Continence and Toileting

Published on August 4, 2012

Urinary incontinence is the inability to control the bladder. It is one of the most common reasons people seek nursing home care. Over half of California nursing home residents are considered incontinent. Incontinence and lack of toileting assistance cause many serious problems, including discomfort, skin rashes, pressure sores, falls, isolation and psychological harm.

Incontinence is not considered a normal part of aging and is often reversible. Many times it is due to medications or temporary, treatable health conditions. The law requires each resident with bladder or bowel control problems must be promptly assessed and be provided treatments and care that can improve the condition.

In particular, catheters cannot be used simply for the convenience of the staff and thus, without medical justification. Catheters cause discomfort, limit mobility and increase the risk of infection, bladder stones and cancer. If a catheter is used, the nursing home must provide appropriate treatment and services to prevent urinary tract infections and to restore as much normal bladder function as possible.

A large percentage of nursing home residents need help with toileting. The most common examples include a resident with limited mobility who may need help to reach the toilet or a resident with dementia who may need reminders to use the toilet on a regular basis. Nursing homes must help these residents use the toilet whenever needed.