Brenda Cheer ERIC nurse
Brenda Cheer believes early intervention is the key to good bowel and bladder health

Children deserve the best start in life, but bladder and bowel problems can stop them leading full lives and can affect their health, wellbeing and achievements. Bladder and bowel problems aren’t just an inconvenience. Every year in England alone there are 15,000 hospital admissions in the under 19s for problems like severe constipation and Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). When these problems persist, they can affect psychological, emotional and physical health.

Every child and young person has the right to toilet independently, wherever that is physically possible. ERIC is working to ensure schools, healthcare professionals and parents collaborate to make this a reality.

Helping schools support children with bladder and bowel problems

We help early years settings, primary and secondary schools to implement best practice when managing childhood continence problems, provide children with regular access to drinking water and good toilet facilities and ensure school nurses have access to appropriate training.

We also campaign so that the needs of children with wee and poo problems are represented in Government policies and legislation relating to health and wellbeing at school.

As the ERIC Nurse, I deliver daytime wetting and soiling training seminars for school nurses and other healthcare professionals, giving them skills and knowledge to support children, families and school staff.

Improving knowledge of childhood continence problems

I’m often surprised at how little school nurses, community nurses and other professionals know about the management of childhood continence problems, though the problems are common and management is relatively simple. There’s no magic wand, getting clean and dry is the result of hard work by children, their parents, and all the people who look after them. But you need to know what to work on first.

The most shocking thing is that the people who come to ERIC’s training seminars are the ones who know they need to learn about childhood wetting and soiling problems. What about all the other professionals who say things like “Don’t worry, he’ll grow out of it…” or “Parents have to go into school to change children who have soiled” or “You need to be referred to a specialist for this”?

Promoting awareness of good bladder and bowel health

I would like to reach out not just to the children who come forward for help, but to all children, to teach parents what is normal bladder and bowel behaviour, when and where to seek help. And I want to help professionals so they know what information to give families and when.

But I can’t support every child and family. I can’t speak to every teacher or educate every school nurse and health visitor. But it's not all bad. There are some fantastic healthcare professionals who know the right things to say and when to say them, and how to advise schools so children with continence problems are fully included and cared for with understanding.

We need to change things so instead of being in the minority, these fantastic healthcare professionals become the norm, so that together with ERIC they can reach out to every child who needs support.

To bring about this change, we need to inform, educate, campaign and support schools and healthcare professionals. 

If you’re able to support us with a donation so we can continue our vital work, you can help us to ensure children and young people with bladder and bowel problems get the care they need so they can stay focused on learning, developing and playing at school.

Please consider making a donation today.