Coughs and sneezes spread diseases – are you keeping the bugs at bay in your early years setting?

    Published: 11 January 2018

    Childcare providers have a moral and legal duty to safeguard children from infections and illnesses. In England, hygiene is covered under Section 3: The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory framework, updated in March 2017.

    Section 3.54 requires providers to ensure that their premises are “fit for purpose” and comply with the requirements of relevant health and safety legislation. The framework specifies compliance with hygiene requirements.

    So it goes without saying that correct and proper hygiene practises are very important when running a Nursery or pre-school. Unlike at home, a nursery or pre-school can be very susceptible to infections or illnesses. Proper hygiene control affects everyone at a nursery, Parents, Staff and the Children.

    Promoting good hygiene also helps to educate children on hygiene practises.

    Below are 5 simple ways to help stop the spread of infection in your reception class, nursery or pre-school.

    1. Hand Washing

    It is vital to teach and consistently promote proper hand washing in your nursery or pre-school. It is important for both for staff and children alike. There should be enough suitable facilities to allow for thorough hand washing. This includes: a suitable wash basin with hot and cold taps, soap (not bars of soap), disposable hand towels and/or a hand dryer.

    2. Identify germ-harbouring "hot spots," and clean them every day

    Around 80% of all transferable diseases spread by touching. Frequently touched surfaces, like door handles, flushes on toilets, and cot rails provide an excellent breeding ground for germs and bacteria increasing the risk of infection spreading.

    A wipe-down with a disinfectant cloth can help to eliminate germs before they have a chance to spread around your setting. This is important in high use areas or with places that are shared by many children.

    3. Cleaning

    Your nursery should have a cleaning schedule, which points out what should be clean, and how often as well as who is responsible for undertaking this duty. Certain areas will need more frequent cleaning than others. Proper detergent and disinfectant must be available, but caution should apply if children will be using items very shortly after being cleaning with chemicals. Carpets and rugs need to be included in your cleaning schedule. Don’t forget a process for sterilising toys that babies put into their mouth, these should be monitored closely and cleaned promptly before they are inadvertently shared!

    4. Responding to infection outbreaks

    Parents should be made aware that children who are unwell should be kept at home; this should be noted in induction materials and cited in relevant policies. Refer to guidance from Public Health, England and guidance from the DfE, when developing your policies and procedures.

    Those with a temperature and other specific signs and symptoms should be excluded until they are better (48 hours from the last episode in the case of diarrhoea or vomiting). Please refer to the exclusion guidance provided from Public Health

    There is also a useful action checklist to support hygiene practice around managing an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting outbreak. Link to

    During any infection outbreak, increase environmental cleaning (especially toilets and door/flush handles) Reinforce good hand hygiene with children, especially after going to the toilet and before eating and drinking. Ensure toys are cleaned and dried after use. Exclude children with symptoms and advise staff members with symptoms to refrain from work until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours. Sand/Water and or play dough may have to be replaced as necessary.

    5. Changing Children’s Bedding

    If children are sleeping at your setting everyone should have their own set of bedding that should be laundered at least once a week. The frequency of washing should be increased if there has been an outbreak of an infectious illness or the child has been poorly bedding should be washed at a temperature of 60 degrees to ensure all bacteria is killed during the cleaning process.

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