What are housekeeper duties in a hospital? (Plus jobs)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 22 November 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Hospital housekeepers provide non-medical services on hospital wards, such as cleaning, serving or clearing away meals, arranging patient transport and ordering non-medical supplies. Depending on their training and a hospital's requirements, they can work in a range of departments, such as paediatric, maternity or accident and emergency wards. To achieve career development in hospital housekeeping, you might also specialise in specific tasks or managing a large team. In this article, we provide an in-depth guide to housekeeper duties in a hospital, include a step-by-step guide on how to become a hospital housekeeper and list four job options.

What are housekeeper duties in a hospital?

The section below lists five examples of housekeeper duties in a hospital:

Speaking with patients and families

Hospital housekeepers speak with patients to make their hospital stays as comfortable as possible. They may reassure patients before operations and during convalescence. They may also communicate patients' dinner orders to kitchen colleagues. Hospital housekeepers might communicate with patients' families during visits, explaining their relative's current health and exchanging contact information.

Related: A guide to communication in health and social care

Cleaning and laundry

Hospital housekeepers use cleaning chemicals to disinfect hospital floors and walls, preventing the spread of viruses between patients. They may also remove bodily fluid spillages using paper towels or mops, disposing of them in clinical waste bags to avoid cross-contamination. Besides cleaning wards, these professionals can also complete laundry tasks, such as washing patients' bed sheets or clothes.

Related: Cleaner skills: definitions and examples

Serving meals

Hospital housekeepers can deliver meals to patients at breakfast, lunch or dinner times, collecting their trays once the patient finishes eating. If patients cannot leave their beds, hospital housekeepers may also prepare snacks or hot drinks between meals or purchase items from vending machines. They might also take care to make sure that meals account for patients' allergies or dietary requirements, preventing cross-contamination during service.

Managing transport

Hospital housekeepers might arrange non-emergency transport to help recently discharged patients to travel home without experiencing discomfort. If patients' families or friends can't easily visit them in the hospital due to disability or lack of public transport, these professionals could organise private transport for them. If patients fund their own transport, hospital housekeepers may instead help them to reclaim transport costs from their care provider or insurer.

Ordering non-medical supplies

If they lead a large housekeeping team, these professionals can also oversee inventory management for their ward or hospital. They might conduct scheduled stock counts, identifying cleaning equipment or chemicals in short supply before issuing repeat orders to contractors. During deliveries, hospital housekeepers may check received items to ensure that they function as expected.

How to become a hospital housekeeper

The section below provides a step-by-step guide explaining how to become a hospital housekeeper:

1. Earn relevant GCSEs

The first step that you may take to become a hospital housekeeper is to secure several GCSE qualifications in relevant subjects, such as hospitality or mathematics. During your studies, you can build up several useful key skills relevant to this career path, such as controlling budgets or organising meals. Depending on your career ambitions, the number of GCSEs you could wish to earn may vary. If you secure at least two GCSEs at grades A*-D, you might qualify for a Level 2 college hospitality course.

Contrastingly, if you earn four or five GCSEs at grades A*-D, you might qualify for a Level 3 college hospitality course. By securing a place on a Level 3 course, you can develop the leadership and hospitality management skills required to lead a hospital housekeeping team. You may then boost your career trajectory by accessing higher-paid housekeeping roles more quickly.

Related: How to become a housekeeper in 5 steps (plus definition)

2. Complete further study

After studying for GCSEs at school or a local college, you could secure one or several vocational qualifications in hospitality. Though some organisations might recruit hospital housekeepers who lack past experience, you can more easily compete against rival applicants by completing some additional study. For example, you may earn the Level 2 Certificate in Hospitality and Catering Principles. This course contains units covering diverse housekeeping topics, such as meal service and the safe use of cleaning tools. Conversely, you may earn the Level 3 Diploma in Housekeeping Management to study staff management, inventory control and budgeting.

