A carer’s guide to managing incontinence

Incontinence problems are more common than many people realise. In the UK alone, over 3.2 million people aged over 65 suffer from urinary incontinence, while 6.5 million people of all ages are affected by a bowel disorder. Because incontinence can be a sensitive and potentially embarrassing problem, it is vital that carers have the knowledge and skills needed to provide discreet and effective assistance to sufferers. To help ensure you know the basics, take a look at this brief guide.

Make sure you have suitable supplies

In many cases, incontinence sufferers need to use some form of pad or special clothing. Disposable pads held in place by close-fitting underwear can suffice for some people, while for heavier incontinence, disposable pants or all-in-one pads featuring adhesive patches at the sides and plastic backing may be required. Sufferers may also need disposable or washable bed or chair protectors.

Also, to make the cleaning process quicker and easier, it’s useful to have a supply of continence care wipes. Infection control specialists such as Clinell Direct provide wipes that are alcohol and lanolin free and contain a pH neutral formula. By keeping the skin clean and dry using specially formulated wipes, you can help prevent incontinence dermatitis and pressure sores.

Reduce the risk of accidents

As well as getting the right supplies, it is important to reduce the risk of accidents occurring in the first place. To do this, it helps to keep an accurate patient diary detailing daily patterns of food and liquid intake, as well as bladder and bowel function. This should enable you to identify the most effective way to manage the incontinence.

People who can’t get to the toilet unaided may benefit from scheduled toileting, which simply means you take them to the toilet or bring them a commode every two to four hours. Your diary will help you to work out the best times to do this. Some individuals also benefit from prompted voiding. To do this, you ask the individual if they need the toilet or suggest that they go. Another approach is habit training, which involves observing the times when people tend to go to the toilet and taking them there at these points during the day.

In general, be positive about toilet use and praise people for being dry. Also, make sure you treat the individuals you care for with dignity and don’t show frustration if they have accidents. Incontinence can put strain on both sufferers and the people who look after them, but if you’re patient and you follow advice like this, you should be able to establish an effective routine.

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