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Taking Children To The Toilet


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We are in a church hall, toilets are outside of our main room and no way could a child use them unaccompanied, whilst I know it is good practise for staff to go in with a child in pairs it is also impossible and impractical. All staff are CRB checked. But in light of recent events, I have had one staff member say today that she was uncomfortable doing the above and my answer to her was that it was no different to what it had always been and that unless we were told any different we would carry on. To be honest if staff were to start going out in pairs then we would have to employ another member of staff, 2 at the moment!

If anyone goes out to the toilet they usually take more than one child and always tell other staff. If someone was out there for ages someone else would always go and see if things were ok anyway. She said that she felt we were unique in how our toilets were situated and that most other groups allowed children to go on their own as toilets were situated off/in the room. She couldn’t answer what happens when nappies need changing or clothes, do they take someone then to watch? I suppose I just want verification from others that they are in same situation. So is any one and do you do it in pairs?

Obviously this is all in relation to recent events and the whole thing is starting to ‘vex’ me slightly. She is a member of staff who has been with me for over 12 years and is usually level headed and sensible.

Of course it could always be because she has had the misfortune to change some pretty disgusting nappies the last couple of days!!

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Hi Lynne, I'm a childminder so have no option but to take children to the toilet unchaperoned! Surely common sense must prevail?

 

Nona

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The recent events we are all thinking about were not related to false allegations made against someone taking a child to the toilet. The children are no more at risk now than they were before and nor are we as carers. You could perhaps suggest that if staff feel better about it they could make a point of leaving their mobile phones behind when they take the children.

 

Really, as Nona says common sense must prevail. We childminders couldn't do it any differently anyway. There has to be an element of trust in any childcare arrangement so I don't think your situation is unique. Tell her she'll have to find a more inventive way of getting out of doing nappies!

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Hi

I am in the same situation and my staff questioned this as well very recently. Unfortunately we can not afford to do double ups to the loo or nappy change in our staffing. I asked for advise on the subject and was told that even if two people went together to toilets they were not protected in the way staff thought as they could be working together! and cover for each other!

:o Its a horrid subject but we are all now targets, my staff do a 'shout out ' before they go to loo and will say who they have, also we try to get children to be independent in their toileting and do things themselves. But there are still times when staff need to aid our very young children and we stand strong with our beliefs that we are there to care for and educate the children. we discussed how we would feel if a staff member at our pre-school didn't aid one of our own children how would we feel? We would much rather be seen as the pre-school that helps the children to develop and become independent.

 

I truely believe that is not an easy answer particularly when children need to be accompanied to toilet areas in village/community halls.

 

Sue

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Hi we too are in a church hall and have to exit the main room to access the toilets.

 

We don't go in pairs and as you say it would be impractical to do so, with so many 2 year olds at this particular time we seem to live in there anyway! - we do allow the older children to go into the toilets by themselves but we are always by the outer door of the toilets just in case.

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Good you obviously feel as i do, it is no different to what it was last year or 10 years ago. The risk is there but I think we have to have a certain amount of trust or there is no point in doing this job. Leaving mobile phones out of the toilet isn't an option as staff dont have them on them anyway. I did also point out that the charges were all related to children too young to make allegations anyway.

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I am also in the "let common sense prevail" camp here. We must all keep what has happened in perspective. Clearly, in nursery settings, we should all work to minimise time spent on our own with children, and try to work in view of others where possible, but we must not become scared to spend any time alone with children, nor be frightened to undertake their personal care. We have to keep this in balance. Minimising time alone with children is only one arm of any safeguarding policy. it should be backed up with other practices to safeguard.

 

Vigilence and an open mind to possibilities should not mean that we are all too scared to care for children!!

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Guest colechin

One member of staff attends a child at my setting, unless it is a very dirty nappy or dirty/wet clothes and an extra pair of hands is very helpful.

 

I did bring this matter up at a staff meeting when the news was everywhere. The staff informed me that they were happy to assist one at a time. Most of the children are very good and it usually means just standing in the door way and talking to them.

 

Also no staff members carry a mobile phone during a session as there attention should be on the children.

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Hi.........I tried sooooo hard to resist answering..........but it's no good I have to say this.........

