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How I am improving the lives of older people with incontinence

In East Staffordshire the Community Continence Service and Specialist Learning Disability Nurse are working together in care homes, residential homes and learning disability homes to ensure residents get the right support for continence issues and avoid unnecessary complications and trips to hospital. Brian Kinsella is Clinical Lead and Clinical Nurse Continence Specialist in East Staffordshire. Over the last 18 months, Brian and Learning Disability Nurse Steph Brinklow, have been visiting care and assisted living homes together, educating staff about continence issues and helping to change the lives of people they care for.

Incontinence has a huge impact on people’s lives. It causes isolation, sometimes pain and can often mean people are treated with a lack of dignity. My role is to work with care home staff to improve life for residents who have incontinence.

In our office, Learning Disability Nurse Steph Brinklow sits across the desk from me. We realised that by combining both my contacts and hers we would reach people we hadn’t been able to previously. So, we decided to make a change and work together. For one day each week, for 26 weeks, we visited care homes and assisted living homes, educating staff about incontinence and factors that exacerbate it, such as certain foods and drinks.

Sometimes it would be tricky, particularly in assisted living homes where the residents would be encouraged to be independent. But their food and drink choices could often be the thing that was causing, or exacerbating their incontinence. We had to show that locking some cupboards was actually helping them, rather than being a deprivation of liberty.

We also work with residents’ families, carers and other allied health professionals such as nutritionists to find the best course of action for each resident.

As part of the training we promoted the 8 to Hydrate campaign, showing how easy it is to become dehydrated. We put up posters in all the homes and, each summer, we send a mailshot to every care home as a reminder.

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