Specialist NHS nurses are teaching children from across Northumberland about the importance of good hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of viruses.
Nurses from Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s infection prevention and control team have carried out sessions with almost 1,500 children to share the message ahead of winter, traditionally the time of year when more bugs circulate in the community.
The children, mostly aged four-to-seven years from almost 30 schools, have been shown the correct hand-washing technique, taught why hand washing is important and given information about the consequences of not washing their hands properly.
The sessions are part of the trust’s aim to raise awareness of the role people of all ages can play in helping to stop the spread of viruses with efforts stepped up as part of International Infection Prevention Week 2018, which ran from October 14 to 20.
Last winter, the infection control team was pivotal in managing the trust’s record number of norovirus and flu outbreaks with the team’s ‘vigorous and appropriate’ response praised by an independent external clinician.
Heather Lawson, community infection prevention and control nurse at the trust, said: “It is everyone’s responsibility to play a part in helping to reduce the spread of viruses and washing your hands thoroughly and regularly is the single most effective thing you can do.
“Our sessions in schools across Northumberland and North Tyneside have proved really successful with the children really eager to learn how to wash their hands properly.
“We hope the children will share their learning with their families to enable our message – not viruses – to be passed on.”
As a result of the sessions – described as practical, interactive and relevant – some schools have introduced hand-hygiene monitors to ensure younger children are washing their hands properly.
Northumbria Healthcare is reminding people with symptoms of diarrhoea and vomiting not to visit loved ones in hospital until they have been symptom-free for 48 hours.