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Lack of access to continence services for care home patients

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Many patients are unable to see district nurses Many continence patients are unable to see district nurses

Many care home patients are unable to access specialist and district nurses to treat problems with continence, a report by the Expert Group on Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms (LUTS) has found.

The report, Who Cares? Uncovering the incontinence taboo in social care, found that 49% of local authorities do not ensure that care home providers must make regular access to a specialist continence nurse or a district nurse available when continence needs are identified. The report suggests that, as incontinence is the second biggest factor in admissions to care homes after dementia, a lack of specialist services means there is 'no guarantee that people will be supported with the most fundamental aspects of continence and toileting care.'

Professor Paul Abrams, chair of the expert group on LUTS said: 'People with continence problems, who rely on social care, deserve nothing less than to be treated with respect and in a way that protects their dignity. It is extremely disappointing that this report has uncovered how patchy continence support is and the potential risk that this poses to people who rely on social care support.'

The report also found that 62% of local authorities do not require an initial assessment of bladder and bowel problems to be taken on when the patient begins receiving care at home or is admitted to a care residence. It also found that incontinence affects as much as 80% of people receiving care at home, which costs the NHS up to £121 million each year.

Professor Abrams added: 'Given the ageing population and current pressures on the NHS, there is a real opportunity to reduce unplanned hospital admissions and prolonged stays due to poorly managed incontinence. We would encourage local authorities to take urgent action in response to these findings and drive open and honest conversations about how high quality, compassionate and dignified continence care can be provided, without compromise, within social care settings.'

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