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Why do you recommend that Wash’Em is not used in institutional settings (e.g. health centers, schools or workplaces)?

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Marike Kuyper
Global Learning Advisor

One of the strengths and limitations of Wash’Em is that it is narrow in its focus. In particular it is designed to be used in community settings in humanitarian crises or outbreaks. We generally discourage people from using Wash’Em in schools, health care settings or workplaces because in institutional settings there are different factors that are likely to affect behavior. For example, in institutional settings you have different types of relationships at play (e.g. students vs teachers, health care staff vs patients) and different power dynamics and responsibilities (e.g. health workers are required to wash hands as part of their job). In health care settings and certain workplace environments there are also different key moments for hand hygiene as compared to community settings. Therefore if you use the Wash’Em tools in these institutional settings you need to appreciate that you may only be exploring parts of the barriers to handwashing. The second challenge with use of Wash’Em in institutions like schools and health care settings is that the activities are not specifically designed for these settings. The Wash’Em tools are also designed for use with adults. Some of the methods can be effectively used with young adults and teenagers but in general data collection among children in crisis-affected settings needs skilled data collectors and must consider ethical and protection issues. Please contact if you are thinking about working in these settings and we can recommend some alternatives.