“Little Timmy threw up in Mrs. Jones’ classroom! Can someone send the custodian?” Before I started at Wood Wyant I had absolutely no idea what a school janitor did. Obviously, I figured it was more than just cleaning up after all the little Timmy’s out there, but I never realized just how demanding their job was. Even though I had worked in a high school for six years, I had never really taken much notice of the custodians’ daily tasks.
When I was a teenager, my mother worked as a duty cleaner in a senior’s home. This was long before Quebec had its subsidized CHSLD nursing homes, and what I knew about the job was limited to what my mother told me over dinner. Naturally, being a teenager and all, I didn’t pay much attention. For me, the duty cleaner’s job was to basically clean toilets all day. And, according to my mom, she was cleaning much too fast for her co-worker’s liking.
For the last two years I’ve been a Professional Development Trainer for Wood Wyant, travelling across Quebec. During this time, I have come to not only better understand what a school janitor or a nursing home duty cleaner does, but I’ve also met lots of wonderful and passionate professionals who are eager to share their knowledge. And these people are true professionals. I get to meet these people every day, and I can see just how proud they are of their contributions to the small community that lives in (or runs around) the building they carefully maintain with the utmost professionalism.
And let me be the first to say that janitors are veritable experts in floor care. If you ever want to learn more about caring for floors, just talk to a janitor. They are goldmines of advice. They’re always looking and willing to try new products. That said, convincing them to give up their trusted mop is no easy task. Workers with this level of expertise are worth their weight in gold; look no further than the condition of the floors in school corridors for proof.
Duty cleaners in healthcare facilities are just as proud of their work. They understand the risks involved and constantly seek out best practices to protect themselves from possible contamination. They are professionals who know the products they are using, and how these products protect the facility’s residents or patients. They have a clear understanding of their role in the chain of infection, and they want to improve the quality of life for everyone in their facility.
School janitors and duty cleaners know their products inside-out and can compare them to others in terms of efficacy. They also know what problems they might encounter in using them. More importantly, they know exactly what results they’re looking for and insist on achieving them. These demands are a constant challenge for all chemical products suppliers.
It’s a shame that the work of “cleaning people,” as they are sometimes referred to, is so often denigrated, because these professionals play an essential role in infection control in schools and healthcare facilities. We can see the quality of their work every time we enter a building or use the bathroom. After all these years, I finally realize just how fascinating my Mom’s job actually was.