If you aim to blend work and education, you might instead earn qualifications via a Hospitality Team Member Intermediate Apprenticeship in Housekeeping. During this scheme, you usually complete at least 16 hours of hospital housekeeping work per week, with the remaining hours devoted to studying for Level 1 qualifications in English and Mathematics. At the end of the apprenticeship, you may complete a timed assessment under the observation of a moderator, who judges your progress and determines your final grade.

Related: What are Level 3 apprenticeships? (With benefits and FAQs)

3. Volunteer in the care sector

After finishing your studies, you can benefit from volunteering in the health and social care sector for a short period of time. Voluntary care roles provide opportunities to gain experience performing housekeeping tasks and develop important soft skills, such as empathy and communication. For example, you could volunteer as a care home housekeeper, helping full-time colleagues to wash residents' bed linen or serve meals. Conversely, you may become a community companion volunteer, spending time in vulnerable people's homes to combat loneliness.

The list below outlines the steps that you can take to begin volunteering in the care sector:

  1. Visit the website of a major non-profit organisation, such as Age UK or the Royal Voluntary Service

  2. Enter your address or current location to discover local voluntary opportunities

  3. Analyse the available opportunities and consider their relevance to hospital housekeeping careers

  4. Submit your application

  5. Apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service check if requested by your chosen charity

Related: How to volunteer in your community (plus benefits)

4. Apply for housekeeping roles

The last step that you can take on this career path is to apply for hospital housekeeping jobs. Before applying for jobs, you may adapt your CV to reflect the initial job listing's specifications. Competitive housekeeping CVs also highlight key skills relevant to the job, such as organisation or active listening. You can include examples to outline how to use such skills to complete routine tasks. For example, if you're discussing active listening, you may explain how this skill could help you to recognise patient distress or take accurate dinner orders.

Related: How to write a housekeeping CV (with template and example)

Hospital housekeeping careers

Four hospital housekeeping careers include:

1. Laundry attendant

National average salary: £18,007 per year

Primary duties: Laundry attendants wash, clean and dry hospital patients' clothes and bed sheets to ensure that they're suitable for future use. As patient laundry may contain blood or bodily fluids, these professionals may disinfect and starch clothing to remove tough stains and prevent weathering caused by repeat use. They can also separate different patients' laundry before or after washes to prevent cross-contamination. Laundry attendants can track washing equipment's performance, informing maintenance colleagues if any machinery or components require repairs. They might also clean equipment following washes to avoid damaging future patients' laundry.

Related: What is support work? Types, environment, duties and salary

2. Hospital cleaner

National average salary: £18,679 per year

Primary duties: Hospital cleaners inspect and sanitise hospital equipment, wards and bathrooms to protect vulnerable patients against infection by viruses or bacteria. They understand how to safely handle and apply cleaning chemicals to protect both themselves, patients or visitors against skin irritation problems. They may also identify proactively patients safety risks, such as damaged guardrails or liquid spillages. They might then either fix the problem themselves or contact on-site experts.

Related: How To Write a Housekeeper Cover Letter With No Experience

3. Head housekeeper

National average salary: £24,837 per year

Primary duties: In hospitals, head housekeepers lead a team of junior housekeepers working within a single department, such as the maternity or cardiology ward. They could organise daily shift routines, giving priority to urgent or essential tasks when delegating responsibilities. They might also perform safety audits to ensure that colleagues comply with government guidelines and patient safeguarding strategies. Head housekeepers may oversee deliveries in person, counting and checking each item to ensure that they function as expected. As inventory stockpiles diminish, they may place repeat orders to prevent equipment shortages.

Related: Team manager vs direct manager: differences and FAQs

4. Executive housekeeper

National average salary: £27,297 per year

Primary duties: Executive housekeepers can oversee several housekeeping teams operating within different sections of a hospital. They might create training schemes to ensure that junior hospital housekeepers safely use cleaning equipment or anti-bacterial chemicals. They're also responsible for monitoring colleagues' work to ensure that they abide by legal regulations regarding the safe use of chemicals and patient care. Executive housekeepers can perform important administrative tasks, such as managing payroll, creating shift rotas and setting monthly budgets. Given their leadership role, these professionals can provide a nodal point for cross-team communication.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed. Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.

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