Managing the toilet needs of someone who is immobile is a challenge which has led to various solutions – either physically transferring the person to the bathroom, using a hoist or commode chair; providing a bedpan or hand-held urinal at need; using incontinence protection, such as adult nappies and bed pads. All have their place, but if used inappropriately can lead to considerable upset and loss of dignity for the person concerned.
Bedridden and continent
A person who is confined to bed through illness or disability, but has control of their bladder and bowel movements should not be left with incontinence protection to manage their toilet needs. Apart from the traditional bedpan, which has been around for more than a century, there is a new alternative which enables more dignified and hygienic toileting. The Solaticare system has a suction head which rises through the mattress to its working position, in very close contact with the body. As elimination starts, sensors within the suction head automatically remove the waste into a hermetically sealed unit which is located at the bedside. When the user has finished, they are rinsed with warm water, and then their skin is dried with warm air. The suction head returns beneath the mattress, and the mattress infill returns to give a comfortable feel to the bed. This new solution is available in two versions – a fully automatic hospital unit, which is simply initiated at the touch of a button; and a community model, which requires assistance from a carer to position the suction head when required.
Incontinence protection for those without continence control
As well as protecting mattresses and upholstery from the consequences of incontinence, it is important that any incontinence pads and sheets also maintain the comfort and dignity of the user. For example, a rubber sheet may be effective at preventing urine from soaking into a mattress, but it is unpleasant to lie on, causing sweating and overheating.
Good quality bedding protectors absorb spills, while providing a comfortable surface for the bed’s occupant. The range available includes duvet and pillow protectors as well as shields for the mattress. Non-slip backing will help the pad stay in position.
Washable pads can be more discreet than disposables, although the upfront cost is greater, and laundering is a consideration. Disposable pads save labour, but you need to consider both storage and hygienic disposal.
All-in-one briefs, sometimes referred to as adult diapers or adult nappies, are the easiest incontinence protection to change on inactive people or those confined to a bed. Disposable all-in-ones offer very high levels of absorbency, with a stay-dry layer next to the skin, to help keep the user dry and comfortable.