July 2020 Cover Story: Beyond “Business As Usual”
Greg Ward, Managing Director at Transguard Group on how the organisation’s comprehensive response to COVID-19 is helping to build the future of FM in the health care sector. (Read the full July magazine right here: https://bit.ly/3gAiO4K)
What did you take for granted prior to COVID-19? The ability to easily socialize with friends and family quickly tops the list for most of us, but what about access to worry-free medical attention that doesn’t come with the twin concern of potentially and inadvertently falling victim to a global pandemic? Over the last few months, hospitals and clinics have been ground zero for any number of stories, with cleanliness and disinfection playing a major role in each of these narratives.
As the largest facilities management provider in the UAE, Transguard was and continues to be at the frontlines of this conversation. In fact, more than 500 Transguard staff have been supporting the country’s field hospitals since April, with specialists in a number of sectors, including security guards, systems integration technicians, nursing assistants, a lab assistant, cleaners, waste management specialists, laundry stewards, F&B staff, loaders and more, each of whom was carefully integrated into the respective patient care teams to ensure delivery of the right facilities services.
With industry expertise and an intrinsic knowledge of the healthcare industry, here are a few of the ways Transguard has risen above and beyond “business as usual” during this decidedly unusual time in history.
Supporting patient well-being with well-trained staff
Every day, Transguard’s healthcare-focused teams support clinicians across the UAE to deliver excellent healthcare to patients, with each element of our support designed to continue to facilitate patient well-being and recovery. Cleaning and maintenance play significant roles in this ethos, and every element of our workflow is planned and delivered with a strong understanding of hygiene, safety, patient care and clinical standards. The result of rigorous training in our Centre of Excellence, our FM teams, as well as others working in the healthcare sector, undergo specific coursework on proper hygiene standards and controls, all focused on ensuring that our cleaning methods reliably deliver the specialized hygiene levels required for each area of a healthcare facility. This emphasis on education supercharges Transguard’s dedicated, stable teams of highly trained staff with the ability to not only self-deliver all required services, but also to retain and rely upon detailed knowledge of the users, patients, visitors, healthcare functions and other teams, the buildings and assets. With training based on and infused with adherence to UAE and international standards, our centralized FM offering features a robust assurance regime for compliance to specified standards for hygiene, cleaning, health and safety, quality and environmental management.
Measuring Performance, Controlling Costs
Transguard is results-oriented, and we believe that customers want to see measurable performance in terms of quality improvement, compliance, cost reduction, high user satisfaction and maximum value. With COVID-19 essentially throwing every standard expectation out the window, our strict attention to detail through targets, data and KPIs (which are aligned with customer standards and objectives) has enabled us to achieve results with a demonstratively positive impact on service routines.
This also gives us the opportunity to support our customers’ efficiency goals by delivering optimum value in facilities services; what’s more, we self-monitor our delivery quality and account development initiatives with documented and audited compliance with regulatory hygiene standards; QHSE teams to drive performance levels in quality, health, safety and environmental standards; continuing certification in accreditation standards (including ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001, ISO 14001, BICSc); and high service user satisfaction levels.
Further bolstering this approach is our self-delivery model, and the fact that we do not subcontract core FM services. This gives us full control over facilities delivery and standards and ensures that our model is scalable, allowing adjustments to service levels and costs in line with changing priorities and needs.
Integrating for Success
While we train our teams to liaise with hospital managers to co-ordinate our support services within the wider functions of the hospital, we also make provision for a single point of contact to be on-site for all facilities services, a benefit that our healthcare colleagues have found to be exceptionally responsive and easy to access. Integration and streamlining are used to remove demarcation among facilities services teams, with a particular focus on flexibility, speed, quality, cost savings and the needs of people (healthcare staff, visitors and patients alike). What’s more, our skill base, knowledge and seamless integration with top management and clinical priorities provide us with an unparalleled flexibility to adapt to truly any circumstances.
This ability to integrate also takes shape in our ability to bundle services from across Transguard; this provides economies of scale that give our clients even greater flexibility and access to Transguard’s full portfolio of services, which includes (but isn’t limited to) reception, maintenance, security, waste management, hospitality and more.
Response, not reaction
As the saying goes, “failure to plan is planning to fail,” and particularly against the backdrop of COVID-19 we have found that our robust infrastructure (built on Lean Six Sigma principles) has allowed us to approach this year’s unprecedented challenges with swift, considered responses that take into consideration long-term effects as well as short-term results. This ability is built from the ground up, with Transguard’s emphasis on education providing the cornerstone of this ability: Our best-in-class training equips our teams with the ability to provide the highest standards in cleaning as well as the ability to offer assistance when required, such as the confidence and ability to provide directions to visitors. Of course, responsiveness – especially in an emergency situation – could be a matter of life and death, and because each member of our team is thoroughly trained in their roles and ready to act, our employees have proven to be capable, reliable assets in any hospital environment, which grants us a leading role in operational continuity that is critical.
While we are far from considering COVID-19 an inconvenient footnote in the history books of the future, Transguard’s facilities management narrative, particularly in terms of health care, continues to set local and global standards that will endure long after the pandemic is over.
Sidebar: COVID-19 readiness
Our high standards for cleanliness continue to meet and exceed the requirements of hospitals and clinics, but in response to the pandemic we made masks and gloves a constant expectation and stepped up the frequency of our “tool box talks” and added additional content on COVID-19 prevention measures, social distancing, best practices for staff rotation and the proper disposal of gloves.