Did you know that one million bacteria can be created by one child in a school day? It is hands which are the primary vehicle for transmitting germs, and so if pupils are failing to effectively wash their hands, it is easy to understand how germs and bacteria can quickly spread.
Currently, 60% of all absences across schools in England are due to illness. Having higher school attendance rates is likely to positively impact educational performance and the school environment as a whole. The issue of poor hand hygiene compliance is something which must be addressed.
The National Institute of Care and Excellence (NICE) has also acknowledged that hand hygiene in schools is of particular concern and has suggested several mechanisms to improve infection prevention knowledge and behaviour in schools with regard to hand washing. In the review, it suggests that schools must provide adequate facilities for washing and drying hands, which should include liquid soap and tepid running water.
Unfortunately not all children wash their hands effectively. A survey by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine unearthed that only 63.8% of primary school pupils regularly washed their hands with soap at school, a figure which dropped to 39% for secondary school pupils. However, if schools are to encourage children and staff alike to wash their hands effectively, the resources need to be accessible and in abundance. It is advisable that primary schools invest in sealed cartridge soap dispensers, a far more hygienic, economical and environmentally-friendly option than bar soap or bulk fill systems. These dispensing systems are easy to operate for children, and maintenance costs are minimal for schools.
It is not only crucial for pupils to have the solutions in place to wash their hands effectively, but they must also be aware of the correct technique. It is advisable that pupils wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. Hand washing correctly, using soap, water and the above technique could protect around one in three young children who become sick with diarrhoea and almost one in five young children with respiratory infections such as pneumonia. This further emphasises the impact that effective hand hygiene solutions at school can have.
Education is key
However, having the correct products and solutions in place is just one part of the puzzle. The National Institute of Care and Excellence has also suggested that all children should be taught, in an appropriate way for their age and ability, about the importance of washing and drying hands to prevent infections and stop them from spreading. This is a sentiment which has been echoed in the current National Curriculum for primary school pupils.
Teachers and parents mustn’t fall short when it comes to promoting hand hygiene awareness and compliance to school children either. Both should be leading by example and be seen to wash their own hands frequently throughout the day, using the proper techniques.
‘Soaperheroes’ to the rescue
To further encourage hand hygiene compliance and reduce the transfer of bacteria, schools must also understand the value of investing in brightly coloured and attractive dispensers to help engage children in the hand washing process. Deb Group, a global skin care solutions specialist, is launching a ‘Soaperhero’ hand washing campaign for schools in the United Kingdom. Its goal – to fight the spread of germs and infections in schools by actively encouraging hand hygiene compliance from a young age in a fun and engaging way.
Deb is working to improve behaviour in schools with two newly designed superhero themed dispensers available in the UK. ‘Soaperman’ and ‘Soapergirl’ – dispensers which have been created to encourage children to wash their hands regularly and effectively.
Deb will also be running a national competition titled SOPERHEROES VS GERMS, which will be open to entries from the 1st February until 30th April 2017, where school children will have the opportunity to design a dispenser. The winning design from each of the eleven regions in the UK and Ireland will be emblazoned on every dispenser in the chosen school. The winning pupil from each region will also receive a £50 book voucher.
In addition to the range of ‘Soaperhero’ dispensers and co-ordinated competition, Deb will also be providing schools with a plentiful supply of education materials on the importance of effective hand hygiene. Posters for children on how and why they should wash their hands with soap are crucial in reinforcing the message, as is providing teachers with well thought-out lesson plans and activities on the topic. As part of the ‘Soaperhero’ campaign, Deb will also be providing schools with a comprehensive themed support package, including hand washing mazes and crosswords for the children to complete at school.
Providing children with the correct products, positive role models and an abundance of learning materials on effective hand hygiene procedures will ensure that compliance is adhered to in educational institutions around the country in a fun, engaging and memorable way.
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About the Author
Paul Jakeway is the Marketing Director for Deb in the UK & Ireland.
Having recently joined the business in 2015, Paul is focused on raising awareness of the importance of hand hygiene best practice in the workplace to prevent the spread of germs and improve skin health.
To connect with Paul, please contact him on LinkedIn.