Our new continence service
By Annette Collins
Clinical Services Training Coordinator
Continence issues are another way of saying incontinence, which is any accidental wees or poos. In simple language, continence is the ability to control wees and poos so there are no unintentional leaks, whereas incontinence is when wee or poo accidentally comes out when you don’t want it to.
Continence issues are common among the children and adolescents we work with at Early Links. We’ve introduced a new service to help clients, parents, and carers manage these issues.
What is the new service all about?
Many of our clients at Early Links face continence issues, which may involve difficulties becoming toilet trained or ongoing/occasional problems with wee and poo (e.g. constipation, withholding, smearing, rushing to the toilet, wetting etc.). As continence issues can have a significant impact on a child’s (and parent’s) quality of life, social participation, and long-term health, we feel that it is important to be able to address this need specifically.
The Early Links continence service will involve an OT and/or dietitian trained in continence. They can provide you and your child with information about how the body works to make wee and poo and what can go wrong, and help you to gather information about your child’s toilet patterns to prepare for medical consultation with your GP. It’s important that there is medical consultation from a GP or Nurse Continence Specialist to address any underlying medical reasons and/or have appropriate medication prescribed.
Our therapists will also look at how all the following things could be impacting continence:
- unique sensory responses
- postural stability
- toilet training history
- diet and water intake
- social reactions
- toileting environments
Staff doing a continence training session with Annette
They will create a plan that will work for you to assist your child’s developing continence skills. That could look like skilling you up to know what to do, having regular education or therapy sessions with your child, and/or regular phone, telehealth or support sessions. This service can be funded through your NDIS plan, Medicare, or fee-for-service.
Why is this service important?
I believe there is insufficient education and support for continence issues for neurodiverse children. There is evidence that autism, ADHD, or developmental delays impact continence in children, but specific support for these issues is difficult to access. These children’s lives are so busy that continence issues may not be focused on during their therapy services, even when it can significantly impact social participation, self-care skills, eating, behaviour, and sleep.
Can you do a continence assessment?
We cannot do a physical examination like a nurse or GP can, but we help you collect the required information and support you in the other ways described above. Sometimes your NDIS plan will specify having a Continence Nurse (also called Nurse Continence Specialist) involved for an assessment, often when evidence is required for ongoing use of continence products past the age of five years.
Why is this a passion of yours?
I have been interested in understanding continence issues for some time. Over the past five years, I have done lots of training to understand more and figure out how we might be able to address these issues. I believe this need cannot be adequately addressed in children’s busy lives and needs more dedicated interventions and education. As an OT who has worked with neurodiverse children for a long time, I could see that this area wasn’t being addressed and wanted to start building knowledge and skills to support these kids and their families.
Want to know more?
To learn more about the Early Links continence service and whether it is right for you, contact us via the email or phone below.
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