New resource to help nurseries and schools with children's toileting problems

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A new guide offers advice to nurseries to help them cope with a rise in the number of young children in early years settings and schools who are not toilet-trained.

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A Right to Go: A Guide to Helping Early Years Settings and Schools Manage Continence outlines minimum standards on continence care in early years settings and schools.

The resource, developed by ERIC, a charity concerned with childhood continence in the UK, aims to enable practitioners, healthcare professionals and parents to work through the issues surrounding toileting problems in a practical way.

It also provides information on the development of common childhood continence problems, how to create a continence policy and individual health care plans, promote bladder and bowel health in schools, along with ways to support children with special needs who have continence issues.

The resource, which is free to download, has been created in response to findings from a survey by ERIC and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers last year that highlighted an increase in the number of young children wetting or soiling themselves during the school day.

More than 70 per cent of respondents said they had noticed an increase in the number of three-to-five-year-olds wetting or soiling themselves over the past five years. The main reason they gave for this increase was parents not toilet-training their children before starting school.

The charity believes that the introduction of the SEN Disability Act in 2011 and the Disability Discrimination Act in 2005, now the Equalities Act 2010, may have led to some schools believing that they can no longer refuse to take children who are not toilet trained.

The same survey also revealed that many primary schools do not have a written policy in place for dealing with childhood continence problems, with four in ten primary staff stating this is the case.

Jenny Perez, director of ERIC, said, ‘Around one in 12 children in the UK suffer with ongoing continence issue such as daytime wetting, soiling or constipation, which is often extremely distressing for the child and those around them. It's vital that all children with continence issues have an individual care plan that ensures their toileting needs are appropriately managed in school. We urge school staff, healthcare professionals and parents to download our guidance and help ensure that children’s education, health and wellbeing at school is not compromised by continence issues, and that they receive the care they deserve.’

She added, ‘Schools need to be clear about their expectation that children should be using the toilet independently when they start school. They can support parents to achieve this by providing resources and information, available from ERIC, at the time that the child’s place in school is confirmed. Health visitors and school nurses also have a role to play.’

A Right to Go: A Guide to Helping Early Years Settings and Schools Manage Continence is available to download from the ERIC website. A leaflet version is also available. The resource was developed in partnership with PromoCon, part of Disabled Living.

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