The road to a Children’s Rectal Irrigation Pathway

By Michelle Henderson, National Nurse Manager

I recently caught up with Davina Richardson, Specialist Children’s Nurse at Bladder & Bowel UK, and Michelle Newton, Children’s Specialist Bladder and Bowel Nurse at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, to discuss the newly published National Children’s Rectal Irrigation Pathway. 

Michelle Newton first approached me at the close of 2022 and was instrumental in getting this project off the ground.  Michelle is a strong advocate for the benefits of using rectal irrigation. Indeed, she had been a key player in the development of paediatric rectal irrigation guidelines by the Northern Children’s Transanal Irrigation Group in 2021.This group had developed guidelines based on the adult version produced by the Professional Irrigation Group, 2018. Michelle aspired to create a nationally applicable resource for paediatric-focused healthcare professionals using rectal irrigation.

Michelle Newton comments:

“From being invited to an Adult meeting in November 2019 by Kath Dawson, the lone Children Bladder and Bowel Nurse in Durham, who had a vision to improve not only her service but also the northern region children’s services regarding irrigation. A group of children’s nurses who shared her vision were brought together by Kath with the connections from BRAUN to see if we could achieve this vision.

I was one of these nurses who shared Kath’s vision. We had seen so many children’s lives change when irrigation was introduced into their chronic constipation treatment, so we were all happy to offer our commitment to developing a best practice document.”

Working nationally, Davina could also see the benefits highlighted the necessity for this pathway, as paediatric clinicians have been using rectal irrigation for over a decade. Hear more about how the new pathway was developed and what is included in the document from Davina and Michelle Henderson below.

The pathway is a diverse tool suitable for those new to rectal irrigation and those who are more experienced. It helps to standardise the practice across the UK. It will be launching on the Bladder & Bowel UK website very soon.

Additionally, Davina and Michelle Newton will be presenting the pathway’s development at the Bladder & Bowel UK Professional Symposium in Bolton.

From Michelle Newton:

“To all the Children Bladder and Bowel Nurses who are lone workers or in a small team and feel you are a small voice but would like to make a difference in your specialist field. I hope this story has inspired you. It is achievable. Coming together as a group of like-minded people gives you the voice and resources to make a difference and change practices.”