False Nails and Flip flops

Some colleagues were asking for opinions on whether early years staff should be permitted to wear false nails or flip flops.

The discussion prompted a wide range of opinions. False nails were considered unprofessional or unhygienic, others felt that they made no difference to the quality of care the staff member could provide. Some said high quality false nails were just as hygienic as real ones and further indicated someone who took care of their personal hygiene whereas others considered that there are dangerous chemicals in false nails potentially harmful to babies. Safety was considered an issue with the danger of scratching or poking and potential of nail falling in food or being swallowed by a baby.

I have to say I am not a false nails kind of gal (you may have realised that from my lack of “false nail” terminology) and, having been an avid nail biter as a child, really quite happy if they look clean and half decent. However, I did have to think about whether the fact someone has false nails could make them any less good at their job. There was only one argument put forward that I could really consider valid, long nails make it difficult to do CPR on a baby, but surely real nails would pose the same problem?

Flip flops were a more relevant topic for me, as I regularly wear sandals. They were considered too casual, unprofessional and, even dangerous with the risk of trip hazard or injury if, say, something was dropped on a foot. Moreover, if a child was injured, the staff member would not be able to run to help. Being flippant (or flipfloppant 😉 that did make me wonder about whether there should be a running test on interview, I’m sure many people in flip-flops will be able to run a lot faster than me in my very best go-faster trainers.

More seriously I don’t think there is a “right” answer to the issue of whether early years staff should be able to wear false nails and flip flops, it really depends on the dress code and image of the individual setting. Some settings may have very formal staff dress codes in the same way as schools have uniform codes whereas others will be more relaxed and informal. It would really be up to the management to set policy on staff dress code and for them to decide how to enforce that if necessary.

Personally, however, the discussions made me consider whether the quality of care a child receives depends on how the carer looks or what the carer wears? I did some of my early training with a staff member who was always immaculately dressed in long tight skirts, high heels and impeccable make up. She never got down on the floor and certainly never got involved in anything messy but at the same time was a warm and caring individual who was adored by the children. It is obvious that parents, families and carers come in all shapes and sizes and that each has something unique to offer in the raising of a child. Children are spending longer and longer in a professional care environment, I can’t help but wonder if their interests would be better served by enabling and encouraging care environments to reflect “normal” society and, rather than forcing staff to conform, to celebrate their diversity and individuality which, surely, in turn, encourages children to respect and appreciate everyone for who they are rather than what they wear.

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Posted on June 27, 2015, in Jane's Blog and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I think it just depends where you work. At my school, were allowed to wear false nails as long as they arnt a ridiculous length but we are not allowed to wear flip flops – mainly for the reasons you stated as well as children stamping on our feet in anger.

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