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OPINION

'We continue to work hard to highlight childhood continence problems'

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In the aftermath of the NICE Guidelines, at ERIC, we have found ourselves with mixed views on the impact (of both sets) for families whose child or teenager has a continence issue.

On one hand, we are able to inform and communicate that there are NICE Guidelines; parents or responsible carers should be familiar with these in order to enable further discussions and treatments with their GP or health professional. However, disappointingly from our conversations with families, they seemed to know very little about the existence of the Guidelines and what impact these will have on how their child is dealt with. We hope that in time this will change.

ERIC continues to look for new ways to support more families: our telephone helpline - which ran between 10am and 4pm on weekdays - was extended in September 2011 so that we could provide support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have always provided an email and text service out of hours, but sometimes people just need a friendly, supportive voice to talk to straight away. We know it’s not easy for everyone to make calls during our core time and by extending the operating hours, we are ensuring families aren’t alone in their hour of need.

From now on, when the ERIC Helpline is closed - as part of a partnership with Family Lives - all calls will have an option to transfer to the Family Lives Helpline. Family Lives, like ERIC, operates a fully confidential helpline and have expertise in offering support to families.

Whilst not a replacement service for ERIC, the option to speak to somebody and be listened to is an important offer; the parent or responsible carer who is at the end of their tether on a Friday night cannot always wait for support until Monday morning. We are currently piloting this service and will review it’s operation after six months.

Furthermore, we are very excited to announce that next year ERIC will be joining up with the International Children’s Continence Society (ICCS) and British Association of Paediatric Urology (BAPU) to host an international childhood continence conference in the UK. This is the first time these three organisations have come together to showcase best practice from around the world. Delegates will have the opportunity to hear from a range of local and international speakers and plenty of networking opportunities will be built into the programme. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for UK health professionals to attend an ERIC/ICCS/BAPU joint conference.

The conference will open on 12 October 2012 and the first day will be hosted by ERIC. The ICCS and BAPU will host the conference on 13 and 14 October 2012. See the ERIC website for more information.

Recently, ERIC won the ‘Small Charity, Big Achiever’ award at the national Third Sector Excellence Awards, which showcase the best work being carried out by charities across the UK. The award recognised ERIC’s ‘Banish the Wee Horror’ campaign, which raised awareness of bedwetting, with judges commenting that we were making fantastic steps to engage the public in a subject which is difficult to talk about. We know there is still a long way to go, but to receive national recognition from within the sector is a fantastic achievement. We continue to work hard to highlight childhood continence problems with the help available and we are constantly on the lookout for families or health professionals to come forward to help us raise awareness.

As the way people access information and support changes and the presence and influence of social media increases, ERIC is keen to review and adapt and we are about to enter a stage of review. Fundraising is always a challenge for ERIC and we are grateful to those who do support us, as without it we couldn’t do the work we do. However, more funding would enable us to do more and reach more people; I feel it is an ongoing challenge.

Jenny Perez is director of ERIC.

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