Toilet problems and continence

9. Continence aids

Sometimes, you might try everything you can but the toilet problems or incontinence don’t go away. In this case, using continence aids can help to keep the person comfortable and protect clothing, furniture and bedding. The main aids are listed below.

  • Incontinence pads and pull-up pants. These can be worn day and night, or during the night only, to draw fluids away from the skin. It is important to find the right type and absorbency for the individual. They should be comfortable without chafing the skin or leaking. They should be changed as often as necessary.
  • Male continence sheath. This is a silicone condom which drains into a bag attached to the leg. It may be especially helpful when worn at night.
  • Absorbent bed pad. This is an under-sheet which provides a dry surface on a bed or a chair. These are available as washable or disposable products.
  • Waterproof mattress protector. This is often used in combination with an absorbent bed pad. The protector should not come into contact with the skin, as it may cause chafing and soreness.

You can also buy special protective duvet covers and pillowcases. You should talk to the continence adviser or community nurse for advice, or to find out how to get NHS-funded supplies. The NHS should supply enough continence products to meet a person’s needs. However, this varies across the country, and many people top up supplies or buy different versions of products independently with their own money. You can get advice and buy products from independent living shops or large branches of high-street chemists. For national organisations that can help, see ‘Other useful organisations’ in the next section.