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Continence specialists have the opportunity to inspire services

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Sharon Eustice, who steps down as chair of the Association for Continence Advice at their annual conference next week, looks at the challenges facing continence services

These are exciting yet challenging times for continence services, given the thrust and aim of the Department of Health’s (2009)Transforming Community Services guidance. It sets out a range of initiatives, such as training in clinical skills and leadership, which are designed to increase quality of care. The guidance highlights the vital role nurses and therapists play in the delivery of high-quality services. But with the restructuring of services high on the agenda, influencing their future delivery requires involvement and an understanding of the latest policies.

At the same time, continence care has been identified as one of three high-volume work areas, along with wound care and stroke care, that will be highlighted as part of the Productive Community Hospital programme organised by the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement. The programme aims to produce evidence-based pathways that will improve quality and patient outcomes. This is good for continence specialists, who can now grasp the opportunity to inspire service improvements and policy direction.

Over the years, the Association for Continence Advice has been getting smarter at what it does. For example, its website and newsletter are testimony to the dedication of all those who have invested in building a better infrastructure. Building networks and collaborating with like-minded organisations is important in today’s economic climate, and a joint educational event with UKCS (UK Continence Society) last month illustrated this principle and emphasised the need to work in partnership during these challenging times.

In supporting continence specialists, I am delighted that the ACA has contributed to raising government awareness of incontinence. For example, it was integral to the launch in January this year of the All Party Parliamentary Group on continence, chaired by Baroness Greengross.

Part of the ACA business plan is to position itself on the political radar. For example, it has recently contributed to the Care Quality Commission consultation and requested a special review of continence services.
I believe there is no better time for continence services and its leaders to link into the strategic goals of organisations with vigour and enthusiasm.

Sharon Eustice, MSc, DN Cert, Bphil, RN, is nurse consultant for continence, Cornwall & Isles of Scilly PCT

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