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In response to requests from families, schools and health care professionals, the charities Bladder & Bowel UK and ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity, have teamed up to produce comprehensive, practical information for educational establishments regarding bladder and bowel issues and toileting in schools.

Available as a free downloadable resource and supported by a short film, Managing Bladder and Bowel Issues in Nurseries, Schools and Colleges provides much needed clear, concise guidance for school leaders, proprietors, governors, staff and practitioners.

Topics covered include:

  • How to promote good bladder and bowel health in schools
  • Hygiene standards / provision of school toilets
  • Managing incontinence in schools
  • National legislation for the four countries of the UK
  • Safeguarding
  • Continence policy and care plans (sample policy and care plan are provided)

Continence conditions are among the most common health issues affecting children and young people - in excess of 900,000 children in the UK suffer bowel and bladder difficulties. Growing numbers of children are also starting school still wearing nappies – an issue placing a huge burden on teachers both in time and resources. Some parents report that being repeatedly called into school to change their child after a wetting or soiling accident has left them unable to work.

The impact can be profound on a child or young person’s life. Bladder and bowel difficulties are associated with stigma, embarrassment and shame; they cause avoidance of school trips and sleepovers; they impact social interactions, wellbeing, educational attainment and progress.

“I can’t remember a time I wasn’t bullied because of my wetting problem. At junior school I would have regular accidents and be taunted constantly in the playground for ‘smelling like fish’. I didn’t have any friends. I always wanted to sit inside at break to avoid the bullies”. Beccie

Welcoming the document, Sharon White, OBE and CEO of School and Public Health Nurses Association says: “This guidance not only helps us better understand the key and far-reaching role that education has to play in better managing continence issues, but also highlights the critical interface and role of health such as school nurses, paediatricians, continence services, and other agencies, including the children and young people themselves.

Educational attendance, attainment and health are intrinsically linked. Therefore, the more we can do to minimise the negative impact on a pupil’s health and well-being, the more likely they are to flourish and grow.”

Lead author and specialist children’s bladder and bowel nurse, Davina Richardson says: “Our respective helplines hear daily from families who are left with feelings of despair due to struggling alone with the burdens of disturbed sleep, constant washing and having to take unplanned time off work due to the unpredictability of soiling and/or wetting ‘accidents’. Against this background, many families find it difficult to ask for help. If they are met with a lack of understanding or inappropriate response from health services, nursery, school or college their problems are compounded.”

Juliette Rayner, CEO of ERIC says: “We hope this guidance will raise awareness of the prevalence and range of different continence conditions, encourage positive action between school and home whilst providing information and strategies for preventing and managing bladder and bowel conditions in educational settings.”

This guidance has been endorsed by the following organisations; The Association of Continence Advisors (ACA), The Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF) and the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE).

Download guidance