In the realm of home nursing, one often overlooked aspect is continence management
Managing urinary and bowel functions can become a significant concern for individuals with various conditions or aging adults, impacting their overall quality of life. In this guide, we delve into the three pivotal stages of home nursing continence management: assessment, planning, and ongoing well-being follow-up.
Assessing the Issue
Before diving into continence management strategies, it’s crucial to have a thorough assessment. This is the foundation for any successful continence management plan.
- Understanding the Underlying Causes – Continence issues might arise from various reasons – be it neurological disorders, spinal cord injuries, aging, or post-surgical complications. Conducting a thorough medical history, current medications, and a physical examination is crucial in pinpointing the root cause.
- Observation & Documentation – Home nurses often maintain a ‘bladder and bowel diary’. Here, they document times of urination or bowel movements, any incontinence episodes, fluid intake, type and amount of incontinence (including urge, stress, overflow, or functional), and any associated symptoms like pain or discomfort.
- Involvement of Specialists – Sometimes, a more specialised evaluation might be necessary. Urologists, gastroenterologists, or experienced continence nurses can provide expert insights and advanced diagnostic tools, like bladder scans or urodynamic testing.
Making Plans for Management
Once the assessment phase offers a clear picture, it’s time to curate a personalised management plan.
- Non-invasive Interventions – Often, the first line of approach includes lifestyle changes and behavioural therapies, such as:
- Bladder training: This involves scheduled toilet breaks, and gradually increasing the time between visits to retrain the bladder.
- Pelvic floor exercises: Strengthening these muscles can be especially helpful for stress incontinence.
- Dietary modifications: Avoiding irritants like caffeine, acidic foods, or excessive fluids before bedtime can minimise symptoms.
- Medications & Therapies – Some individuals might benefit from medications that affect bladder muscle function or bowel motility (movement through the bowel). Hormonal treatments, anticholinergics (the body’s messengers), or alpha-blockers (blood pressure meds) are a few examples.
- Adaptive Equipment and Helpful Products – For many, incontinence products like pads, disposable undergarments or protective bed covers, can make a huge difference to one’s quality of life. Catheters or bowel irrigation systems might be necessary for others. It’s essential to find products that fit well, ensuring comfort and minimizing the risk of skin issues and social awkwardness.
- Surgical Options – In cases where non-invasive methods don’t provide relief, surgical procedures might be considered by an appropriate health professional. Your VIVA Home nurse would be able to discuss this with you if this is recommended by your doctor.
Following up on Ongoing Wellbeing and Success
Continence management doesn’t end once a plan is in place. Regular follow-ups are recommended to ensure the person’s well-being, and to adjust strategies, if and when necessary.
- Regular Check-ins – Scheduled visits allow one’s VIVA Mutual home nurse to evaluate the effectiveness of the continence management plan, addressing any complications or concerns that might arise.
- Re-evaluation – If symptoms don’t improve or worsen, it might be time to re-evaluate. This could involve revisiting the initial assessment, considering alternate treatments, or involving additional specialists.
- Emotional & Psychological Support – Continence issues can take a toll on one’s emotional and psychological well-being. Feelings of embarrassment, frustration, or sometimes depression are common. VIVA Mutual’s home nurses play a pivotal role in providing emotional support, ensuring people don’t feel isolated or overwhelmed.
- Educating & Empowering – Keeping people informed about their condition, health management strategies, and potential outcomes can make them feel more in control. This education also equips them to make informed choices, ensuring better adherence to treatment plans and improved outcomes.
Continence management in VIVA Mutual’s home nursing involves a multi-faceted approach. With thorough assessments, personalised plans, and regular follow-ups, many individuals find relief and a restored sense of normalcy in their daily lives. At VIVA Mutual, it’s not just about managing symptoms but about empowering individuals to lead comfortable, dignified lives, irrespective of their continence concerns. If you, a client or a loved one are navigating these challenges, remember that with the right support and strategies, improvement is within reach.
For those considering home nursing now or in the future, the benefits are clear. And at VIVA Mutual, you’re assured of quality, compassion and expertise every step of the way. If you’d like to explore how VIVA Mutual can support you, your participants or your loved one, don’t hesitate to reach out and make an obligation-free enquiry.
VIVA Mutual’s Home Nursing team is available around the clock to support NDIS participants with health management in their homes, away from clinics and hospitals. All members of the VIVA team are qualified Registered Nurses or Enrolled Nurses who can provide a wide range of services; from injections and wound care to supporting the management of complex conditions such as incontinence, dysphagia and diabetes. For many, the VIVA Mutual Home Nursing approach can lead to quicker and more comfortable recovery, while potentially reducing overall healthcare costs, and building trusting relationships with our caregivers.
For a confidential chat with VIVA’s lovely Nursing Team, please call 08 8877 8000 or send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org.