Incontinence can be a distressing condition, but the person you care for is not alone. According to the NHS, one in four people will experience bladder incontinence at some point in their lives, whilst one in ten will have problems with bowel control.
Fortunately, help is out there. Modern incontinence products – from pants and inserts, to wet wipes and specialist skin care – can make life easier for you, and a lot more comfortable for your relative. Incontinence pants can be washable or disposable, and we have lots of clever ways to protect your beds and seating.
If your relative has regular visits from a nurse or home carer, it’s best to ask them for their recommended products, as familiar items can help to make changing quicker and easier. It’s also worth looking into whether there is an NHS continence service in your local area. Professional advice is the best way to find the right products for your loved one’s needs, particularly if they have specialist requirements such as living with dementia.
Comfort and hygiene will always be top of the list, but you should also consider mobility, ease of changing, the amount of leakage, and any skin problems in the area. Disposable pads and pants are usually more discreet than washables, but may not be suitable for heavy leakage. If your relative is mobile, net support can be an excellent option, as pads are held in place by a comfortable net pant, and flex belted briefs may also be suitable. All-in-one disposables are especially easy to use in a home setting, and can be an excellent choice for heavy urinary incontinence or double incontinence.
One way to assess the level of absorbency you need is to weigh dry and wet pads or pants. Since urine is mostly water, one ml weighs one gram. Compare these figures to the absorbency levels shown in our product descriptions.
You can find more guidance on the right products for different needs over on the independent Continence Product Advisor website. However, the biggest factor of all is personal preference. You may have to try several different incontinence products before finding the best match.
When changing or cleaning, always take your cue from the person you are caring for. A brisk ‘professional’ approach can be unsettling, and a more relaxed attitude may work better. If you’re caring for a loved one, this is where you’ll have an advantage over professional carers, as you will pick up cues that others might miss. For more information on tailoring continence care to individual needs, take a look at our article on person-centered continence care.
Maintaining hygiene is also important to protect yourself, family members and visitors, and the right products will save you time and effort. Disposable gloves are essential, and a sangenic bin is a wise investment. Dealing with accidents is always easier and safer when you have the right supplies on hand. These can include the same spill kits and odour neutralisers that are used in care homes.
Once you’ve selected the best products for your relative’s needs, it’s important to make sure you’re always stocked up with supplies. To make sure you’re never caught short, be sure to write a reminder on the calendar or set an alarm on your mobile phone to remind you to re-order regularly.