We have always known that good hygiene practices are important in order to stay healthy, and to keep the children we mind healthy. The fact that Covid-19 has arrived here in Ireland, means that our hygiene practices are more important than ever. We all know that washing our hands is key to avoiding infection, and below we have some additional information and references to support your work.
Spread of Germs
This is an interesting visual demonstration and experiment on how easily germs can spread, explained by former NASA engineer Mark Rober.
General Guidelines for Working Childminders
(in your home or in parents’ home)
- Nobody should ring the doorbell, phone from outside the door. If you must use the doorbell, use your elbow instead of your finger. Alternatively bang the door.
- Have hand sanitiser or access to hand washing facilities on entry/exit and insist they are used by all in the household
- Have Anti-Bacterial surface wipes to-hand and regularly wipe down toys throughout the day
- 60 degrees is the recommended washing temperature to kill germs.
Refer to Management of infectious diseases in childcare settings for further information about cleaning toys
In order to reduce the risk of cross infection, it is very important that all the toys are cleaned on a regular basis and that toys that are shared are cleaned between uses by different children.
- Choose toys that are easy to clean, disinfect and dry.
- As we are currently working during a viral outbreak, the use of certain toys (e.g. soft toys, stuffed toys, play dough) should be avoided.
- Wash all plastic toys daily in washing machine (put in a clothes bag or pillow case), dishwasher or a bucket of Milton
- Wooden toys or other toys that cannot be machine washed should be wiped down thoroughly every day with a disinfectant liquid or a disinfectant wipe.
- Jigsaws, puzzles and toys that children are inclined to put in their mouths should be avoided in the current circumstances.
- Discourage children from putting shared toys into their mouths.
- Check all play equipment regularly for signs of damage e.g. breaks or cracks. If these items cannot be repaired or cleaned, they must be discarded.
- Store clean toys/equipment in a clean container or clean cupboard.
- Do not allow toys to be taken into the toilet area.
- Toys must not be stored in the toilet area.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions.
- Always wash your hands after handling contaminated toys and equipment.
Hard back glossy books with glossy pages are ideal to use now as they can be wiped down with a disinfectant liquid or disinfectant wipes.
Keep away from paper books or don’t allow sharing of paperback books as a minimum.
Avoid using jigsaws at this time, as they can’t be wiped down.
Arts & Crafts
Wipe down paint bottles, paintbrushes, water jars after use with a disinfectant liquid or disinfectant wipes.
Wash all items in a child’s cot straight after use (in the washing machine). Spray cot with disinfectant or use disinfectant wipes.
No buggies inside the house. Leave them in your car or a shed at the front of your house.
Specific Guidelines Depending on the scenario you are working in:
Scenario 1: Childminder working in childminders home
Don’t allow parents/guardians or any other visitors to enter your house. Children should be met and leave outside the front door. Avoid physical contact with parents/guardians if at all possible. This will be extremely difficult with babies and wobblers (ie those children not walking).
Limit the areas around the house where children access and try keep childminders own family members (perhaps young adults) and children separate if possible. Particularly if these members are out at work etc.
If you are minding children from two families: Set up a conference call with both families (see Childminding email for details). Get agreement/reassurance from both families that they will only travel from their own home to the childminders home with no other playdates or social contact. It will give reassurance to both families.
Children’s Clothes & Shoes
Ask parents/guardians to supply a few sets of clothes/sleepwear for their children and keep these in your house. This is to avoid these items going in and out of your house. Wash them in your washing machine after use at 60 degrees.
Ask parents/guardians to supply a set of bottles or feeding equipment so that these are not being brought in and out of your house. Sterilise/dishwasher straight after use.
Artwork & Toys
Do not send any artwork, toys or books or any other item home with children.
Scenario 2: Childminder working in parent(s)/guardians home
Practise social distancing with parents/guardians i.e. stay 2 metres apart. Have a phone call with parents/guardians if they want to have a longer discussion about their children or other topic (this is going to be tricky to implement, however you need to protect yourself).
Wash your hands straight away as soon as you enter the house. Use hand sanitizer.
Your Mobile Phone
Wipe this down as soon as you have washed your hands.
Have a small bag to put your keys in. Leave your handbag at home. In summary this means that the only thing coming in to the house with you are your mobile phone and your keys.
Clothes & Shoes
Keep a set of clothes and shoes for work. On your return home, change your clothes near your front door and put straight them in to washing machine. Leave your work shoes in your car.
Do not bring food, drinks (e.g. coffee/flasks), books, newspapers or toys from your house to the children’s house. This means you will need to make arrangements with parents/guardians that they supply your food & drinks while at work.