Nurses are not being given sufficient training in assessing and caring for patients with continence problems, suggest findings from a Nursing Times survey.
According to the survey results, 95% of more than 1,000 respondents considered management of continence problems to be a nurse’s responsibility.
But only 64% said they had received any education in caring for patients with such problems in their pre-registration training. Of those who had received some training in bowel and bladder dysfunction, 52% said it was insufficient to carry out a baseline assessment of patients with continence problems.
Additionally, 54% said that they had not received any post-registration education on care for people with continence problems.
One nurse said: ‘My training was over thirty years ago and I have had no updates other than the reading I do myself.’
Another said that ‘sadly due to reorganisation and lack of funding’ post-registration training in working with patients with continence problems had been discontinued.
This gaps in training exist despite ‘continence, bladder and bowel care’ being one of the initial nine Essence of Care benchmarks for nursing care set out by the Department of Health in 2001.
In addition, poor management of continence has often been described in Healthcare Commission reports on nursing care, including Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Mid Staffordshire NHS foundation NHS Trust.
Sharon Eustice, chair of the Association of Continence Advice, said there was a need for more training at both pre- and post-registration for nurses on continence. ‘Lots of university courses on this have been culled over the past year but there definitely needs to be more training,’ she said.
Cath Williams, continence service manager at North Somerset PCT, agreed there needed to be more training but said she was concerned that training courses that were organised were often cancelled due to lack of attendance.
‘We need to make sure training is more flexible and that we are innovative so that nurses can attend,’ she said.
Ms Williams added that ‘attitudes’ towards patients with continence problems among newly qualified nurses needed to become more focused on prevention.
‘The attitude of new nurses is to clean up people with incontinence. If you can get a nurse to think about why that person is incontinent and try and solve the issues they will be more motivated. We need to offer continence promotion services,’ she said.