06 May Good Hygiene Practice in the nursery environment
Good practice starts with good facilities, especially in the washroom areas, both staff and children’s. It is important that everyone who enters the nursery understands their responsibilities and that starts with proper hand washing. There are four simple rules to ensure that the biggest risk, infection through contact, is minimised.
1. Educate the children. Regularly build in hygiene awareness, by discussing germs, how they spread, getting children to draw what they think germs look like under a microscope or for the more adventurous or science minded, grow a colony in a petri dish from a swab from a child’s hand. You can also download bathroom hygiene and hand washing charts to colour in and display in the washroom areas (laminated if possible).
2. Educate the staff. All staff that have completed food safety level one will have touched on hand and personal hygiene. Reinforce personal hygiene training with refresher sessions that can be tied in with other training i.e. infection control.
3. Back to basics – Soap and warm water. Remove all antibac soap (see insert) within the nursery environment. If you have your soap supplied by a local, reputable washroom services company then ask for a foaming or spray soap dispenser – kids love foam and it uses 10 to 20 times less soap per dose than liquid soap, it is easier to see and spread over the hands and has a much cheaper in use cost (per dose).
4. Ensure hands are dried by paper towels or a child friendly (fast and with low noise) hand dryer.
The anti anti-bacterial soap argument
Why do TV ads advertise antibac this and antibac that? Easy, it means they can charge you more. The reality is that antibac – especially where hand soap is concerned – is not a great asset. People are generally poor at washing their hands. Where antibac soap is not rinsed off properly the bacteria are left coexisting with weak variants of the active ingredient that kills the bacteria. This weakened version works a bit like homeopathic remedies and helps the germs to build up a resistance to the active ingredient. This has been highlighted as a major contributor in the increase in antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria.
Washroom and baby changing facilities
These areas should be checked regularly as per the nursery guidelines. Simple things to check are:
1. Hand soap is available for staff and children
2. Toilet paper is in every cubicle
3. There are no slip hazards from excess water on the floor
4. All light bulbs are working correctly
5. No other hazard or risk
Staff should deal with any shortfalls or potential hazards immediately.
Cleaning schedules should be in place where they can be easily checked and it is good practise to have a wallchart showing which chemicals are used where so that if a member of staff has to clean up a ‘spillage’ they know what to use and where. All staff should be COSHH trained and your chemical supplier will be happy to help you with this either by carrying out the training onsite or supplying an electronic version (some suppliers can even supply this multilingual).
Antiseptic – An agent used in or on the body to prevent infection. Disinfection – An agent or process which destroys microorganisms, but not usually bacterial spores: It does not necessarily kill all microorganisms, but reduces them to a level which is not harmful to health nor to the quality of perishable goods.
Sterilisation – An agent or process that destroys or removes 100% of all micro organisms.