Your choice of product should be based on your residents’ individual needs. Choosing the right type of product not only improves your residents’ quality of life, it could also ease your own workload.
Our bodies change as we age, and this may affect our ability to stay continent. Toileting preserves the dignity and independence of your residents, which increases their quality of life. It also leads to less waste, which is more sustainable and better for the environment. Here are a few strategies to that can help make toileting easier for caregivers and prevent incontinence in your residents.
Leave bathroom door open and lights on at night
Make it easy for residents to find the bathroom at night. Try light motion sensors that turn on automatically upon entering (amber-colored lights will minimize sleep disturbances from the light).
Mark bathroom, light switch and toilet seats with contrasting colors
Make the bathroom door clearly visible and ensure the bathroom light switch is well marked. A colored and contrasting toilet seat, raised toilet chair or handrails, can also help with visibility and positioning.
Pay special attention to signs that a person needs to use the bathroom
This is particularly important when caring for people with any cognitive impairment, as they might not be able to interpret the signals from the bladder and bowel themselves or know what to do when they need to go.
Make sure the resident’s clothes are easy to take off and put on
Senior residents may have impaired mobility and dexterity. Accidents can be avoided with practical clothes that are easy to pull on and off. If incontinence products are required, pants are a good choice to facilitate toileting and maintain independence.
Keep the bathroom clean, tidy and safe
Ensure the toilet area is kept clean, hygiene articles are kept within reach, and that the person can easily call for assistance if needed.
Praise residents and remain positive
This is very important to be successful with toileting assistance, as it can be difficult for people to accept needing help with personal care. Promote dignity by providing privacy, and interactions that make the person feel comfortable, in control and valued.
Skip a scheduled bathroom visit
If you skip a scheduled bathroom visit, you increase the risk of the person having an accident, which can affect their sense of dignity and self-esteem. If an accident happens, simply say something reassuring like “anyone could have an accident, I’ll help you.”
Only help with toileting at set times
Regular routines are good, but you should also be flexible and make sure that assistance is available when it’s needed. Continually look out for signs that they may need to go throughout the day. Most people need to go to the bathroom 4-8 times during daytime, and sometimes at night if they are over the age of 60. An average toileting schedule includes visits on waking up in the morning, after breakfast, around lunchtime, in the afternoon, in the evening and before bed.
Replace the bathroom visit with an incontinence product
A pad should never replace a bathroom visit. Keep encouraging and helping the resident to the bathroom when needed. If they need incontinence products, choose an individually suited product type in the right size and absorbency level, and make sure it’s attached securely to avoid discomfort and skin chafing as well as to prevent leakages.
Audited by Josefine Grandin, District nurse, urotherapist, 2022-09-28