Culture change

An active care approach to promoting continence is the focus of an improvement project within Campsie View Care Home in Kirkintilloch – and this initiative is making a positive impact to the overall health and wellbeing of the residents taking part.

Jacqueline Dennis, Health Improvement Adviser at the Care Inspectorate, who supports the project, said incontinence affects many older people living in care homes across Scotland, so a proactive approach to continence care has the potential to enhance emotional and physical wellbeing for many individuals.

Jacqueline explained: “People assume as they get older they’ll lose control of their bowel and bladder but it is not an inevitable part of ageing and we’re beginning to change this culture and challenge assumptions. It’s about adopting a different mindset and approach that meets individual needs. Continence is a single issue which, if we address it proactively, can deliver multiple benefits.”

Jacqueline brought together key people from across health and social care to create the project team who would work with Campsie View Care Home staff in testing ideas that might lead to improved continence care outcomes. The project team included care home staff, NHSGGC Continence Resource Service personnel, and the OntexID specialist nurse.

The project runs from June to December with the aim of developing a reliable bowel and bladder assessment that leads to individual continence promotion activity being put in place to meet the individual care requirements.

Katy Jenks, Manager of Campsie View, which has 90 residents of whom 80 per cent have continence issues, said the project has been highly successful.

She added: “It’s a win-win solution that works. The concept is active care tailored to suit individuals’ specific needs. We have the same staffing levels, it’s just a different way of doing things that delivers a better outcome for residents and frees more time for enjoyable social interaction between staff and residents.”

She said residents who took part are less dependent on care staff, which is impacting positively on self esteem and dignity. Becoming continent has also reduced their risk of skin breakdown and urine infections and helped them become more physically active.

Katy said the experience of one resident who previously never left the care home because of embarrassment over continence issues, demonstrates how an active continence care approach can change lives. “As a direct result of taking part in the project they achieved their goal of being able to attend their daughter’s wedding – the entire family were over the moon.”

At the end of the continence project, Katy will share the results with other managers in the Four Seasons group, which has more than 300 care homes across the UK.