Continence is a problem for many people. As many as one in three people have difficulty controlling their flow of urine. Caring for someone who has incontinence problems or difficulties controlling their bowel or problems with bladder functions may have a significant emotional impact upon you as a carer.
It is quite common for people with mobility difficulties to have incidents of incontinence or leakage because it takes them longer to get to the toilet.
The person you’re looking after may feel embarrassed and will need emotional as well as physical and practical support to deal with issues such as personal hygiene, loss of confidence and perhaps skin irritation.
As their carer you may be involved in helping them to:
- get to the toilet
- use the toilet
- wash afterwards
If the person you’re looking after has incontinence or bladder and bowel difficulties, your GP can advise you on NHS services that may help in your caring role.
Both your GP and local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) can provide support, advice and information on this issue. The primary care team includes continence advisers or specialists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and dietitians.
The continence adviser may be able to provide many small items and other equipment that can help, including:
- plastic or PVC covers to protect beds
- disposable or washable continence pads
- waterproof pants
Your social services department should be able to provide small aids and adaptations for the home, including:
- hand rails
- raised toilet seats
For more information on what other services are available from your social services department, GP and CCG visit the care at home pages. For information about laundry services from your local council, see below.
There is also continence equipment that you can buy yourself. The Bladder and Bowel Foundation provides an independent directory of incontinence products. It also provides useful information and support for carers on a range of bladder and bowel-related problems, including incontinence.