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.

About this paper

This guidance paper aims to provide a source of professional practice 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 sex and/or gender, involving;

‘Intimate’ examinations defined as:

  • Any invasive examination that 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

Chaperones in private practice

Chaperones are used to protect both the therapist and the patient. Where a chaperone may be of benefit to the patient, or the therapist would feel better protected having an additional person present, a risk assessment should be completed.

To be clear, there is no legal requirement to provide a chaperone. However, if you feel compromised, as a private practitioner you are able to not accept the referral or suggest an alternative service.