Soapy Heroes: Creating life-long healthy habits

Ms Donna Cameron1,2, Ms Meredith Cameron1, Dr Simon Crouch1, Ms Hazel Penfold1, Dr Claire Tobin3, Mr Alastair Bradtke3, Ms Brooke Wilson3

1Department of Health and Human Services, Melbourne, Australia,
2Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory, Melbourne, Australia,
3Department of Education and Training, Melbourne, Australia

Background:

Encouraging children to wash their hands is a critical step in reducing the outbreak of communicable diseases. The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services and the Victorian Department of Education and Training (DET) therefore joined forces to develop a program to support hand hygiene practices among Victoria’s children.

Method:

A hand hygiene program was developed for Victorian schools, which included the following.

  • The ‘Soapy Heroes’ animation and complimentary resources.
  • The development of ‘Clean hands’ curriculum designed for use with Foundation (Prep to Year 2) students.
  • Provision of 200 GlitterBug® kits for schools.
  • Revision of DET hygiene policies.

The program was launched by the Victorian Chief Health Officer in August 2017. All resources developed were made available through Better Health Channel, DET website and promoted via social media.

Results:

All Victorian public schools were surveyed regarding provision of soap in student toilets via the school census before and after introduction of the program. There was a 10% increase in schools reporting they provided soap following the introduction of the program compared to baseline responses.

A survey of schools who received a Glitterbug® kit was conducted; 90% of 24 respondents reported that they would build hand hygiene education into the curriculum in future years.

Conclusion:

The creation of healthy habits during childhood is important to ensure lifelong healthy decisions and actions. The Victorian schools hand hygiene program has been a successful resource for teaching one of the most important healthy habits to reduce the spread of a range of diseases.


Biography:

Donna Cameron is an Infection Control Consultant with the Donna is an Infection Control Consultant with the Microbiological Diagnostic Unit Public Health Laboratory and Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control at the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services where she provides infection control advice to non-acute healthcare facilities and other community-based practices, such as beauty therapists and tattoo artists.

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