The stigma and assumptions that are made in relation to older people and people living with dementia mean that incontinence is often accepted as an inevitable aspect of ageing.
To fully understand what is meant by incontinence, we need to start at the very beginning…
What do we mean by the term incontinence?
‘Incontinence is a loss of bladder or bowel control leading to the involuntary or inappropriate passing of urine and/or faeces’. (Department of Health, Good practice in continence services, 2000 cited in Expert group on LUTS 2014, p6).
It is recognised that the first step to improving continence care outcomes is to start viewing continence as the ‘norm’, instead of emphasising incontinence through the routine use of absorbent pads or urinary catheters or other product types. The focus should always be on ‘cure’ but where ‘cure’ is not possible, there must be a culture of promoting continence rather than an over reliance on use of products
It is widely recognised that actively promoting continence can reduce the incidence of associated harm. For example; reducing the number of falls; reducing the incidence of moisture lesions as well as reducing the likelihood of constipation.
It is also acknowledged that where planned approaches are in place to support people to access the toilet, it can significantly improve the overall health and well-being of the individual.
Promoting continence is everybody’s business and supports overall bowel and bladder health.
It is important that care service staff are able to demonstrate and evidence good continence care knowledge that is supported by up to date policies and procedures that take account of relevant best practice and Scottish legislation.