Standards of conduct, performance and ethics

‘When I’m on a placement should I help with toileting?’ 


Helen Harte CSP professional adviser on standards of conduct, performance and ethics

In a word, Yes. 

We are sometimes asked by student physiotherapists on ward-based placements if it is part of their role to help and support patients with toileting. That means helping someone get to the bathroom or cleaning up after an accident. Traditionally seen as a part of a nurse’s role, it’s not a nice thing to have to do but, as part of our commitment to protecting a person’s dignity, it’s essential we roll up our proverbial sleeves and get stuck in. And nothing will set you off on a better footing on the ward than developing good working relationships with your nursing colleagues.

You may, quite rightly, have concerns that you haven’t been trained to do this and so I would suggest you ask your educator if you can spend a few hours with your nursing colleagues learning how to support dignity and maintain good infection control practices as part of your ward induction, and the local policies around barrier nursing. Remember though, it’s always important to consider your risk assessment, just as you would for any other therapeutic activity. 

Standard 1 of the Health and Care Professions Council Standards of Conduct, Performance and Ethics are clear that we must act to treat service users with respect, this includes respecting and maintaining their dignity. When we are working on the ward we are part of a team whose members work together to support patients. That means we should act to support our nursing colleagues. 

If we find a patient has soiled their bed, it is not only important that we step in and support their dignity, but we must act to maintain their skin integrity as well. It’s okay to ask for help, but it is not okay to just hand it over and walk away. Always be respectful. 

Supporting someone to walk to the bathroom to toilet themselves following illness or injury would certainly constitute good rehabilitation. 

More information:

HCPC: Standards of conduct, performance and ethics 

  • Helen Harte is a CSP professional adviser

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