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6.8 Physical Contact

Last Modified: 04-May-2017 Review Date: 01-Jun-2019

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Legislation

Purpose

​​To provide guidance to residential care workers for meeting a child’s needs for physical contact in an appropriate and safe manner for all.

Practice Requirements

  • ​​​​Positive physical contact is important in assisting children in care to develop healthy attachments and/or relationships and support neurological development. This encourages the development of a safe and nurturing environment for children. 
  • All physical contact must age and developmentally safe and appropriate. 
  • Physical contact between children must be very closely monitored and the home’s expectations regarding physical contact should be regularly communicated. 
  • Residential care workers must be aware that some children may react negatively to physical contact due to their trauma. 
  • Some children may demonstrate inappropriate sexualised behaviours towards residential care workers and other children; residential care workers must observe their own reactions to this behaviour and report any concerns to their manager immediately. 
  • Residential care workers must not isolate a child in a room with the door shut when giving physical contact to a child. Where possible, all physical contact must be in open areas of the home. 
  • Any inappropriate physical contact must be logged. 
  • If residential care workers are concerned about the level of physical contact witnessed they must intervene and bring to the attention of the manager as soon as practical.​​

Procedures

  • Overview
  • Overview

    • ​​When determining what appropriate physical contact is, residential care workers must take into account the child’s age, stage of development and personal history. 
    • Appropriate options may include high fives, shoulder pats, cuddles (for younger children), side-to-side shoulder hugs (for older children), foot massages and head massages. It is important to assess the child’s reaction to physical contact to determine what they are comfortable with. 
    • If a child is demonstrating a pattern of inappropriate physical contact, the residential care team must develop consistent methods for dealing with the behaviour. The behaviour may need to be addressed when developing the child’s Residential Care Plan and/or Safety Plan
    • It is also important for residential care workers to teach the children about protecting themselves from unwanted physical contact. Residential care workers must support the child to use open communication to inform others about any physical contact that makes them feel unsafe or uncomfortable.​

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Related Resources

 ‭(Hidden)‬ Policies

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