Stopping the spread of infection in childhood education and care services

In the education and care service that your child attends, the educators and staff try to limit the spread of disease to keep the children and staff healthy.

Hands play an important role in spreading germs. For that reason, hand hygiene is a very effective way to control the spread of infection. Hand hygiene means washing hands with soap and water or using an alcohol-based hand rub.

The most effective method of hand hygiene is soap and water. Washing your hands with soap and running water loosens, dilutes, and flushes off dirt and germs.

It is very important to remember to dry your hands completely after washing. Damp hands pick up and transfer up to 1000 times more bacteria than dry hands. Drying your hands thoroughly also helps remove any germs that may not have been rinsed off.

Alcohol-based hand rubs are a fast and effective way to remove germs that may have been picked up by touching contaminated surfaces. Alcohol-based hand rubs reduce the number of germs on your hands, but they are not as good at removing dirt from your hands. If your hands are visibly dirty, washing with soap and water is the best way to clean your hands.

Droplets can spread many germs through the air. By covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, you reduce how far the droplets can travel and stop them from contaminating other surfaces or being breathed in by others.

In the past, people were encouraged to cover their coughs and sneezes with their hands. But if you do not clean your hands immediately, germs stay on your hands and can be transferred to other surfaces.

To prevent the spread of germs from coughing and sneezing, cough and sneeze into your inner elbow.

Should you use a tissue to cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, put your tissue in the bin straight away and perform hand hygiene with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub.

The education and care service carries out daily cleaning of the environment. Regular cleaning with water and detergent will remove germs from surfaces and reduce the risk of a person picking up a germ from a potentially contaminated surface.

Using detergent and water and scrubbing action will loosen and lift the dirt from the surface. The surface should be rinsed with water and left to dry. Regular environmental cleaning is a very effective way to stop the spread of disease.

You may see educators and other staff wearing disposable gloves in their daily routines. This is because germs can spread quickly in education and care services, and gloves provide a protective barrier against germs.

They can use gloves for:

  • Nappy changing
  • Managing cuts and abrasions
  • Cleaning up body fluids such as urine, feces, saliva, vomit, or blood.

At home, you will most likely not use disposable gloves. Effective hand hygiene, using soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, is a suitable alternative to wearing gloves at home.