2.2.2 Intimate Care
This chapter describes the arrangements that need to be in place in relation to the Intimate Care of children in Youth and Play Settings. This chapter should be read in conjunction with Safeguarding in Youth and Play Settings Procedure and Health and Safety Procedure.
Intimate care is any care which involves washing, touching or carrying out an invasive procedure (such as cleaning a child after they have soiled themselves) to intimate personal areas. In most cases such care will involve cleaning for hygiene purposes as part of a staff member's duty of care.
Children have the right to be safe and be treated with dignity, privacy and respect in relation to their bodies.
The issue of intimate care is a sensitive one and will require staff to be respectful of the child's needs. The child's dignity should always be preserved with a high level of privacy, choice and control. Staff behaviour must be open to scrutiny and staff must work in partnership with parents/carers to provide continuity of care to children wherever possible.
Staff working with children need to be sensitive to each child's individual need and ensure that, when appropriate they work with parents to draw up an Individual Intimate Care Plan. This Care Plan should provide consistency between home and the play setting. The Care Plan should be written in a manner that can be understood by all playworkers.
When the child is admitted without an Intimate Care Plan and their needs change one should be drawn up.
Providing intimate care can sometimes lead to situations where a Playworker is concerned about the welfare of the child. This could be the observation of marks or bruises or something that the child says or does. In these situations the Playworker has an obligation to report their concerns to their Manager and record as outlined in Safeguarding in Youth and Play Settings Procedure, Recording.
- The care should be provided in a manner that is fitting to the child's stage of development as opposed to their chronological age. This means that the worker should have an understanding of the child's abilities and should react accordingly and this especially true for a child with special needs.
- The intimate care should be provided in a manner that enables the child to be involved in its own care. Wherever possible the care should be provided in a way that enables the child to learn how to take greater responsibility for their own intimate care. The worker should explain to the child exactly how the care would be given. For some children the use of visual cues or the staff modeling the procedure is desirable.
- The intimate care will be carried out by the same playworker wherever possible and if the child shows signs of dislike for a particular playworker, consideration should be given whether that playworker can change their practice or the care would be better provided by another playworker. In exceptional circumstances more than one playworker may need to undertake the care such as:
- There are manual handling issues and a risk assessment has been done.
- The child has extra needs for support such as uncontrolled epilepsy
- A child has a history of making allegations against adults and there is reason to think that this could happen again
Playworkers should only undertake tasks that they are familiar with or that they are competent to complete.
- Intimate Care should be provided with as much consistency as possible and this means that:
- The Playworker follows the Intimate Care Plan
- Where different playworkers provide the care they should provide it in the same manner
- Be sensitive and responsive to the child's reactions that may change. The Playworker should aim to promote the child's self image and throughout the procedure ensure that the child is comfortable with what is happening. The Playworker should ensure that the child is confident that their body belongs to them and that if they say 'no at anytime this will be respected.
- Encourage the child to have a positive image of its own body and express the naturalness of nature.