As any parent is aware, childcare facilities are notorious for spreading diseases and illnesses. Several studies indicate that children in daycare centres or ELCs are more prone to suffering from infections and illnesses than those cared for at home. While this may sound scary and may tempt some parents into pulling their kids out of daycare, the truth of the matter is that ELCs and daycares are a very necessary part of our society. Often, they are the only way a working parent can resume their career and afford living essentials.
So what can be done to reduce the higher prevalence of infections in children attending formal child care? The answer lies in effective infection control through the promotion of immunisations, decontamination, food safety, encouraging proper handwashing, isolation of unwell staff and children as well as regular, efficient cleaning protocols using the services of a commercial cleaning company.
How germs spread in ELCs
As the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, the most infectious of diseases are those that are spread through the air we breathe and common surfaces we touch. Depending upon the disease, the virus, bacteria, germ or protozoa causing it may be capable of surviving hours or even days on surfaces. Because children under the age of five can rarely be expected to pay attention to their handwashing and cleanliness habits, it is easy for these organisms to spread from one infected person to another.
Effective Infection Control Measures To Adopt
There are a number of effective steps ELC operators can take to reduce infection rates at their childcare centres. These include:
In addition to encouraging parents to get children attending your daycare vaccinated against the most common infectious diseases (Hepatitis A and B, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, Chicken Pox, Pertussis, Tetanus and Diphtheria), also encourage your staff members to stay updated on their immunisations. Some children and adults do have an adverse reaction to certain vaccinations (although the percentage is quite low), and making sure all other children and adults around them are immunised can also protect these immunocompromised children from contracting infectious diseases.
- Encourage good handwashing practices:
The average child in Australia going to daycare spends around 25.2 hours weekly at their daycare centre. During this time, it is important to encourage children and staff to wash their hands using soap and running water several times in the day, but specifically in the following instances:
- Upon arrival at the ELC
- After using the restroom
- Before and after eating and handling food
- Before and after changing nappies
- After wiping their noses
- After cleaning up bodily fluids like urine, faeces, vomit or blood
- Before leaving the ELC.
Food handling and safety:
When staff members taking care of changing nappies are also preparing or handling food in an ELC, the rates of stomach infections, diarrhea and other gastrointestinal diseases increase threefold. It is imperative that staff take the necessary steps to minimise contamination. This includes proper handwashing before and after changing nappies and handling food, appropriate disposal of used nappies, using gloves and hairnets when preparing food, storing, cooking and reheating food appropriately and cleaning and disinfecting benches and tables both prior to and after meals.
- Cleaning and disinfection:
Once everyone has left for the day, it’s time to call a commercial cleaning company to thoroughly clean and disinfect the premises and get it ready for the next day. These professionals will ensure all bins are emptied at the end of the day, all toys, door handles and other high-touchpoint areas are cleaned and disinfected, toilets are cleaned and sanitised and all floors and carpets are thoroughly swept and vacuumed to prevent contamination and disease spread. They will also restock the premises with non-perishable essentials such as toilet paper rolls, hand soap and sanitisers. Occasionally, you may also enlist their help to conduct more thorough deep cleans including tasks like cleaning HVAC filters and air ducts to ensure healthy, clean air, steam clean carpets, deep clean kitchens and food prep areas and more.
Having a commercial cleaning service on board to efficiently and effectively manage proper cleaning protocols and improve air quality will free up your staff’s time to focus on caring for the children entrusted to them.