World Continence Week
Posted by Zoe Stitt on June 22, 2022
It’s World Continence Week (WCW), So Let’s Talk All Things Continence...
Studies have shown that around 400 million people worldwide are affected by incontinence issues at some point during their lives, that equates to almost 7% of the population.
People living with incontinence often find that not only are they physically impacted, but that the condition can take its toll on their social and emotional well-being, too. That’s why we want to support World Continence Week by not only helping to raise awareness, but by offering our suggestions on some great aids that can help you to live independently with incontinence.
What Is Incontinence?
Incontinence can affect both the bladder (urinary incontinence) and bowels (faecal incontinence), and affects millions of people across the globe.
There are several types of urinary and faecal incontinence that are caused by various factors, although the similar nature of some symptoms can sometimes make it difficult to diagnose a condition accurately.
Many things can impact incontinence, including medication, post operative healing, stress and age, amongst a whole host of other things.
It’s important to note that there are many ways to control, or cure, some types of incontinence related issues, both surgically and non-surgically however, professionals believe that due to the stigma around bladder and bowel related issues, people may find it difficult to reach out to their GP, or healthcare worker.
What is World Continence Week?
World Continence Week is an annual initiative that runs from 20th to 26th June, with the primary aim of raising awareness around bladder and bowel issues that greatly impact the lives of people living with these conditions, and those who care for them.
The initiative is run by the World Federation of Incontinence and Pelvic Problems (WFIPP) and supported by the International Continence Society (ICS) and the European Association of Urology (EAU) who both work to establish continence awareness.
This year, World Continence Week has inspired the WFIPP to arrange a series of informative webinars, allowing companies and and leading authorities to present their products. This worldwide network lets individuals share ideas throughout the health campaign, and discuss ways in which they can help improve health and confidence in those living daily with incontinence related issues.
Alongside the health campaign run by the WFIPP, there are also free resources on offer to those seeking information, giving advice on living with continence issues and providing a toolkit to supporters who may want to run their own events during this week.
Living with Continence Issues
Living with incontinence, or bladder related conditions, can have a significant effect on not only a person’s physical wellbeing, but can also cause great emotional distress and even deterioration of mental health in some cases.
People living with these conditions often feel isolated and without support, due to the taboo and lack of awareness surrounding openly discussing these issues.
World Continence Week is all about encouraging people to reach out to a relative, close friend, or healthcare professional for support however, we do recognise how difficult opening up about anything bladder related can be. We want to assure you there is help out there, and whilst we might not be able to offer you medical support, or pop round for a brew and a chat, if there’s one thing we do know, it’s independent living aids.
We’re going to highlight some of the aids available to you to help ease the stress of living with continence issues, in the hope that we can help make life a little bit easier for you, or a loved one.
Underwear and Pads
One of the most popular options available to those living with continence issues is pads and padded underwear. This is a low cost and discreet way to ensure that you can still head out for any occasion with confidence.
Each individual will have a preference when it comes to pads versus pants.
Pads allow for absorption of urine by allowing you to stick a porous pad into your underwear. Once the pad becomes full, or after it has been soiled, it can be removed, disposed of and replaced with a new one.
These pads can range in absorption levels, from lighter, which means they will allow for a small amount of urine to be absorbed before they are full, to heavy, for those who require extra absorption. The Lille Supreme Light Normal Pads are a good option to start with until you are able to work out what level of absorption you need.
Incontinence underwear is a good option for those who want to feel a little bit more supported and confident when wearing underwear. Underwear options can differ greatly, from full waterproof briefs to disposable pants like the iD pants which offer full support for more active people.
The most common type of incontinence underwear you’re likely to come across is the pad style. This underwear, available for both men and women, features a pocket sewn into the pants in which 'sits' a removable pad, or a permanent pad is integrated into the pants. The pad and underwear can then be washed and reused.
One of the major plus points of this type of underwear is the range of styles, and how discreet it is. These briefs look very much like any other underwear on the market, allowing you to confidently wear whatever you want, whenever you want.
We often forget the ways in which incontinence can affect our skin. Constant wiping with toilet roll can result in dry, sore skin in sensitive areas, leaving us uncomfortable and in pain.
Incontinence wipes are a softer alternative to traditional toilet paper. These antibacterial incontinence wipes are pre-moistened with moisturising surfactants that gently cleanse the skin whilst leaving it soft and cared for.
Wipes also leave behind a barrier on the skin against urine, or faeces, protecting it from further effects of incontinence.
Urinals are a great option for those who find getting to the bathroom quickly a struggle. This might be due to limited mobility, or simply because you are out and about and a bit of a distance from the nearest toilet.
