Nurseries, daycare centres and pre-schools all aim to provide young children with the perfect environment in which they can develop and learn.
The children who attend these facilities are usually more susceptible to infection due to their immature immune systems, their lack of understanding good hygiene practices and their close contact with other children.
Here are five ways you can reduce the chances of infection in your school washroom.
1. Provide appropriate facilities
It is important to make the toilet cubicles or washroom as approachable as possible for the child. In the majority of cases it will be the first interaction the child has had with a communal washroom, which can be a daunting experience. Bright cubicle panels, pictures on the walls and a clean smell all make the experience less frightening for the child.
A lower height or child-sized toilet pan make it easier for them to use the toilet. Toilet paper should be in reach from the pan to avoid the child having to get up. A lower height sink which is in the same room as the toilet is recommended along with taps that can be comfortably operated by the child.
2. Provide liquid soap
A bar of soap can easily become contaminated with bacteria. It is recommended that liquid soap is available from a dispenser placed above the sink. Make sure the liquid soap dispenser can be reached and operated by the children.
Alcohol hand rubs or gels are not cleansing agents and should not replace the need for washing hands with soap.
3. Provide disposable paper towels
Disposable paper towels are considered the only appropriate way for young children to dry their hands. Cloth towels or roller towels can become contaminated through multiple use and spread infection. Hot air hand dryers do not always dry the hands fully and damp hands encourage bacterial growth. The noise from hand dryers can also scare some children of a young age. If hand dryers are installed they must operate at a safe temperature and the child must be supervised by staff when using them.
4. Educate children and parents about the importance of toilet hygiene
If the children understand why they should wash their hands they are more likely to do it properly. Posters in the toilets reminding them to wash their hands and possibly a poster showing them HOW to do it properly will encourage good hygiene. The children's home experiences will vary, so where possible encourage parents and guardians to supervise their child washing their hands and promote good hygiene. When possible, staff should also supervise the child washing their hands to ensure it is done correctly.
5. Have a clear cleaning programme
A written cleaning schedule clearly stating when and how to clean the washroom is important. This is usually done in the form of a chart which is ticked off once each task is completed. Toilet seats, flush handles, taps and toilet bowls should be cleaned properly everyday or sooner if visibly contaminated.