Issue 136 January 2017
Care and control
Vernacare is a leading UK-based infection control business, whose innovative single-use system and award-winning products have made it a global leader in human waste management across the healthcare sector
Vernacare offers hygienic patient toileting and washing solutions through its range of innovative products that have revolutionised an area of healthcare that had not changed in many years. In 2015, the company produced around 160 million disposable products, all of which were made in accordance with tight Quality Assurance systems, confirming how reliable and robust its products are. The company works to the highest national and international standards possible, everything it makes being BSI Kitemarked. Vernacare’s products offer customers and patients an effective solution that is cost effective, environmentally friendly and designed to prevent infection. This is why the Vernacare system is overwhelmingly used in healthcare across the UK, while also widely used worldwide.
From its inception over 50 years ago to the present day, the business has held a belief in innovation, which it supports with an extensive in-house research and development team and large-scale investments in the company’s capabilities. There are a number of improvements that the business has made to its facilities in recent years. One example of this is a multi-million pound investment in automated packing and inspection processes, another is its automated data collection and process monitoring using smart sensors, and there are many more.
The innovation and facilities enable Vernacare to provide products that offer minimal environmental impact, enhanced care facility productivity, gold standard infection prevention as well as maximum patient and carer dignity, all at a reduced cost.
The Vernacare System has disrupted the traditional method of re-using bedpans, urinals and wash bowls. Vernacare produces singleuse containers made from renewable natural fibres, which are then disposed of in its Vortex machines which break down the used containers and contents into miniscule particles using a fast and energy efficient cold water process. The resulting fine slurry flows freely through the drains. Over the years Vernacare’s offer has evolved and diversified into a range of products based upon the same hygienic, cost effective and environmentally friendly solution.
Chief Executive Matthew Miller discussed the environmental benefits Vernacare offers: “We are an eco-friendly ISO 14001 accredited business, which has invested in a range of environmental management improvements to our manufacturing process, such as energy reduction and water recycling.” Matthew continued: “For our customers the Vernacare system uses 60 per cent less water than some alternative systems and less energy because our Vortex disposal machines use a cold water process and operate a fast, energy efficient cycle.” He added: “In recent years, Vernacare’s products have also won many plaudits as they avoid the environmental cost of chemically and thermally disinfecting plastic or metal containers and their ultimate disposal.”
In addition to these benefits, Vernacare’s disposable products assist nurses in making bestuse of their time and abilities, which can be better applied in other aspects of patient care. On this Matthew explained: “The Vernacare single-use system saves nurses more than 27hours per year – compared to alternative reusable systems. It also improves working conditions by eliminating the time spent washing plastic products.”
The Vernacare system offers great value, as Matthew confirmed: “When all costs are considered our system is 39 per cent cheaper to maintain than alternative systems of human waste management. Our single-use process utilises significantly less energy and water than alternative re-usable methods. Further financial benefits are provided through the savings in nursing time, the cost of treating Healthcare Acquired Infections (HCAIs) and reduced maintenance costs. Also, the Vortex disposal unit can often be significantly less costly to purchase than many washer disinfectors.”
The Vernacare single-use system is a valuable tool in combating some of the most infectious and pervasive illnesses, that if allowed can rapidly spread throughout a hospital. Matthew commented: “By providing patients with a new disposable product every time, the Vernacare system helps to reduce infection risk from Clostridium difficile (C.diff), MRSA, E. Coli and Norovirus, and other highly infectious diseases, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).”
Vernacare offers these benefits across a large range of products, which includes the world’s first detergent-proof disposable washbowl, for which it won the prestigious Queen’s Award for Innovation, once again displaying its originality and expertise. These talents were also important in creating its Vortex+ model, launched in 2015, a waste disposal unit that does not require any operator hand contact, thus helping to reduce cross-infection. Also, it has recently developed a new model of its successful VernaChair commode, which combats infection through an easy-clean design. In addition, Vernacare has once again displayed its leadership within the industry with the introduction of a single-use female urinal, the VernaFem, an award winning innovation. Through all of these new groundbreaking developments, Vernacare focuses on developing cost effective products that place patient safety, comfort and dignity, as well as the environment, at the heart of all it does.
Due to the important ways Vernacare benefits customers and patients, it is no wonder that it has revolutionised the healthcare sector, and is used by 96 per cent of NHS Trusts and healthcare facilities in 48 countries. The business also looks for growth in international markets and has been successful in identifying customers and markets around the world that have a demand for its human waste management and infection control products.
The company has taken a fresh approach to how it targets international markets and as of 2013 it has now put in place a more targeted policy that aims to achieve high levels of growth. One recent example of this is a new-five year deal which will see Vernacare supply Manipal – one of Asia’s largest healthcare management groups. The company expects to see over ten million pounds worth of sales to India over the next three years as a result, and with more interested parties in the region, the future for Vernacare in India looks very positive. In addition to this, the business will also seek to develop its well-established market positions in all corners of the globe.
The worldwide popularity of its products demonstrates how effective Vernacare has been in addressing old issues within healthcare with new ideas. It has underpinned all of this with a commitment to quality, to minimising its impact on the environment, whilst also improving the experience and cost for healthcare providers. Due to these factors the Vernacare System is considered to be the gold standard globally, and this reputation only looks set to grow as more customers worldwide convert to Vernacare’s products and experience their benefits.
The almost complete conversion of the UK to the single-use system, based on quality, cost effectiveness and the overall benefit to customers and patients has been a solid platform from which Vernacare has taken its innovative product range to many countries around the world and why it now looks set to increase its global share of the international healthcare market. Indeed, as prevention becomes increasingly important to health management, importance of cost benefits increase, and concerns for environmental issues grow Vernacare will no doubt enjoy even greater success.
Products: Hygienic patient toileting and washing and infection control