New ‘Right to Go’ guidance urges schools and nurseries to improve continence care for children.

School nurses can download the full guidance ‘The Right to Go: A Guide to Helping Early Years Settings and Schools Manage Continence’ via the ERIC website, www.eric.org.uk. A shorter version of the guidance is also available to download, or in hard copy.

ERIC (Education and Resources for Improving Childhood Continence) is launching an important resource that outlines minimum standards on continence care in school and early years settings.

The Right to Go resource has been developed to enable school staff, healthcare professionals and parents to work through the issues surrounding toileting problems in a very practical way. It provides information on the development of common childhood continence problems, how to create a continence policy and individual health care plans, how to promote bladder and bowel health in schools and ways to support children with special needs who have continence issues. It highlights the need for schools, health agencies and parents to work in partnership to ensure that child continence issues are managed effectively - and where possible, help the child to achieve continence.

The guidance was developed in response to the results of a survey by ERIC and the ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) in early 2012. The research highlighted that 62% of primary school staff in the UK have noticed an increase in the number of children wetting or soiling themselves during the school day over the past five years, which increased to 71% amongst those working specifically with three to five year olds. Worryingly, around 4 in 10 (38%) also stated that their school has no written policy for dealing with childhood continence problems.

ERIC also hears directly from teachers and health professionals who struggle to find help and information on supporting childrens’ continence issues in school. The Right To Go is a tool that can be used to help develop effective policies and procedures that support children and empower school staff and health professionals.

Jenny Perez, Director of ERIC says: “Around 1 in 12 children in the UK suffer with an 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 parents, school staff and healthcare professionals to download our guidance and help ensure that childrens’ education, health and wellbeing at school is not compromised by continence issues, and that they receive the care they deserve.”

There are approximately 900,000 children and young people in the UK aged 5-19 years who have a continence problem, which is usually linked to an underlying bladder and / or bowel problem. These problems can have a significant impact on childrens’ emotional and physical health, particularly if they are not receiving the necessary support and treatment. Continence problems can also lead to high levels of stress, not only for the child, but also for parents and teaching staff. Ensuring the right support is in place increases the likelihood of a positive outcome for everyone involved.

The Right to Go resource has been developed by ERIC in partnership with PromoCon, and funded by the Roddick Foundation.