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Thursday, February 16, 2012

Miss Manners’ proper etiquette for filling bottles

How many times over the course of your life have you been asked “May I top up your coffee? Would you like more water? Can I get you another refill of pop?” I bet nine times out of ten you respond “YES PLEASE!” Has it ever occurred to you that by mixing new or fresh with old we could be creating an inferior product?

Take coffee as an example. Restaurants are notorious for providing mugs that are too small. I mean who wants a cup of coffee that is gone in five sips – certainly not I! I’m a StarBucks Venti kinda gal…give me enough to last and I’m happy to drink the bottom quarter cold. But at a restaurant when the waitress asks “can I top your coffee off” I almost always say yes and that simple, seemingly innocent agreement creates an inferior product. I have just knowingly agreed to add hot coffee to my now luke warm cup screwed up the optimal drinking temperature and completely thrown off my cream to coffee ratio!

If we are predisposed to ruin a perfectly good cup of coffee, is it any wonder that housekeeping staff can without thought top off their bottle of disinfectant? Housekeeping staff are trained to be prepared. We instruct them to make sure they have all of the products they are going to need on their carts and as a result many housekeeping staff prefer to see their bottles full and not half empty….so they “top up” their bottles during the day and at the end of each shift. The end result is a bottle that does not have the right concentration of disinfectant because new product has been mixed with old. I’ve affectionately dubbed this efficient group the Top-Off Artists.

A complete training program for housekeeping staff MUST include a discussion as to the proper etiquette for filling disinfectant bottles. It’s not sufficient enough to say “Don’t top up”, we need to arm our staff with the reasons behind why we should NEVER top up. If they understand the consequences of topping up and the potential that they can unknowingly contribute to hospital acquired infections they may think twice before topping up.

Now perhaps I’ll take my own advice and just say NO! the next time I’m asked if I would like my coffee topped up.

Bugging Off!


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