The Newcastle Specialist Continence Service have been shortlisted for the ‘Continence Nurse of the Year’ category at this year’s British Journal of Nursing Awards.
The Newcastle Specialist Continence service submitted their Light Urinary Incontinence Project (LiP) with a core focus on good bladder healthcare and reducing the reliance on continence products whilst improving quality of life for patients and their loved ones.
Nurse Consultant for Continence Jackie Rees explains: “For many years there has been a growing reliance on the prescription and use of containment products for people with bladder and bowel care dysfunction.
“We want to be able to change that view and demonstrate that from the outset, patients with light urinary incontinence should be offered an assessment, and alternative treatment options considered before prescribing any products. Our LiP work started in November 2020 and so far the evaluations and feedback received has been extremely positive.”
Continence problems can affect people’s quality of life
The NHS estimate that between 3-6 million people in the UK suffer with some degree of urinary incontinence. There are lots of reasons why people experience these symptoms which can be upsetting and affect people’s quality of life, yet there are a number of treatments and exercises available which, if followed properly and regularly, can be truly lifechanging.
“Following an assessment including a pelvic floor examination, a number of options can usually be recommended”, adds Sarah the Nurse Specialist who has delivered the light urinary incontinence clinics. “These may be appropriate pelvic floor strengthening, effective bladder retraining, improvement with frequency of voiding through voiding techniques. We also promote and advise on the importance of hydration with a key focus on the “2H’s” – hydration and hygiene.”
Sarah and her colleague Alyson also developed a set of guidelines and competencies to be followed in the community which supports the project.
Their project involved 29 GP practices and 20 District Nursing teams with 47 members of community based healthcare staff undergoing formal training to be able to carry out the pelvic floor assessments and instigate the appropriate treatments.
Of the 764 people approached during the project, 268 (35%) accepted the offer of an assessment and 203 have been discharged to date after levels 1-3 treatment, with improvements made to the management of their condition or without the need for any containment products, resulting in considerable savings.
The patient pathway is now much improved with patients referred directly to the light urinary continence clinic.
Positive feedback showed how important compassion and encouragement to patients and their carers can be as continence issues receive a negative stigma, and many patients are unable to resume normal activities. Comments included:
- “Able to take my children out on long walks without worrying where the toilet is – thank you”
- “I can socialise with friends again, rather than avoiding going out”
- “Your intervention has allowed looking after my wife much easier and has resulted in us both getting a lot more sleep”
- “It is useful to have someone holding me accountable for making improvements to my health”
- “Having someone take an interest in this part of my health is refreshing, it is good to talk about it as I don’t normally talk about it with anyone”
“The LiP project is patient focused so receiving such positive feedback is great to see and shows that by ensuring first line approaches towards assessment and treatment are considered, you can get really positive results,” says Sarah.
“We also found that by adopting quality improvement (QI) theories and methodology to our clinical practice project, we benefited from a structured approach which helped us to focus when monitoring the interventions and providing clarity to future work.”
The British Journal of Nursing Awards ceremony takes place on the evening of Friday 25th March and we wish the team the very best of luck.