This week’s guest post is written by School Nurse, Rosie Cox, winner of the Bashyr Aziz Shield for using innovative and creative thought to improve specialist practice for her book ‘Pirate Pete and the Fearsome Skids’.

After a thirteen year career as a Paediatric Nurse I embraced the opportunity of moving into the community as a School Nurse. One of the first families I supported was a family struggling with their daughter’s soiling; it affected all areas of their lives and restricted social activities due to the embarrassment and stigma associated with soiling in public.

School nurse holding awardRosie's become an award-winning writer with her book about constipation

Dealing with constipation within the clinical setting was simply a matter of elevating the symptom, not necessarily treating the cause. So supporting this family to assess and establish a plan in order to significantly improve their current situation took time, commitment and a great deal of trust by the family that the advice given would eventually work.

One of the biggest obstacles was getting the family and school staff to talk about poo and recognise how their reactions to poo accidents led to their daughter hiding soiled pants and withholding poo to avoid a negative response.

This experience led me to write the book ‘Pirate Pete and the Fearsome Skids’. The book was developed to be read by adults to children and open up the lines of communication around an everyday bodily function that for some is taboo or, at best, misunderstood.

Many people do not recognise the signs and symptoms of constipation and few relate the presence of poo in underwear to a constipated bowel. Early identification of constipation and effective treatment can improve outcomes for children and young people (NICE, 2013).

I really enjoy creative writing and find presenting public health information in an informal and humorous context is accepted more readily by adults and young people alike.

Future titles dealing with constipation that I'm working on include ‘Princess Plum and her Smelly Bum’ and ‘Dr Poo and the Turdis’. I also plan to publish ‘Dogsby and the Beach Party’ (about sun safety), ‘Boo’s Goo’ (hand washing) and a C.S.I style lesson plan for Key Stage 2 on Viruses and Bacteria.

Being awarded the Bashyr Aziz Shield was a huge achievement, especially for a dyslexic who views her dyslexia as a form of word constipation! The Shield, otherwise known as the Bashyr Aziz Prize, is presented to the Specialist Community Nursing student at the University of Wolverhampton, who, in the view of the Specialist Practice Teaching Team, has demonstrated the highest level of innovative and creative thought in their project for innovating specialist practice.

ERIC played a fundamental role in developing the book to be an educational tool, by allowing me to use their logo and agreeing to share resources.

ERIC’s Let’s Talk About Poo campaign, which seeks to raise awareness and understanding of children's pooing problems among parents, carers and health and education professionals – is imperative if we are truly to make any headway in how soiling and constipation is managed. It simply is not just a physical condition that should be elevated before it becomes chronic, but something which managed inappropriately can have unnecessary psychological implications.

Download my book ‘Pirate Pete and the Fearsome Skids’.

The time has come, Let’s Talk About Poo!!