 

Nappy changing is NOT a 'spectator sport'.........I know that I am only saying what you already know! Nappy change time, in my humble opinion, should be a one-to-one with the child's key carer - I don't allow other children into the toilet area when a child is being changed nevermind other staff!

 

Nappy changing should be carried out in a calm and caring manner with lots of lovely conversation (not connected to poo!)......

 

Sunnyday

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Totally agree Sunnyday :o

I chat away to children when they are in toilet area and during nappy change some of the children that may not say a lot in the main hall will chat like a mad thing in the loo.

When changing nappy I chat about things (other than poo) makes the job in hand a better experience for the child and staff member.

Sue

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Well sometimes children want to talk about their poo! :o

 

I agree sunnyday - I started to write about this yesterday but got a bit tied up in knots so I used the best editor in the world - the back arrow!

 

I'm not sure what the second person would do whilst the nappy is being changed or whilst the child is going to the toilet - but I would wager they'd be busily chatting to the person who is doing the changing or toileting which would of course make any kind of meaningful exchange between child and key person almost impossible.

 

As providers we should be concentrating on making sure our safeguarding policies and procedures are fit for purpose and that our recruitment processes reduce as far as humanly possible the risk that unsuitable people have access to the children we care for. I worry that if we continue to focus our attention on side issues such as this one (and I include the frequent diktats about not cuddling children or sitting them on a cushion on our laps here) then we will give children the idea that their most basic needs are somehow unpleasant or that the adults around them are unsafe or untrustworthy.

 

Sometimes it can be hard to retain one's perspective and remember that nappy changing or toileting is not just a chore to be managed and got over and done with, but are in fact important opportunities to strengthen emotional ties between practitioner and their key child.

 

Thanks - I feel so much better now!

 

Maz

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If you do a Forum search, you will find lots along this vein. They crop up especially at times of concern, but to be honest - what are the CRBs for????

 

As far as I'm concerned if you're cleared and vetted you can toilet/change unsupervised.

 

Show me the law that says otherwise and I'll reconsider; otherwise - why bother with CRB?

 

Sue

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I knew all of this really but just wanted some reassurance that others felt the same.

As you say Maz, if there were 2 in the toilet/nappy changing what on earth would that 2nd person do but talk to the 1st child. I do think things have to be kept in perspective alos it vcconcerns me what message we would be giving out. On one hand we say, yeah, come on, we're trustworthy, you can leave your little ones with us. But we dont trust our staff to be alone with them or just as bad we dont trust your child not to say something nasty about us.

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we have the same problem as you as our toilets are up a corridoor and so a member of staff has to take the children to toilet - we go alone - as tyou say most times you take more than one child and if a person was away for a time then we would go and see if there was a problem

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I knew all of this really

Of course you did - that's what is so great about the Forum. There is always someone there to reassure you when you're having one of those 'is it just me?' moments!

 

Usually the answer is an overwhelming 'no'! :o

 

Maz

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I know this is a difficult subject and does make everybody think about what they are doing... and as horrible as it is - this isn't always a bad things to stop everybody from being complacent.

 

We're not in the same situation fortunately but I do have a few thoughts....

 

  • Do you have a personal care policy? Does it talk about the toileting arrangements/systems. If parents are aware of how you operate your toileting arrangements, and no-one has raised any concerns then surely that should reassure the staff a little bit.
  • I'm sure I've read in other posts that settings in this situation have 'toilet breaks' where everyone goes at the same time, meaning 2 members of staff could go. And from experience, as soon as one child mentions they need a wee about 5 others always follow suit and we've only got 3 toilets! :o
  • Even though our toilets are off the main room, it becomes quite secluded if the door is closed (even though there is a glass window), and when we first occupied the room, OFSTED said that we would need to keep the door open at all times (so we do, but use a door slam sponge so it can never be completely closed). Is it possible to make sure doors are kept open between main room and toilets?

 

Hope that helps a bit. If anyone wants to see a copy of our Personal Care policy I would happily post it.... although it doesn't cover the issue of leaving the main room for toilets.

 

X X X

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You might also like to put something relating to agency staff in such a policy. I only know one nursery where I am not allowed to change the nappies. This is for the childs privacy and comfort, they dont know me and so it wouldnt be fair on them. I change nappies in any other nursery I've been in, in fact I was once reminded that 'we are a team, we all do the jobs that need doing. Is there any reason you dont change nappies?' My answer was I didnt know it was allowed.

