New handwashing guidance for early years settings

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Guidelines recommend that children in early years settings are taught the importance of handwashing to prevent the spread of infections.


Children at Springfield Bees Pre-School in Chelmsford have been learning how to wash their hands properly

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance recommends that all children from pre-school age and above be taught when and how to wash and dry their hands, for example after going to the toilet, to prevent the spread of infections and reduce the need for antibiotics.

The aim of the recommendations is to help address the growing problem of drug-resistant infections.

The guidance outlines a number of steps early years settings can take, including:

  • displaying information or directing parents and carers to resources about managing the symptoms of infection in children, when to seek medical advice and the appropriate use of antimicrobials;
  • ensuring there are always good standards of food hygiene;
  • providing facilities for thoroughly washing and drying hands for children, staff and visitors. This should include liquid soap and tepid running water, and handrubs when these are not available;
  • ensuring staff talk to children about the importance of thoroughly washing and drying hands.

Case study

Springfield Bees Pre-School in Chelmsford, Essex (pictured)

As part of their health and hygiene topic this term, children at the pre-school, rated good by Ofsted, have been learning how to wash their hands properly.

Manager Carla Deluca said, ‘We have been lucky enough to have some professional parents come in and speak to the children about how good hygiene contributes to being healthy.

‘One of our parents is a St John’s Ambulance trainer. He came in to talk to the children about the importance of handwashing and show them how easily germs can spread. He brought with him a special light box and gel, which if not washed off properly glows under the light.

‘We also have a clinical nurse coming in, another parent, to speak with the children about handwashing, good hygiene practices, immunisation, germs and medicine.’

Ms Deluca said they decided on the topic as running the setting from just one room where children play and eat, hygiene is at the top of their agenda.

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