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'I went from mild discomfort, to anxiety then panic as I held onto a full bladder'

  • Comments (3)

I was driving on the motorway a couple of days ago counting the miles to the next services and regretting the second cup of tea I had before I set off.

Predictably the traffic ground to a halt. As minutes passed I went from mild discomfort, to anxiety, then panic as I held onto a full bladder.

So why share this with you?

This week, the supreme court was asked to rule on a case in which 68-year-old Elaine McDonald, who had had a stroke, wanted the council to provide a night-time carer to help her use a commode rather than supply her with incontinence pads.

She lost her case.

Sadly this is not an isolated situation. Everyday, people in their own homes, care homes and hospital are required to use incontinence pads when they could be continent. They do this because of lack of time, lack of care or lack of knowledge on the part of those caring for them. This ruling is not the start of something new, but more worrying, it legitimises a system of care already in place.  

Being allowed to defecate and urinate in a dignified way is a basic human right. It is difficult to imagine what it is like to sit in bed and have to make a decision to pass urine into a pad, when you know you are continent.

Rationing of continence products is already common in England.

Many nurses involved in assessing continence are concerned that their ability to provide care is hampered by restrictions on resources. In parts of the country cuts to pad budgets mean patients may not get the number or type of product they need. They either do without or top up themselves. Many do not have the financial resources to do this.

Functional incontinence should be carefully managed to maintain patient dignity and promote independence. But in so many cases it is easy to ignore the problem because patients have no voice and no one to speak out for them. This is truly shameful.

If you have problems accessing appropriate continence care for your patients I would be interested to hear about your experiences.

  • Comments (3)

Readers' comments (3)

  • Just to make a short comment here. I found disgraceful to conveniently use incontinent pad rather than help a patient to use commode. That how patients develop pressure sores which add additional cost of care. In summary: lazy and shoddy care cost us all!

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  • Anonymous

    those making these decisions have no idea what they are talking about or the consequences of their actions. if they are not capable of making informed decisions then they should not be in the position to do so. encouraging continent individuals into these poor habits could have the dangerous consequences of them trying to get up themselves and sustaining injury (and apart from all the inconvenience, discomfort and suffering to them would cost the health services even more in terms of treatment and hospitalization). an individual may try and wait until morning or for their carer or some help and go into urinary retention with the risk of a urinary and eventual renal infection and damage. retention may require catheterisation with all its inherent risks of infection, trauma, etc. in a patient who would normally have been continent.
    this in addition to all the other problems mentioned above including that of dignity, physical and mental problems, skin breakdown, sores and infection, etc.
    surely this is against all human dignity and the rights of any individual and should not be allowed whatever the costs involved. every elderly patient deserves to be treated better than this especially when one considers what most have also in their turn contributed to our society. Is it suddenly becoming a society of takers but unwilling to give back anything in return.
    it is despicable and truly shocking that this should be allowed to happen in what is reputed to be a civilized western European country and one of the eighth richest in the world.
    what does this do to our reputation (for what outside opinion is worth to us) if we are giving millions of pounds away in foreign aid and other questionable projects when we let our elderly die in the poverty of adequate care?

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  • Anonymous

    another comment from anon above

    it is truly depressing to read in NT at the moment all these articles on complaints about poor care, inadequate treatment, lack of resources, political problems, poor nursing management, etc. when we have the know how, skills, motivation and compassion to provide the best possible care to our patients which we should be allowed to carry out unhampered and unhindered and celebrate our profession.

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