The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

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Chaperoning and related issues

You have a duty to respect the dignity and sensibilities of your patients, as well as having your own right to work in a safe environment. By its very nature, physiotherapy is a ‘touching’ profession often with patients in a state of undress.

It is important that appropriate standards of professional behaviour are provided at all times, in order to ensure that your patients feel comfortable during treatment, and that you are able to perform a thorough and appropriate examination and assessment.

It is important that you understand when a chaperone may be required even if your patient does not request one, as well as the roles and responsibilities of chaperones.

You must also be clear on the importance of your patients fully understanding the nature and purpose of physiotherapy, as well as what is planned during treatment.

Complaints from patients about ‘inappropriate touching’ are distressing and in many cases may be avoided by considering using a chaperone.

If a patient makes a complaint to the police about alleged ‘inappropriate touching’ or examination during physiotherapy, this is dealt with under the criminal law. Defence of criminal allegations is not covered by the main CSP PLI scheme and you may want additional criminal prosecution defence cover which is available from Graybrooks.

About this paper

This guidance paper aims to provide a unified source of professional practice and employment relations advice to members in providing appropriate chaperoning services to patients.

This guidance on the use of chaperones applies to any professional context, where treatment is provided by CSP members of any gender, involving;

‘Intimate’ examinations defined as:

  • Any invasive examination which involves the pelvic floor complex ( vaginal and/or ano-rectal areas)
  • Any examination involving the genitalia or breasts

‘Close’ examinations defined as:

  • Examinations and/or interventions that may involve close bodily contact between patient and therapist, especially where the patient may be partially undressed.
  • Examinations and/or interventions that may involve therapist handling of the patient close to intimate areas, the lumbo-sacral areas, and thoracic areas of female patients, especially where the patient may be partially undressed.
  • Examinations involving complete removal of a patient’s outer clothing down to underwear
  • Examinations involving the partial undoing or total removal of a patient’s underwear e.g. bras
  • Any examination where the patient has requested a chaperone to be present.

 

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