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From Hotels to Healthcare: Roma’s Story

From Hotels to Healthcare: Roma's Story as Head of Housekeeping

After starting her housekeeping career in hotels Roma eventually found her passion in healthcare. Now Head of Housekeeping at HCA UK she tells us more about her journey, why she swapped hotels for hospitals, and gives us an insight into the key role our housekeeping teams play in delivering an exceptional patient experience.

How long have you been at HCA UK?

I’ve worked in healthcare for 24 years, joining HCA UK as a contractor in 2018 before becoming a HCA UK colleague in 2023.

Can you tell us a bit about your career history?

I started my working life in hotels but was offered the opportunity to work in healthcare as part of a graduate programme. It was so different from hotels, I thought hotels would be glamourous to work in but that wasn’t the case. Working in hotels meant unsociable hours, long shifts and working late nights and weekends with very little time outside of work.

Moving into healthcare was so different. It was really interesting, a better work life balance and more importantly, we are helping people to get better, which made the role really fulfilling. It is rewarding to be part of one of the many teams that ensures the smooth running of a hospital and a first-class patient experience.

Can you tell us about your role and what it involves?

I’m currently Head of Housekeeping, working across all the sites. Each hospital has a housekeeping manager but prior to my role, there was no standardised guidelines, policies or set methods in place. My role was to introduce a standardised approach to delivering the housekeeping services across our hospitals, even down to things like the toiletries, which are now the same across all our facilities.

Our people are one of our biggest assets! We have a lot of people who take so much pride in their work and go above and beyond.

What makes us stand out from our competitors?

The housekeeping team consists of approximately 400 employees, and I meet monthly with all the site-based Housekeeping Managers. We’re continuously looking at how we can improve and sometimes challenge why we do things. This is a real strength in our group and I strongly believe it gives us that competitive edge as we strive to do better every day. We also have the ability to share resources, for example at Christmas, some of our facilities may close or operate at reduced capacity and we can re-allocate shifts to our busier sites and for those wanting to work at other hospitals.

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It is never monotonous, I love the mystery of what my next challenge will be! Sometimes I arrive on site and it’s all hands-on deck to sort something out and other times, it can be calm.  I love the variety in my role and getting to work with different people. My role is also very much about troubleshooting and implementing change. So we all share our knowledge and experiences and learn from one another.

How do you train your team?

I’m very passionate about developing our people to help get them to where they want to be. This could be helping them succeed in their current role, or helping them grow and develop further.  I’ve also been in the process of setting up a model room as training centre as there’s so much more to learn than just cleaning a room. It’s also about the methodology used, sequence of tasks, type of mops etc. We also provide different services, such as a standard discharge, cleaning around a very ill patient to cleaning our theatres. Every job has very different requirements and so our teams are learning every day.

We’ve had a lot of housekeeping assistants who are now in supervisory or management roles.

What do you see as the challenges in housekeeping?

Sometimes it’s difficult balancing the workload. We need time to clean the rooms to a high standard to ensure the safety of our patients, but sometimes a room or theatre is needed quickly so it is about managing expectations and working together.

When we clean the theatres, we are just not cleaning one room. We clean multiple rooms including the prep room, anaesthetic room, scrubbing area, changing rooms, corridors, storerooms. It is a massive undertaking and sometimes a complex or emergency surgery may run late into the night, which is when we usually have access to clean. Our teams have to be flexible and reactive.

We also undertake a lot more than cleaning alone, which some people don’t realise. We also manage washroom services, floor mats, sanitary care, linen, laundry, window cleaning and pest control. Some of our work is periodic while other tasks are regular routine work.

How does sustainability fit in with housekeeping?

We’re always looking at ways that we can reduce our impact on the planet.  We recently implemented a disposable curtain campaign as we were changing ours more than required by the National Guidelines that we follow in healthcare. This led to increased waste which ultimately impacts on our planet. By changing how we work, we can save over 2,000 curtains a year without compromising on patient safety or cleanliness.

What impact does your team have on patients?

We’re helping our patients get better, ensuring their environment is kept clean and safe for their treatment and recovery. I always say to my team that they are very important; and to remember the clinical teams cannot do their job without us. It is like a car, without the wheels it cannot move no matter how well built or powerful the engine may be. We are the wheels that keep the car moving!

Housekeeping Careers

At HCA UK we’re incredibly proud of the vital role our Housekeeping teams play in delivering an exceptional patient experience.  If you’re looking for a new role where the work you can do really makes a difference to the lives of others then we’d love to hear from you!

Take a look at our current opportunities below.

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