Go to top of page

Supporting children and students with continence care needs

This page outlines how education staff, care services, parents, guardians, and health professionals work together to manage a child or student with continence and dehydration care needs in education and care settings.

About continence and dehydration care needs

Continence is the ability to control your bladder and bowel. Incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder and bowel control.

Learn more about continence including:

  • types of incontinence
  • high risk groups for incontinence
  • prevention strategies.

Health support plans and agreements

If the child or student has continence and dehydration needs, the education or care service should refer to health support planning for children and students in education and care settings to ensure that the appropriate plans and agreements are in place. This is in addition to the continence and dehydration care-specific plans and agreements listed on this page. 

Care plans 

Parent or caregivers should complete the following care plans with their child’s health professional and return it to their school, preschool or care provider. 

A care plan is not needed for a child in childcare services unless they have a special need related to their incontinence. 

Education and care staff must complete a continence management log – HSP 235 (DOC 170KB) to document and communicate a daily record of continence management for children and young people needing continence support.

Additional care plans

Continence management in schools, preschools and care services

Education or care services must enable all children and young people to participate in and benefit from their educational experience. 

Allocating resources

Education and care services must allocate appropriately trained staff that are able to provide the required level of support and supervision. This may include an SSO who can either undertake the continence support or observe the class while the teacher assists the child. 

See student toileting allowance (staff login required) for further information about staff allowances and eligibility for toileting allowance.

Special schools and units

Special schools and units often have a large proportion of children and young people needing continence support. These services may choose to develop a continence care policy detailing:

  • management of support roles and responsibilities, including a standard of 3 changes per day
  • provision of aids and equipment
  • safe work practices.

Where a child in a special school or unit has different support needs to the policy they will need a continence care plan and health support agreement – HSP120 (DOC 131KB).

Children who soil rarely and unexpectedly

When a child who is usually continent has an accident an education or care staff member must be available to assist. This is treated as standard first aid.  

Changing a child

Education and care services must:

  • be able to change children and young people discreetly and hygienically in line with their training
  • have an appropriate space and equipment to follow the agreed care plan and support agreement
  • keep a change of clothes and bathroom items.

For example, a service may need a space where a child can be changed with privacy and dignity including washing, access to a change of clothes and storage for soiled clothing. 

Toilet training

Enrolment in preschool cannot be refused if a child is not toilet trained. Many preschool children are not developmentally ready to be continent. 

The nature of support needed should be discussed at the time of enrolment. This may determine the requirement for a continence care plan and toileting care and learning plan completed by a health professional.  

Emergency care and first aid procedures 

All education and care staff must provide first aid measures following any care plan or support agreement, and contact emergency services if required.

An individual first aid plan – HSP124 (DOC 167KB) should be completed by a health professional where the first aid response is not the standard first aid response for continence and dehydration needs.

Training for education and care staff 

All education and care services should have at least one trained support worker with personal care support in their job description.  

If there is no trained support worker the service leader can: 

  • employ someone else
  • engage an outside service provider
  • allow a teacher to do this work
  • undertake the work themselves.

Staff supporting children with continence needs should be trained to the specific requirements documented in the care plan and support agreements for that child.

Continence support training

The Royal District Nursing Service (RDNS) provide basic continence support training. For enquiries phone 1300 364 264 or email bookings.disabilities [at] rdns.org.au.

Novita may be able to provide training or consultancy to support children needing continence support. For enquiries phone 1300 668 482 or email training [at] novita.org.au

The Continence Resource Centre (CRC) is a state-wide continence information and advisory service. For enquiries phone 1300 885 886 or email continence [at] sa.gov.au

The Health Objective provide continence training to education and care services. For further enquiries phone Allison Willis on 0409 674 367 or email healthobjective [at] westnet.com.au

How parents and guardians can help

Parents or guardians must:

  • notify the school, preschool or care service if their child has continence and dehydration needs
  • complete health care plans and agreements with their health care professionals and provide them to the school, preschool or care service
  • provide required medication to the school, preschool or care service
  • provide items needed to support their child with continence needs including a change of clothes, nappies and wipes. 

If a medication agreement is in place, parents and caregivers must fulfil the roles and responsibilities outlined on the medication management and care page.

How health professionals help

Health professionals can help develop the care plan and any supporting medication and care agreements.

Disability and Complex Needs Team

Phone: 8226 0515
Email: education.health [at] sa.gov.au