Educational and Information leaflet on best cleaning him practices released

A new cleaning education and information leaflet has been produced by the project team. This integrates insights from the project findings and has been iteratively design with the communities.

The aim of the material is to present using a visual language 8 key actionable insights on the best ways to clean one’s home. The leaflet come in two pages and can be downloaded and used for free.

Creative tools freely available to engage research participants in WASH and AMR research

As a result of the project the team has developed a range of design research tools which can be used to support projects using creative methods for:

a) collecting data on home cleaning and hygiene related to WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) and/or Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR);

b) for co-designing cleaning interventions with professionals and communities to reduce the spread of infections in the home and other built environments. These can be freely downloaded (they are in PDF format) and be modified by researchers to suit their research needs.

These tools are an outcome of interdisciplinary research that combines design research with microbiology analysis. Therefore these tools reflect this in their design by integrating microbiological elements in the data visualisation and data gathering process.

Microbiology study reveals link between dust and AMR

Dust Bunny has investigated the microbiological content of dust by isolating bacteria from dust obtained from a range of homes in Accra in Ghana. 

We tested the bacteria for resistance to a number of commonly used antibiotics and found that about 35% of those tested carried resistance to at least one antibiotic and some carried resistance to more than one. 

Some of antibiotic resistant bacteria were identified and no were found to be disease-causing but the majority were opportunist pathogens and could cause disease in people who were already suffering from infectious or non-infectious diseases. 

The most common bacterium found was a non-pathogenic bacterium found in soil but even so it carried a number of resistance which could pass to antibiotic sensitive pathogens making their treatment more difficult. 

Although the sample size was relatively small it showed us that although the dust was a low risk to health with respect to infectious disease, it provides a pool of antibiotic resistance that could compromise future infections. 

Dust Bunny’s unique research methodology published by the Design Journal

The unique and truly multidisciplinary research methodology employed by the Dust Bunny research team has been published in the Design Journal. The paper is entitled ‘Combining design research with microbiology to tackle drug-resistant infections in different home environments in Ghana: Challenging the boundaries of design thinking‘ and can be freely accesses from here.

It posits that the approach adopted has the opportunity to provide a platform for understanding complex issues regarding microbiology (microbial resistance) and public health through engaging the community of practice. Doing this from various perspectives (design, social science, epidemiology/public health and microbiological perspectives) presents the best opportunity to adequately address emerging public health concerns, such as antimicrobial resistance in the home setting.

We envisage that the experiences and insights outlined in this paper, will help other researchers to embark on transdisciplinary research that challenges the boundaries of design in new specialist medical areas.

Microbiology data analysis to be completed soon

Following the collection of dust data samples from the 12 households participating in the study, the team has been analysing them used different microbiology analyses.

This will help determine if the bacterial strains being identified are of public health importance i.e. known to cause any disease and if these are resistant to one or more antibiotics. 

Then the team will assess the implications in the household (i.e. babies and toddlers, food safety, treatment/control options, etc…) and whether, in terms of cleaning, there are any particular cleaning processes (i.e. detergents) that can kill these? 

Dust Bunny presented at the EAD2019 Conference

The Dust Bunny project was presented at the 13th International Conference of the European Academy of Design (EAD), in Dundee, UK. The conference, was found to promote the publication and dissemination of research in design through by different educational institutions in Europe and the publication of proceedings, newsletters and a journal.

The paper and discussions that followed after its presentation raised awareness on the project. It presented its unique research approach of combining design-led research with microbiology profiling methods. It highlighted some of the lessons learned in applying design research within this context and the benefits of such a transdispilinary research for both microbiology and design.

It is envisaged that the paper presented, which is also published and can be accessed at the Design Journal, will encourage further transdiciplinary research collaborations for tackling global health challenges, such as antimicrobial resistance.

Preliminary findings from the design ethnography

The design ethnography was intended to give researchers a closer understanding of the cleaning practices and the perceptions of cleanliness and hygiene, in relation to dust, of householders and the people who regularly clean homes as part of, and for, households in the Greater Accra Region of Ghana. In addition, it sought to gain insights into the physical actions undertaken and the range of cleaning agents and cleaning tools used as part of those actions. During the review of the data fifteen recurrent themes emerged.

1. Religion, superstition and traditional practice
2. Individual creed over religious practice
3. Social judgement
4. Taught knowledge and situated practice
5. Negotiated practice
6. Cleaning styles are often tacit practices
7. Repetition
8. Different brooms for different rooms
9. Walking dirt in and sweeping dirt out
10. New and old or new for old
11. Chemical storage and safety practices, strong smells and mitigations
12. Dusting, sweeping, scrubbing and mopping
13. Tools
14. Waste disposal
15. Seasonal Variation

Additional work is currently undertaken to develop these initial findings along with the microbiology sampling analysis and the development and testing of interventions.