Nov 20, 2017

Incontinence: Fundamentally, It’s About Dignity, say Aged Care Minister

Incontinence is a condition that affects more than 4.8 million Australians and is associated with a number of health challenges.

Not only can it profoundly affect an individual’s quality of life, but it can also impact those around them.

Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder (urinary incontinence) or bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel (faecal or bowel incontinence).

Incontinence can be caused by a number of issues, and is often a complication arising from other chronic conditions.

As people age, the likelihood of having incontinence increases. In fact, it’s estimated that at least 70 per cent of people in residential aged care have incontinence.

Incontinence, a physically challenging condition, can also have psychological effects on a person. Many older people fear suffering an incontinent episode, and as a result struggle with social isolation when they stop going out.

Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, spoke at the National Conference on Incontinence last week.

He said that incontinence is an important issue because “fundamentally, it’s about dignity”.

“The Government recognises this and, I’m proud to say, we are also committed to providing support that can help change the lives of people with incontinence.”

“This is why our commitment to the National Continence Program is unshakable — providing funding of nearly $4 million per year from 2016-17 to 2019-20.”

“In 2001 the Government launched the National Public Toilet Map website which shows the location of over 16,000 facilities available to the public across Australia.”

The National Public Toilet Map is one of the most visited Commonwealth websites and has in the past 12 months had over 800,000 visitors, with the iPhone app now downloaded by 1.5 million people.

“It is equally important that we talk about providing care that preserves the dignity of our Senior Australians. I’m talking about care that focuses on the best and most dignified way to manage incontinence — not just the fastest.”

“As the Minister for Aged Care, I know that incontinence is a significant issue among our frail elderly.”

“In fact, falls prevention and personal hygiene — both major factors in managing incontinence — were the second and third most common types of complaints made to the Aged Care Commissioner in the last financial year.”

There are a number of researches that found a link between incontinence and falls – one 2012 UK study also found that the higher the degree of incontinence, the greater the risk of falls.

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare cites research that indicates that people will make extraordinary efforts to avoid an incontinent episode — including taking chances that place them at a higher risk of falls.

“I firmly believe that the measure of a good society is how we treat and support our most vulnerable citizens, particularly our seniors.”

“Dignity, compassion and respect are important to everyone, particularly for those of us living with and managing this condition.”

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  1. I think the maps for available toilets is a good idea. But a greater crisis is restricting numbers of continence pads used by clients in nursing homes. This is referring to the 75% rule. where carers gauge how wet the pads are. ???? Aren’t the pads part of the provision of care packages? I really am worried that people are being left wet and lying in there own faeces until they’re due for their next pad. Unbelievable. More staff needed? Too busy to provide basic care? What is the answer. Toilet maps only address a small percentage of continence sufferers.

    1. Carol, I was blown away during my time in residential aged care that there is a quota on incontinence pads. Everything you said is so true. We need more skilled staff, more time for the residents and more incontinence pads. Imagine a woman today who is menstruating told there are not enough tampons or pads to go around? How would that feel? It’s the same with incontinence pads.

  2. I have had Urinary Incontinence for about 10 years . I wear the incontinence knickers and Pads 24 hours a day…Everyday. Every thing i drink goes in one end and almost out the other. In the summer time i have a bit more control but i have to be careful to drink more fluids so i don’t dehydrate, as i Perspire profusely even though i still have the incontinence problem The new i problem that is bothering me for about a year now is my.. Bowels .. they seem to be going the same way as my Bladder … I try not to eat too much.. breakfast cereal 3 wheatbix and milk and sugar serves as breakfast and lunch and a cup of Tea… because i eat that closer to lunch time than breakfast … A afternoon snack of biscuits and coffee…. and for Dinner a frozen ready made meal .. microwaved.. they consist of potatoes 2 other vegetables and meat Some have chicken others have beef or lamb …and gravy…and after a small slice of cake and instant coffee with milk …. A Few hours later i am back in the toilet again I have lost so much weight over the last year even though i have not been able really eat more as of then when i used to be nearly 10 stone… to now 8 stone sometimes it dips down 2/3 pounds under that…. You mentioned early Dementia being associated with eating problems … I do get a bit muddle minded some times but i put it down to the Stress of my Bladder and Bowl Problems … I am 68 yrs old and live alone and my only companion is my little dog … and family and friends on Facebook…

  3. Hi, Have rang up the incontinence Clinic at Werribee Hospital, in regards to seeing a incontinence nurse for my mum.
    Told will take about 3 months for an appointment……rang end of October…..and into February, and they will ring when one available…..
    Meanwhile trying several types of pads for mum, supposedly hold about 2 litres, but mum needs to change twice thru the night and each time they leak, occasionally now three time a night, she voids a lot overnight!!
    That why we need advice re pads etc ASAP…

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