Older people are not always treated with dignity or able to use toilet facilities when they need to. These are the findings of two in-depth studies of continence care of older people in hospitals and nursing homes.
The studies were carried out by the University of Kent and the RCP’s Clinical Effectiveness and Evaluation Unit (CEEU), and supported by the Royal College of Physicians and the British Geriatrics Society.
In the first study, researchers interviewed 33 people between the ages of 68 and 89 over a four-month period about continence issues and how these affected their dignity. The researchers found that older people often had to wait to use the toilet despite buzzing and calling for help and were not always cleaned following toileting which led to distress and loss of dignity.
The study highlighted that older people viewed incontinence as a threat to dignity as it is a stigmatising condition with social consequences and were unlikely to seek help from professionals and friends.
Another in-depth study observing continence care for 10 patients over a period of days gave very similar results, with concerns being raised over dignity, privacy, cleanliness and hand washing facilities.
The results have been used to inform the next round of the National Audit of Continence Care, which began last week. The audit allows care providers to compare the quality of their continence care with evidence based criteria.