While continence problems are a common problem in care homes, new and improved products can make life easier for both residents and carers…
As we get older our bodies succumb to all sorts of changes, not all of them pleasant, and for many people this may include incontinence. ‘None of us like to feel vulnerable or as if we’re not functioning as we would normally,’ says Jacinta Welland, a Carer in Leamington Spa. ‘Yet, incontinence is a major issue for many older people in care homes, affecting around 50% of residents.
There are all sorts of reasons people may become incontinent. Sometimes, it’s just a natural part of ageing, when pelvic muscles become weaker, making it more difficult to control bladder or bowel function. But, often the cause may be due to underlying conditions such as prostate problems, cancer, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease.
Proper continence management is crucial as this helps residents to maintain a sense of wellbeing, not just physically, but also emotionally.’
A large part of managing continence in care homes is to use the right products. Here are the top 5 features to bear in mind when choosing incontinence pads:
TOP 5 FEATURES OF CARE HOME INCONTINENCE PADS
- Check the maximum volume that a product can hold. This will be on the pack – eg: 600ml or 1500 ml. It’s better to choose pads that have a slightly higher capacity, so there is no leakage. Someone with total incontinence (where they have no bladder control) will need pads that absorb a higher volume of fluid than someone with stress incontinence (eg: where they only leak when they laugh, sneeze, cough or exert themselves).
- Make sure you get the size right, so that pads fit comfortably. This means you may need to take measurements first. It’s also a good idea to try a variety of pads in different sizes to ensure the right fit. Also, consider the shape. Does a pad fit snugly? Men and women have different shapes. So, it’s better to choose products that are specifically designed to suit the individual. Some people prefer disposable pads they can insert into their own underwear. Others may prefer to wear pull up incontinent pads (which include a pad). Pads tend to be better for people with limited mobility, as they’re easier and more convenient for a carer to change. Although, many pull up pants incorporate a simple, side release feature (where you just pull, or gently ‘rip’ the pants apart).
- Choose pads with a wetness indicator. This is basically a strip, or a line, on the pads that changes colour (eg: blue) indicating that the pad is getting full and needs to be changed. This will help to prevent any embarrassing leaks. Pads should be changed at least three times during the day, or as often as required. If someone is less mobile, it’s crucial care staff keep a check, so there is no discomfort.
- Choose pads made from comfortable, absorbent, breathable materials. Ideally, you’re looking for a pad that offers two layers of protection. So, that the top layer remains dry, while the bottom layer absorbs all the fluid. This will help to prevent skin irritation or infection (which may occur as a result of skin sitting in wet fluid). Choose pads with breathable backs, as this will help allow skin to breathe.
- Use day and night pads. Night pads are larger and more absorbent. These should fit securely to prevent leakages during the night. So, choosing the right size and shape is important.