Why it matters
Battling a wetting or soiling problem can ruin a young person’s life. Living in constant fear of the next accident, particularly if it happens at school or with friends.
Many affected children struggle with anxiety, depression and low self-esteem. Cruel name calling and bullying are commonplace, and many young people feel isolated and alone.
Because of their condition, children and young people miss out on school trips, sports days and sleepovers. Many struggle with their education, missing school because of their health issues. In some cases, children are being pulled out of school to be home-schooled because of a lack of available support in schools.
“I dreaded going to school and was always thinking about when the next soiling incident would happen. Some of the teachers were ok if I needed to go to the toilet in a lesson. Others made a fuss, and it was so embarrassing. I kept my distance from other kids at break and lunch time as I was always worried about the smell. But having no one to hang out with was so lonely. I hated my life.” Freya, 14.
Even before the arrival of Covid-19, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues amongst young people were at an all-time high.
In summer 2019, 318 parents/carers responded to an ERIC survey looking at the impact of bladder and bowel conditions on families. They told us that 14% of children missed more than a month of school due to their bladder or bowel condition.
And the impact is felt across families. 74% of parents/carers who responded to the above survey lost time off work, with 13.5% reporting they had taken off more than 20 days. A childhood continence problem affects the whole family, and for some, the strain can bring them close to breaking point.
The financial burden of nappies and continence pads, constant cycle of washing clothes and replacing soiled ones can put an added burden and the emotional toll on those families whose day to day lives are restricted by trying to cope with a medical condition that they feel they can’t talk about.
“Before the day has started my daughter wakes up, knowing that she’s wet the bed and that it smells. We must dig deep to remain patient and understanding. She needs to be reminded that we don’t blame her in any way and we’re not angry with her. Sometimes after I’ve loaded the washing machine with sheets and duvet covers for the tenth time of the week I feel like crying - not for me, for her, because she has to bear this struggle.” Julie.