Brenda Cheer, ERIC Nurse at ERIC, The Children’s Bowel & Bladder Charity
Many readers will be familiar with ERIC, the Children’s Bowel and Bladder Charity, and the wealth of resources available to download. Historically the charity was limited to potty training and functional bladder and bowel problems – indeed when it was formed in 1988 it was set up as an organisation to support families of children who wet the bed.
These days ERIC seeks to support the families of children with any bladder or bowel problem. And not just those with problems – health promotion is high on ERIC’s agenda. Content on the website has broadened to include support for those experiencing bladder and bowel issues at school, a Children’s Continence Pathway, information about sensory needs and toileting, interoception, toilet anxiety – the list goes on.
Many of the resources are equally applicable to children with complex bladder and bowel issues – and this one is specially for that important group of young people. Opening the leaflet, we meet Gracjan, who was born with Spina Bifida, Arwin who has sacral agenesis, Mali, born with Imperforate Anus – 14 children in all. All the children talk about what is special about their bladder and/or bowel, and what they have to do to sort their wee and poo.
Why is this so important? For years I have worked with children who have to catheterise, to perform Transanal Irrigation, to wear stoma bags, nappies and pads. Almost all think that they are the only one – surely no-one else has to use a tube to drain their wee, or pump water into their bottom to get the poo out. As a society we rarely talk about wee and poo in public – so how are they ever going to realise that they are not the only one?
When realisation dawns that other people do it too the relief is palpable. So, let’s help the children we work with start on their journey out of that lonely world – and introduce them to Gracjan, Arwin and Mali.
ERIC’s Guide for Children Living with Complex Bladder and Bowel Problems is available to download from www.eric.org.uk. Paper copies can be purchased via the ERIC online shop.
ERIC’s Mission and Vision:
For all children and young people to live a healthy and happy life regardless of any bladder or bowel issue they may face.
To get everyone talking openly about good bladder and bowel health; to empower children and carers with support, information and resources; to contribute to research and policy development and to deliver the best education and advice to all those working with families.