Good hygiene and controlling infections is extremely important in any early years setting or school. There is a focus coming from government at the moment on the risks which could be attached to the spread of Ebola. The government is closely monitoring the spread of the Ebola virus in West Africa, and is taking action at home and abroad. The overall risk of Ebola to the UK remains low but guidelines have now been issued for schools and childcare settings who may be concerned where there are children, students or staff returning from, or visiting, Ebola-affected countries.
Public Health England (PHE), in conjunction with the Department for Education, has produced advice for schools and childcare settings to ensure people are properly informed about the Ebola virus. This can be found here.
Opportunities for children to learn how to keep themselves safe and healthy are vitally important in any early years setting. Learning how to wash your hands effectively or manage a trip to the toilet on your own takes time and lots of practice. It is vital that the routines and organisation of any setting support individual children in achieving these milestones despite the time it may take.
Practitioners in baby and toddler rooms must very aware of the importance of keeping the room clean and tidy and making sure that the toys and resources that the children play with are clean and well looked after. Whilst not being obsessive about this, they should all understand how diseases and infections can be spread so they keep surfaces clean, sterilise bottles and teats and wash their hands before and after feeding a baby and after changing nappies. The nappy changing area should be a bright tidy place with everything stored close at hand and the bins are emptied regularly.
Practitioners should talk about hand washing and demonstrate how to do this properly, giving the children a good role model to follow. Hand washing must become a regular part of the pre-mealtime routine as well as after toileting. Other times when children should wash their hands thoroughly could be after handling pets or after gardening.
For toddlers and older children the children’s toilets should be next to the home base wherever possible. These can be labelled with Mirrored Boy and Girl signs and should be equipped with potties, low level toilets, steps and child height wash basins. Practitioners should oversee visits to the toilet, helping where necessary and supervise hand washing and drying so children quickly come to see this as a part of the ‘toilet routine’. Once children are four or five they should be able to go to the toilet and wash their hands independently, although they may need to be reminded about hygiene.
The toilet area should be kept clean, sweet smelling and tidy. Try positioning a ‘Wash Hands Mirror’ at child height above the wash hand basin as a way of reinforcing the important hand washing message.
Dental hygiene is also important and early years settings and schools play an important role in helping children to understand the importance of personal dental hygiene in keeping their gums and mouths free from infection. Dental Care Resources are widely available from educational suppliers.
Wash Hands Mirror 53360
Boy and Girl Mirror Set 72407
Giant Teeth Demonstration Set 03083
Dental Care Model 03089
Forehead Thermometers 90027