In later life, bowel and bladder problems do become more likely, but they are absolutely not inevitable. For care home residents who are experiencing bowel or bladder incontinence, person-centred continence care is crucial in order to provide them with the most appropriate level of care, because as care home staff know, one size does not fit all when it comes to caring for incontinence.
Person-centred continence care is important because it is premised on a complete understanding of the individual and the causes of their incontinence, rather than the end treatment. Care homes that have adapted a person-centred approach to continence care, such as the award-winning Carlingwark House in Dumfries and Galloway, have seen outstanding levels of success through changing the culture of continence care in their care home in quite simple ways.
So how can other care homes follow their lead, and work to provide comfortable, supportive and person-centred solutions in continence care for their residents?
The foundations of person-centred continence care are built upon an understanding of the causes of incontinence in an individual. In the case of Carlingwark House, staff found that most of their residents who had continence problems did not have physical continence problems – therefore they needed to look at other factors that were causing these issues.
They conducted in-depth, ongoing and meaningful continence assessments for their residents which looked at everything from the medications they were taking to their life history, current lifestyle and personality. All of this helped to establish their needs, as well as physical issues which may have led to the incontinence.
The care environment needs to be considered as a factor in continence care. Everything from living facilities to the continence care equipment provided needs to be assessed, as well as the impact of potential barriers to accessing toilet facilities, including the requirement for additions such as dementia-friendly signage and raised toilet seats. This is especially important to consider as the links between dementia and incontinence are well-known.
Then there are the emotional factors involved – including how care staff can ease the embarrassment of incontinence and help maintain individuals’ dignity by using the right products to manage the condition properly.
Adopting a person-centred approach to continence care led to an overall reduction in the number of continence care products used in Carlingwark House, not to mention an award for the ‘Best Dementia Continence Care’ at the National Dementia Awards 2013 in recognition of their work.
Carlingwark House worked closely with the NHS Continence Advisory Service in order to develop their continence care programme, and they cited the importance of having a strong advocate for their work.
A person-centred approach to continence care means taking each person's needs seriously. In other words, rather than attempting to provide a comprehensive approach to continence care that covers every person within your care home, you must look at the individual requirements that each resident has, and ensure you have the ideal solution available for them and the products and equipment to implement it.
Would you consider introducing a person-centred continence care approach in your care home, or have you already done so? We would love to hear about your success. Leave us a comment below or send us a tweet @CareShopBunzl to share your story.