Introduction and aim Bladder and bowel problems are common in the elderly and are associated with a considerable morbidity and impact on quality of life. Inequalities in service provision and access to services have been recognized but there has been no systematic approach to measuring the quality of continence care for older people. This study aimed to develop quality standards, to assess the reliability and utility of the resulting audit package and to report on the standards of care provided in primary care, secondary care and care home setting.
Method Fifteen sites in secondary care, primary care and in long-term care settings were randomly selected to pilot the audit package. Data collectors completed audit questionnaires relating to the structure [organization] of care, the outcomes of care, and the process of care for 20 subjects with urinary incontinence and 10 subjects with faecal or double incontinence.
Results The audit tool was reliable (median kappa score of 0.7). Access to integrated continence services, as defined by Good Practice in Continence Services was inadequate. Eighty-five per cent of hospitals had no written policy for continence care. There were deficiencies in obtaining information, in carrying out basic and specialist examinations and investigations and in determining the cause of incontinence. There was a high prevalence of catheter use in secondary care settings.
Conclusion The pilot has indicated significant inadequacies in continence care and demonstrates that in many sites the National Service Framework milestone for integrated continence services has not been met. A national audit of continence care is required to determine the extent of inadequate continence care.