Physical Contact and Intimate Care


This procedure applies to children placed with foster carers managed by the authority, but the principles apply to the placement of all looked after children. Therefore, where children are placed with parents, relatives or friends or in placements not managed by the authority, the social worker must ensure these or other adequate procedures are applied

1. General

Suitable arrangements should exist in all foster homes for matters relating to physical contact, intimate care, menstruation, enuresis, encopresis and other aspects of children's personal care.

These arrangements should be set out in the foster carer's own Safe Care Policy or the Placement Plan for individual children.

In the absence of such arrangements, the following must be adhered to.

2. Physical Contact

Foster carers must provide a level of care, including physical contact to demonstrate warmth, friendliness and positive regard for children.

Physical contact should be given in a way that is safe, protective and avoids the arousal of sexual expectations, feelings or the reinforcing of sexual stereotypes.

Whilst foster carers are actively encouraged to play with children, it is not acceptable to play fight or participate in overtly physical games or tests of strength with the children.

3. Intimate Care

Children must be supported and encouraged, depending on their age, to undertake bathing, showers and other intimate care of themselves wherever possible without relying on foster carers.

Such arrangements must protect and promote the child's dignity and right to be consulted and involved.  Where necessary, foster carers will be provided with specialist training and support.

Unless otherwise agreed, where a child requires intimate care, it will be provided by foster carers of the same gender as the child.

4. Menstruation

Young women should be supported and encouraged to keep their own supply of sanitary protection without having to request it from foster carers.

There should also be adequate provision for the private disposal of used sanitary protection.

5. Enuresis and Encopresis

If it is known or suspected that a child is likely to experience enuresis (bed wetting), encopresis (soiling) or may be prone to smearing it should be discussed openly with the child, if possible, and strategies adopted for managing it.

These strategies should be outlined in the child's Placement Plan.

It may be appropriate to consult a continence nurse or other specialist, who may advise on the most appropriate strategy to adopt.  In the absence of such advice, the following should be adopted:

  1. Talk to the child in private, openly but sympathetically;
  2. Do not treat it as the fault of the child, or apply any form of sanction;
  3. Do not require the child to clear up; arrange for the child to be cleaned and then remove and wash any soiled bedding and clothes;
  4. Keep a record, either on a dedicated form or in the child's Daily Record with detail, if necessary, in a Detail Record;
  5. Consider making arrangements for the child to have any supper in good time before retiring, and arrange for the child to use the toilet before retiring; also consider arranging for the child to be woken to use the toilet during the night;
  6. Consider using mattresses or bedding that can withstand being soiled or made wet.