Understanding continence issues and providing care
All children develop differently. Some may achieve bladder and/or bowel continence quickly, while others might find it more challenging to develop the skills they need.
Children and young people may experience short- or long-term continence issues as they grow up. These might include one or more of the following:
- daytime wetting
- soiling themselves
- needing to go to the toilet more frequently
- not being able to urinate, or withholding urine
- needing to go to the toilet urgently
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
(Bladder & Bowel UK and ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity, 2019)1.
Bladder and bowel issues can be caused by medical conditions, disabilities and/or psychological issues that are beyond a child’s control. This can have a long-lasting impact on the child’s behaviour, mental health and wellbeing. It’s important that any child with bladder or bowel issues is assessed by a healthcare professional with relevant experience.
Sometimes challenges related to continence may be an indicator that a child has experienced abuse. And sometimes a child’s parents or carers might be struggling to provide them with the care they need.
This means it’s vital that all children and young people who are experiencing continence issues receive appropriate, timely and holistic support and care.
We’ve worked with the Paediatric Continence Forum (PCF) to put together some best practice information that will help you recognise and respond to continence issues that may affect the children and young people you work with.
On this page, you can find out more about:
- the causes of continence issues
- the impact these can have on a child’s wellbeing
- what to do when challenges related to continence may indicate a safeguarding or child protection concern
- how best to support children and young people with continence issues by developing or making changes to care plans
- who should be providing intimate care, including information about vetting and barring checks, privacy and boundaries
- what relevant guidance across the UK says.
ReferencesBladder & Bowel UK and ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity (2019) Managing bladder and bowel issues in nurseries, schools and colleges: guidance for school leaders, proprietors, governors, staff and practitioners (PDF). [Manchester]: Bladder & Bowel UK.