Need opinions from school nurse on student hygiene issues

  1. Hello, I've already tried this once but don't see that it went through so will try again. Can you tell this is the first time I've used this site? I am a school nurse working in southeast Washington state in 7 rural districts, from a 9 student district to 950 student district. My question: How do you deal with severe hygiene issues and what has been successful for you? There is a family in one district (2 brothers, 1 sister) who had moved to another district due to this problem and have now moved back. The teachers have all approached me about their severe body odor and the fact that it is getting warmer and warmer now that spring is here. All the teachers have spoken to the parents, the previous school nurse was able to do a home visit last year (lots of animals in the home, cats & kittens), the superintendent/elementary principal has spoken to the family as a whole and I have taught the growth & development classes to all 3 students with emphasis on personal hygiene with no success. I was also approached by the teacher in the little 9 student district about a student with severe body odor. This teacher has noticed that it might be just the normal home environment because grandma smells the same when she comes to the school. This student's clothes are always neat, clean and well kept. How do you approach this problem when it's not something that is within the student's control? Any ideas? Legal issues?
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  2. 3 Comments

  3. by   SchoolNurseLisa
    I have had the same problem in my school.(700, elementry). My school has a social worker and she is a great. She does home visits, talks with parents and hotlines if she needs too. I work more on the children themselves. I have found that it is best just to be frank with the kids. I don't sugar coat it. If they smell bad, I tell them they do, clean them up and find out why they smell bad. I ask them, if they need soap, deoderant, shampoo, ect... I have a 6 year old who would wear the same outfit for 2-3 days and she would wet the bed at night and get up and come to school. The social worker couldn't get anywhere with mom, and DFS would not so I started working on the kid. I told her she had to shower every night, and sleep in PJ's. It has worked fairly well. She still wears dirty clothes alot, but at least they do not smell too bad. Each day she is dressed clean and smells clean I give her candy. I do have one kid who comes in and has an odd smell. The home visit proved that the whole house smelled that way. That I am not sure what to do with.
    Quote from ELC
    Hello, I've already tried this once but don't see that it went through so will try again. Can you tell this is the first time I've used this site? I am a school nurse working in southeast Washington state in 7 rural districts, from a 9 student district to 950 student district. My question: How do you deal with severe hygiene issues and what has been successful for you? There is a family in one district (2 brothers, 1 sister) who had moved to another Idistrict due to this problem and have now moved back. The teachers have all approached me about their severe body odor and the fact that it is getting warmer and warmer now that spring is here. All the teachers have spoken to the parents, the previous school nurse was able to do a home visit last year (lots of animals in the home, cats & kittens), the superintendent/elementary principal has spoken to the family as a whole and I have taught the growth & development classes to all 3 students with emphasis on personal hygiene with no success. I was also approached by the teacher in the little 9 student district about a student with severe body odor. This teacher has noticed that it might be just the normal home environment because grandma smells the same when she comes to the school. This student's clothes are always neat, clean and well kept. How do you approach this problem when it's not something that is within the student's control? Any ideas? Legal issues?
  4. by   ELC
    This has been an ongoing issue between the two school districts they have attended. I know that staff at each school has tried to work with these students, I just don't think that mom really believes there is a problem and when the previous school nurse did a home visit it was obvious that housekeeping was poor. I guess the most frustrating thing is the fact that staff from all areas, secretaries, principals, teachers, PE teachers, have all been talking to these kids on a regular basis and can't seem to get the message across. The children, as I said, become extremely defensive, when spoken to. The principal is going to also try to approach them from a community standpoint-they are all members of the same church, attend the same community functions, and the principal's wife is also the parish nurse. So hopefully between all of us something positive will happen. I am only in this district once a week, so a lot of this falls to other staff. They have a part-time counselor as well, and she has been working with this as time allows. Thanks for the idea for a reward for coming to school clean. I'm not sure how this will work for these kids, 4th grade & older, but a good idea. Also just found out that mom in now doing her para-pro internship at the elementary school where 2 of the kids are. Maybe seeing students from this perspective will help her understand, and I expect the teachers will be honest with her as she works in the school. Thanks, ELC
  5. by   katscan
    With my junior high, I gather the student(s) that need instruction and some who don't and have a "mini class" on hygiene during which I go over the needed info. The students are then asked to judge my class content, ability to understand the info, etc. I want their opinions about how the class will go over with their peers, in their opinion. I present the info and give them opportunities to ask questions. I even ask "review questions" of them verbally to see how much they have retained. Finally,I give a gift of deodorant, tooth brushes or soap depending on the need. I thank them for their input. After all, numerous ad agencies gather info this way and it really works. I am hesitant to confront a student boldly, unless I REALLY have to. No one like to be told they stink-especially if they have no control.
    Other times, I have called the parent and stated that I-or the teacher-has noticed an odor about their child. As this may be a medical problem, I suggest a physical. Anyway, it alerts the mother to the problem. Sometimes she will volunteer info such as "she wets the bed" etc, and them I can use that teachable moment to ask HER questions about clothing, washing etc.
    If the child is getting teased, I call for the mother's help in stopping the teasing. I do not want her child to have to go through being "different". This helps elicit info also-especially if the mother works, and the child SAYS she is bathing or changing her soiled clothing, but is not really doing it.

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