Why Certify-A Matter of Health & Safety

A Matter of Health and Safety-Why Certify

Certification as a Standard for Employment

            Certification is defined as a person competently meeting the criteria (body of knowledge, and/or experience), meet renewal requirements – such as continuing education, work experience, and/or re-testing, in order to remain certified, as set forth by an organization. In this article, “organization” will refer to a type of certification that is profession wide. Certification is a designation used to apply standards, increase the level of competency, protect patients/residents, staff and the public.


            The healthcare field requires that all people that provide direct care to patients and residents must be certified/licensed. Certification and licensing are provided by governing bodies of government and/or professional associations. We usually associate these certifications and/or licenses with doctors, nurses, medical lab technologists, respiralogists, dieticians, etc.


            We usually don’t associate ‘certification’ requirements with leaders directing housekeeping services in the healthcare facilities, and yet these direct services provide the environment in which patients are expected to recuperate in safety, and residents to live comfortably and safely. Some of these services and responsibilities include:


       Directing a multitude of workers in close proximity of patients/residents in health care facilities

       Formatting policies and procedures directing staff in the safe use of chemicals and equipment within a healthcare facility

       Provide services that deliver the cleaning standards required to ensure a clean, safe, and healthful environment

       Formatting policies and procedures, with other healthcare professionals, on working safely in rooms where patients/residents have been isolated because of acquired various infectious such as MRSA, VRE, C. Deficile, tuberculosis, etc.

       Develop fair and equitable workloads through recognized workload measurement systems using health care industry time standards and/or developing time standards for tasks not included or not yet developed in published time standards

       Ensure that staff work in an environment that complies with all human rights, labour, safety, and waste legislation

       Ensure that the workplace practices and policies are in compliance with accreditation standards

       Oversee a department that is responsible with every square meter of a healthcare facility, and more importantly this department must also interact with almost every other department in the facility

       Communication, communication, communication, and more communication


Would you hire anyone to manage or supervise in a housekeeping department without the above skills and knowledge?

How would you be assured that the perspective people, competing for the position of overseeing a housekeeping department, would have the above skills and knowledge?

You could certainly examine their resumes but wouldn’t certification from a recognized body provide some assurances that the individuals have attained some required knowledge and skills to perform as overseers of the housekeeping department?


                        The healthcare field has rapidly changed from single discipline professions being directed by the manger/director to the integration of multiple fields being directed by the `multi-tasked’ manager/director. For example it is not uncommon for the support service departments such as housekeeping, dietary and physical plant to be managed/directed by a person educated and trained in the food service field. It is also not uncommon for these same support service departments to be supervised by people certified in food services or by people certified in housekeeping.


            This raises the question: Should these same managers/directors or supervisors be certified/licensed in all the disciplines that they oversee?


One could argue that those who do not have direct supervision for tasks carried out in the patient/resident areas may not need certification since the corporations rely on the managerial skills of these managers/directors to carry out the mission, purpose and vision of the corporation to service the patients/residents. This can be compared to a plumbing company where the owner may not be licensed plumber but the staff performing the tasks must be licensed plumbers.


In health care facilities we have a multitude of federal and provincial legislations that govern the care and safety of our patients and residents. It is reasonable to require, through federal or provincial legislation, the certification/licensing, of all those directing housekeeping tasks carried out in healthcare facilities.



            Demonstrated successful experience in the health care housekeeping field is often fraught with the pitfall of making and learning from mistakes and implementing remediation upon successive scenarios. Supplementing experience with certification demonstrates a determination to achieve higher levels of competency within your chosen profession. We all want to be recognized for our competency and certainly when trying to establish our credentials for new perspective employers and clients having some type of certification in our chosen field goes a long way towards that endeavour.


            The process of having certifications recognized by employers and clients is not only demonstrated through the successful engagement of people with certifications but also through the promotion of certifications by recognized associations and their members.


Does certification enhance my chances of successful employment?


Certification may enhance your chances of gaining employment but combined with your education and especially a successful work experience record is even more enhancing.


Certification Bodies


            There are three association bodies in Canada and the United States, that offer formal certification in the housekeeping field to their members:


Ontario Health-Care Housekeepers’ Association (OHHA):

-administrates a certification for those in the health care housekeeping field only

-designation – P.H.H. – Professional Healthcare Housekeeper



Association for the Healthcare Environment (AHE):

-administrates a certification for those in the health care housekeeping field only

-designation – CHESP – Certified Healthcare Environmental Services Professional



International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA):

-administrates a certification for those in any housekeeping field

-designation – C.E.H. and R.E.H. – Certified Executive Housekeeper and Registered 

                                                        Executive Housekeeper






What organization should I join and apply for certification?


There are three factors that may determine your decision:


  1. Are you employed or are seeking employment in the health care field, or are you in other

housekeeping fields? Gaining certification in any of the above associations will enhance your resume, and show prospective employers your dedication in furthering your knowledge in the housekeeping field.


  1. All the above organizations require prerequisite qualifications for certification in education and work experience. OHHA also requires completion of its professional development courses. AHE and IEHA also require successful completion of exams.


  1. None of the above organizations have reciprocating certification agreements – that means that certification in one organization does not automatically guarantee certification in another organization. That means you must apply separately to each organization for certification and you must be a member of that organization.


A short note of advice I give to anyone who’ll listen when I speak about certification:


Certification is equal in proficiency to lawyers, doctors, nurses, teachers, etc., being licensed/certified means that the person has met required qualifications. That does not guarantee competency, but does guarantee that the person has had the education and work experience to qualify, and like any other thing in life, you are what you do with what you have set out to accomplish with your head and your heart.



Roger J. Gobbo, PHH, is a Past President of the OHHA, owner RJG Consulting and Management