If your staff are worried about taking children to the toilet, I know one setting where the toileting is done on a rota, the staff dont take the same children twice in one day and with 3 staff in the room they had managed to work the rota so that they rarely took the same child in a week.

I do find it sad that we are even talking about this though.

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It is sad, ea very sad. My staff as a whole aren't particularly worried just this one who says she is and to be honest I'm now not discussing it with her, She has done it with no problems for the last 12 years and it is part of her roles and responsibilities, ifshe doesn't like it then well, it's just tough (can you see I had a bad day today!!)

Leaving the door between the main and toilets isn't an option as if another child wandered out unoticed they could then push on the bar to open the fire door,probably wouldn't be able to but wouldn't like to take that chance. It also wouldn't help as we still couldn't see into tthe toilets. Couldn't take all the children on a toilet break as 3 toilets between 25 would take forever, although some days it does seem like someone is in there all day!

We dont use agency staff, I think if we did I wouldn't allow them to take children to toilet or change nappies, for the very reason you are saying, I dont think it would be fair on the children as they wouldn't know them.

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Hi

In my current setting the toilets are down a corridor with 2 key coded doors to get through! (its part of a secondary school...the toilets are used for pre-school only though i hasten to add).

like most of you one staff member accompanies 2 children and we normally have 2 staff on toilet rota for the morning so sometimes the 2 staff are down there. We are thinking of going down the lines of walkie talkie. This was highlighted last week when one staff member had difficulties changing a child (refused to have nappy changed) and fortunately the other staff member turned up. We are also fortunate in that we are always over staffed to cover one staff member being at the toilet all day!!!

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Can I just play devil's advocate for a moment? :o

 

We are fortunate that our loos are just outside the main playroom and therefore this is not a major issue for us but it is something that we have considered even so as you also need to recognise staff vulnerability and build in an element of staff protection too.

 

Knowing how Safeguarding and child protection is such a hot potato always what would you do if a child returned from the toilet and made an allegation (of any type) against the lone member of staff that took him/her?

 

Any allegation triggers a duty to investigate, suspend the staff member during the investigation, call ofsted, early years team etc. ....

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Yes it does but by having good safe gaurding policy and a stringent check when employing, having safe guarding as an agenda item on staff meetings and being aware at all times

 

i hate to say this but if a person is hell bent on getting to children they will but by having the above in place is reaasurance

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Can I just play devil's advocate for a moment? :o

 

We are fortunate that our loos are just outside the main playroom and therefore this is not a major issue for us but it is something that we have considered even so as you also need to recognise staff vulnerability and build in an element of staff protection too.

 

Knowing how Safeguarding and child protection is such a hot potato always what would you do if a child returned from the toilet and made an allegation (of any type) against the lone member of staff that took him/her?

 

Any allegation triggers a duty to investigate, suspend the staff member during the investigation, call ofsted, early years team etc. ....

 

 

Would it not be the case that even if 2 staff attended and a child made an allegation, you would then have to suspend 2 staff members during the investigation, and still have to call ofsted, early years team etc. ....?

 

Also trying to keep things in perspective, the recent despicable cases were bought to light from home computers etc, and not through disclosures (allegations) being made in the nursery. What are the risks of having a child make an allegation against staff? Compare this to the risk of damage to childrens emotional wellbeing if their care needs are always managed with a sense of fear from their caregivers. How realistic is it to have these fears?

 

Peggy

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Can I just play devil's advocate for a moment? :o

 

We are fortunate that our loos are just outside the main playroom and therefore this is not a major issue for us but it is something that we have considered even so as you also need to recognise staff vulnerability and build in an element of staff protection too.

 

Knowing how Safeguarding and child protection is such a hot potato always what would you do if a child returned from the toilet and made an allegation (of any type) against the lone member of staff that took him/her?

 

Any allegation triggers a duty to investigate, suspend the staff member during the investigation, call ofsted, early years team etc. ....

 

Hence my question about being a member of a union too!

Plus the media are reporting on another case of a nursery worker in Leeds. A nursery in Nottingham where I am has been closed and numerous staff questioned and arrested. There eem to be lot of publicity about this at the moment.

Edited by marley
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