These daily living aids are designed to be portable, so they can be kept to hand, allowing them to be placed next to a bed, in the car, or anywhere else that would be useful.
There are a variety of urinals available, from single use disposable ones, to ones designed specifically for use in the home.
Whilst unisex urinals do exist, generally, urinals will be designed to fit the shape of either a male or a female, as this helps to create less chance of spillage, or backsplash, when in use.
Some urinals offer the option of a lid, or a spill proof version, which helps reduce odours if the urinal is not able to be emptied straight after use.
For those living with continence issues, whether chronic, or temporary, we know that from time to time, leaks are going to happen. This is particularly a concern to most people at night time when we go the longest between using the bathroom, urinating, or emptying our bowels.
One thing you don’t want to be worrying about is protecting your soft furnishings from leaks, or having to spend time cleaning and de-odourising them afterwards. There are several products available to help protect chairs, settees and beds without compromising on style.
The Kylie range of chair and bed pads have a double use. Not only do they draw moisture towards the waterproof backing to protect the furniture underneath, but they are also padded, adding a layer of comfort to your favourite armchair, or bed. These pads are available in a range of colours to suit any home and can be easily machine washed as often as you feel necessary.
In addition to mattress protectors, like the ones above, we know that duvets can also be at risk of becoming soiled, and let’s be honest, who has the time to wash and dry a duvet every night?
A great solution to this is the Wipe Clean Duvet. This innovative cover manages to incorporate comfort and softness, whilst being simple to keep clean, requiring only a wipe with a damp cloth.
Not everyone living with incontinence finds that it is a permanent part of their lives. For some, incontinence is a temporary condition which comes and goes, or is a short-term result of a medical procedure, or life changes. If this is the case, we can understand the reluctance to spend a great deal of money on mobility aids.
The incontinence market does include disposable, or short-term use items, such as Disposable Bed Protectors, which helps to protect furniture without the investment of permanent products.
Toilet seats aren’t the first thing that spring to mind when you think about incontinence, but sometimes, the fixtures and fittings we have in our bathrooms just aren’t suitable for the people using them. However, we know that splashing out on a new bathroom suite isn’t an option available to most people, so modified toilet seats can be a great way to assist with using the toilet safely and effectively.
We know that when it comes to the toilet rush, every second counts. Raised toilet seats, such as the Savannah, are a good way of making it quicker and easier for those with limited mobility and continence issues. These seats minimise the distance between you and the toilet seat, making it easier to rise and sit down.
There are also toilet seats available with fixed, or adjustable arms. If you find that you need that little bit of support when lowering yourself down to use the toilet, or getting up after you’ve used it, these handles are a great aid.
Last but by no means least, we have commodes.
Commodes are the number one aid in helping people with compromised continence live independently. These clever solutions mean that rather than you getting to the toilet, the toilet can come to you, eliminating the risk of leakage, or not making it in time.
Whilst some of the top end luxury commodes, such as the Royale commode, can come with a hefty price tag, there are plenty mid-range commodes on the market to suit every need and budget.
The Stacking Commode has all the features you could want – it’s height adjustable, is easy to clean, and is also comfortable with a padded back and comes in at a very reasonable price.
With so many commodes on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to pick one that suits your needs, or even just trying to decide which ones are the best. We’ve taken the stress out of choosing a commode for you, take a look at our top 5 commodes here, chosen by people with years of experience in the industry.
Hopefully, we’ve given you some ideas on how you can continue to live a full and independent life with continence issues. We know that living aids can be overwhelming, and there is a lack of awareness of what products are available, so please feel free to get in touch with one of our friendly and highly experienced colleagues if you want to chat about any of the products we’ve listed above.
There is plenty of support out there for those who are living with continence related issues, those caring for them, or anyone affected in any way by continence related matters.
- The World Federation of Incontinence and Pelvic Problems has a host of material on urinary incontinence and bowel health information, to help raise awareness and support those who need it, not only during World Continence Week (WCW), but all year round.
- Bladder & Bowel UK offer an informative website, along with a free national confidential helpline which supports people of all ages living with, or affected by, incontinence and other issues.
- Age UK offer support and advice around incontinence and also offer free 'just can't wait' cards which explain that the holder has a medical condition and may need access to usually locked toilets, or need access more quickly.
Lastly, incontinence related issues are more common than you think, so reach out and speak to someone if you are affected by any incontinence in any way. It could be a friend, family member, or healthcare provider, but get the conversation started.
Come on... let's break the taboo around the loo!