Most people feel they never get to the bottom of their dirty washing pile – but imagine working in one of Tayside’s biggest and busiest laundries.
That’s what Jane Livingstone has been doing for the past 24 years in her job at Ninewells Hospital’s laundry department.
Jane, who comes from Menzieshill, says NHS Tayside’s 36-strong laundry team is one of the most important parts of the hospital.
She said: “The van drivers pick up linen from various hospitals within NHS Tayside because it is one central laundry service.
“So we take linen from hospitals and clinics in the likes of Stracathro Hospital, Perth Royal Infirmary and Broxden Dental Hospital, for example, a whole variety of departments.
“We also do all the wards and departments in Ninewells.
“When the linen comes to us, there are two different streams, the white and the red.
“The red stream is for foul linen, so if it has been soiled or is wet in any way it goes through a different process.
“We do 50 kilogram loads and then the clean linen is separated out into bottom sheets, top sheets, pillowcases, pyjamas and thermal spreads.
“Then it is all folded either through a machine or by hand and is handed back out to the hospitals in special bags.
“There are quite a few departments that sometimes get forgotten about.
“Patients see the sheets and don’t always realise we are here washing it all.”
She added: “We are chuffed to work at the laundry because we think we are one of the main departments at NHS Tayside, even if it sometimes doesn’t feel like it.
“There would be a bit of a panic if we didn’t open the laundry one day.
“Some wards hand in linen every day and other clinics are about two or three times a week, but there is always a big stock to hand if something did happen, there would always be linen for patients.”
Jane said it can sometimes be quite a difficult job as it can be physically demanding and repetitive.
She continued: “We have a large turnover of linen.
“It is an ongoing job, as soon as the pile clears another van full of dirty linen comes in.
“It is a physically demanding job too because we need to lift all the linen into cages.
“But the team here is just one big family, we have a good laugh and we all get on well.
“It is a good crowd to work with.”
Jane added she and her colleagues saw an increase in their workload during the coronavirus outbreak.
Throughout the lockdown, the laundry department powered on every day to make sure patients had clean sheets when they were in hospital.
Jane explained: “We have also been doing frontline workers’ scrubs during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we have seen a lot of that coming through to the laundry.
“Infection control for us during the lockdown has not changed because we already have clean and dirty areas due to the nature of our job.
“However, the amount of laundry coming through to us has gone up a wee bit because of all the doctors’ and theatre staff’s scrubs on top of all the sheets.
“Everybody has been really busy here.”