“Wash your hands when you come in”, “Make sure you wash before dinner”, “Show me your hands” – just some of the echos of my childhood which I’m sure many of you recognise.
Ahead of World Antibiotic Awareness Week and European Antibiotic Awareness Day I spent much of my time at the RPS researching, collating and checking resources to support antimicrobial stewardship for the RPS AMS Portal.
I learnt a lot and guess what – our mothers were right! One of the simplest ways to reduce the use of antimicrobials is hand washing (or hand hygiene as it is referred to in healthcare settings). Not just to remove visible dirt but to remove bacteria and viruses which could cause infections such as upset stomachs, coughs, colds or pneumonia. Washing your hands properly should take 20 seconds, as long as it takes to sing “Happy Birthday to you” twice.
Simple you think – but wait – the RPS Handwashing essential guide states that 84% of British adults don’t wash their hands for long enough and 65% of people don’t always wash their hands before eating. The infographic below has other figures which make uncomfortable reading.
I mentioned these gruesome figures one evening at home and an unexpected consequence was that my daughter, who teaches a Year 2 class, was interested in using this information at school in some way. I suggested having a look at the e-bug resource (another resource found during my AMS research) and together with the ‘handwashing and mouldy bread experiment’ (look it up on youtube!) she formulated a lesson plan. The children loved it – and it became a feature of their end of term assembly.
So, what started as a literature review style research project on antimicrobial stewardship and resistance ended up as a theme for a school assembly. It illustrates that antimicrobial stewardship belongs to us all – organisations, health professionals and all ages of members of the public. Now, during World Antibiotic Awareness Week, take some time to have a look at the AMS Portal. This is essentially a signposting resource linking to antimicrobial stewardship resources under six key categories: strategy, policy and guidance; clinical and technical guidance, initiatives and campaigns, training and educations resources, journals; and organisations. The AMS Portal focuses on GB resources for pharmacists and pharmacy teams although we recognise the need to signpost to worldwide information and resources from outside GB are also included.
Have a browse – you might even find yourself influencing another school lesson or even humming ‘Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you………………….’!