Intimate Care Policy and Guidelines Regarding Children

Southern Area Child Protection Committee


The Intimate Care Policy and Guidelines Regarding Children have been developed to safeguard children and staff.  They apply to everyone involved in the intimate care of children.

Disabled children can be especially vulnerable.  Staff involved with their intimate care need to be sensitive to their individual needs.  The Intimate Care Policy and Guidelines should be read in conjunction with the Southern Area Child Protection Committee Revised Disabled Children’s Policy and Procedures, June 2001. 


Intimate care may be defined as any activity required to meet the personal care needs of each individual child (in partnership with the parents / carers and child). 

Intimate care can include:

Parents / carers have a responsibility to advise staff of the intimate care needs of their child.


The following are the fundamental Principles of Intimate Care upon which the Policy and Guidelines are based:



All children have the right to be safe and to be treated with dignity and respect.  These guidelines are designed to safeguard children and staff.

They apply to every member of staff involved with the intimate care of children.

Disabled children can be especially vulnerable.  Staff involved with their intimate care need to be sensitive to their individual needs.  

Staff also need to be aware that some adults may use intimate care, as an opportunity to abuse children.  It is important to bear in mind that some care tasks / treatments can be open to misinterpretation.  Adhering to these guidelines of good practice should safeguard children and staff.

5.1    Involve the child in their intimate care

Try to encourage a child’s independence as far as possible in his / her intimate care.  Where the child is fully dependent talk with them about what is going to be done and give them choice where possible. Check your practice by asking the child / parent any likes / dislikes while carrying out intimate care and obtain consent.

5.2    Treat every child with dignity and respect and ensure privacy appropriate to the child’s age and situation.

A lot of care is carried out by one staff member / carer alone with one child.  The practice of providing one-one intimate care of a child alone is supported, unless the activity requires two persons for the greater comfort / safety of the child or the child prefers two persons.

5.3    Make sure practice in intimate care is consistent

As a child can have multiple carers a consistent approach to care is essential.  Effective communication between parents / carers / agencies ensures practice is consistent.

5.4    Be aware of own limitations

Care activities you understand and feel competent and confident to carry out.  If in doubt ASK.  Some procedures must only be carried out by staff who have been formally trained and assessed e.g. enteral feeding, rectal diazepam.

5.5    Promote positive self-esteem and body image.

Confident, self-assured children who feel their body belongs to them are less vulnerable to sexual abuse.  The approach you take to intimate care can convey lots of messages to a child about their body worth.  Your attitude to a child’s intimate care is important.  Keeping in mind the child’s age, routine care can be relaxed, enjoyable and fun.

5.6    If you have any concerns you must report them. 

If you observe any unusual markings, discolourations or swelling including the genital area, report immediately to your designated manager / teacher.

If during the intimate care of a child you accidentally hurt them, or the child appears to be sexually aroused by your actions, or misunderstands or misinterprets something, reassure the child, ensure their safety and report the incident immediately to your designated manager / teacher.

Report and record any unusual emotional or behavioural response by the child. 

A written record of concerns must be made and kept in the child’s nursing / medical notes / personal file.

It is important to follow your Agency’s reporting and recording procedures.  

Parents / carers must be informed about concerns. 

Please refer to:

Southern Education and Library Board Child Protection Policy – August 2000

Pastoral Care In Schools Child Protection, DENI


6.1    Principles: 

6.2    General Care

Male and Female staff can be involved with children of either sex in: 

6.3    Intimate Care

Wherever possible, boys and girls should be offered the choice of carer and second carer.  Where there is any doubt that a child is able to make an informed choice on these issues, the child’s parents are usually in the best position to act as advocates.

It may be possible to determine a child’s wishes by observation of their reactions to the intimate care they receive.  Do not assume that a child cannot make a choice. 

The intimate care of boys / girls can be carried out by a member of staff of the opposite sex with the following provisions:


It is the responsibility of all staff caring for a child to ensure that they are aware of the child’s method and level of communication.

Children communicate using different methods e.g. words, signs, symbols, body movements, eye pointing.

To ensure effective communication:

Appendix 1

Communication Proforma for Intimate Care

How I Communicate

Name: _______________________________________

Date: _________________

I communicate using words / signs / communication book / communication aid / body movements.

I indicate my likes / preferences by ________________

I indicate my dislikes by _________________________

I show I am happy by ___________________________ 

and unhappy by ________________________________

If appropriate please complete the following

When I need to go to the toilet I _____________________

When I need changed I __________________________

Additional information ___________________________


Speech and Language Therapist __________________

Contact Number ________________________________

Parent / carer signature __________________________