On Friday 5th May the BBVA Innovation Centre hosted an event to launch a useful innovation in the field of technology. This is “Laundry ID”, a system to avoid losses of linen in institutional services due to mistakes in sorting and delivering clean linen where residents' dirty linen is mixed together to be washed. Laundry ID simplifies the work and guides the operator in their task of sorting and delivering clean linen. This process makes it easier to employ people with disabilities.
The project is the result of close cooperation between Girbau, the Instituto de Robótica para la Dependencia, the technology firm Extra Software and the Rovira i Virgili University and was supported by a subsidy from the Spanish health ministry, part of the 0.07% quota of income tax, and by the BBVA.
Laundry ID is a system for institutional laundries to aid access to employment thanks to special software to enable people with intellectual disability or mental illness to sort the linen without making mistakes. A system of guidance using chips lights up a cordless LED while folding the linen, indicating which basket each item for each resident is to be placed in.
The employee is guided through every step, making the whole process suitable for people with disabilities and creating new jobs for this group, who have difficulty finding access to employment. The quality of service to users and families is improved by stopping residents' linen from getting lost. It also cuts the laundry's operating costs, making it eligible for public incentives to hire people with disabilities and employment trainers.
The occasion was attended by the Secretary of State for Equality and Social Services, Mario Garcés, and the Director General for Policies to Support Disability, Borja Fanjul, who wished to support this inclusive initiative, which was made possible thanks to funds from the x for social projects option in the income tax declaration.
Mercè Girbau, CEO of Girbau, revealed the firm's strong involvement in the project because of its enormous potential for inclusiveness at work.
In Spain in 2015 there were 1,774,800 people of working age with officially recognised disabilities (source: Odismet, the observatory for disability and the labour market in Spain). 31% of the working population with disabilities were currently unemployed. The gap between them and the population without disabilities was over 9%. The unemployment rate was higher among women than men (31.1 versus 30.9), despite their lower rate of involvement in the labour market. The rate of employment of people with disabilities in Spain is 23.4%, almost three times lower than that for people without disabilities, which reached 60.9% in the same year.
On the other hand, in Spain in 2015 there were 5,340 care homes and about 570 residential institutions for people with intellectual disability, and they need to cut costs and improve services for their users. Laundry ID creates inclusive jobs in ordinary settings and therefore meets a very important social need in Spain, that of access to employment in unprotected environments, to achieve full inclusion. Each laundry generates between 3 and 4 jobs, quality contracts for people with intellectual disability or mental or physical illness.
As social organisations, residential institutions increase their social impact through the inclusion at work of people with disabilities in their immediate setting. This also improves the quality of the service provided for their residents, as well as efficiency, by reducing the time spent on dealing with incidents of lost linen. As people with disabilities are employed, there is an economic benefit resulting from grants and subsidies.