Aims. This study aimed to explore continence prevalence, knowledge and care in Birmingham care homes, UK.
Background. There is an increasing need to respond to rising numbers of care home residents suffering from incontinence in the UK. A lack of staff knowledge, training and treatment options can make this problematic.
Method. A survey was developed and sent to 186 care homes in Birmingham catering for those 65 years old and over. A freepost envelope was provided for return of the completed form.
Results. Sixty-six (35%) surveys were returned providing a representative sample. Eighty per cent of nursing home residents and 49% of residential home residents were reported incontinent. Half of the staff (53%) had some form of qualification in caring/nursing. Absorbent products were used to manage incontinence in over 50% of homes. Advanced age was cited as the main cause of incontinence. Sixty-eight per cent of homes used the continence advisory service and/or district nursing services.
Conclusions. While results proved encouraging in relation to numbers of qualified staff there is a need for improved continence awareness. Focus on aetiology, assessment procedures and treatment options are needed. While external service use levels were encouraging there appeared to be a need for an exchange of knowledge between services to optimize care.
Relevance to clinical practice. While there is an existing body of knowledge relating to continence prevalence and management in nursing homes this research base is lacking for residential care settings. This survey addresses this imbalance by combining information from both settings. This paper also provides an insight into the components that have an impact upon continence promotion, prevention and management. By establishing a picture of current practice an indication of areas for improvement can be exposed.