“Taking the Pee”
As this is my very special place, I am sharing my controversial article that is featuring in Devon Life for April, although it will be on bookshelves/magazine shelves in March.
“Taking the Pee!”
This may be the April edition of Devon Life, but what I am about to discuss is no April Fool.
Now, you may think that Devon Life is probably not the place you would expect to encounter what I am about to share with you, however despite previous political cross-party investigation and studies they are currently the only media source courageous enough to highlight the issue-at the moment-watch this space.
It has come to my attention recently, that across the UK that incontinent people young and elderly are rationed to 3 incontinence pads per 24 hours by the NHS forcing most to top up out of their own pocket which causes financial hardship.
I don’t want you to choke on your coffee or spoil your lunch, but I am determined to ensure as many people as possible are aware of this travesty. The articles I write are not to pull punches or be sensationalist, but to be honest and share the truth with you both good and bad about issues that may affect you now or in the future.
You may or may not be aware of this situation, you may indeed currently be affected by the issue, either as a person with continence problems or as a carer and find the situation unbearable and supplement supplies yourself.
Please contact me and share your experiences. Your identity will be hidden, but the more case studies I have the better. I have many already but the more evidence, the greater the chance of highlighting what is a huge but unspoken about issue.
As with all taboos, we make something a taboo because we feel awkward or embarrassed. Losing control of continence is like dementia used to be, stigmatised because people didn’t understand or found it difficult to talk about.
Without effective treatment and support, incontinence can have a significant impact on a persons’ physical and mental health and often leads to the destruction of social and personal relationships.
With this issue affecting an estimated 14million people with bladder problems and 6.5 having bowel and bladder this is no longer an issue to be swept under the carpet.
The Nursing Times recently questioned whether everyone reporting as incontinent indeed needs to be. They feel with good staffing levels in homes and sufficient toileting care, many elderly people especially would not have to rely on pads.
However good staffing levels are not always achievable leaving hard pushed carers with no option. With the recent report into the adult social care workforce in England published in February of this year showing huge problems recruiting and retaining carers and trained nurses for residential care continuing to an issue. Demand is outstripping supply, already 1.2 million people aged 65 or over have unmet care needs.
The incontinent person, their family, and the carers are all often traumatised by the situation. A baby left in a soaking nappy would be deemed a victim of neglect, why is it any different for an elderly person or disabled person?
To my mind, it is equally unacceptable, if not more so. Elderly people find the situation especially difficult having known the ability to control their bowel and bladder most of their lives.
Pad rationing leads to agonising urine burns and an increased risk of pressure sores developing which then cause a loss of independence further and admission to a hospital or care home.
Surely this costs more than allowing free utilisation of products?
Some of the pads have the capacity to hold two litres of liquid. That is the volume of a large bottle of coke! Image the weight, the loss of mobility and the loss above all of DIGNITY.
An audit was commissioned in 2006 by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) against NICE standards for urinary and faecal incontinence. This audit showed “that the integration of continence services, so crucial for delivering joined-up continence care “ is a dream rather than a reality”.
The last audit in 2010 reported “significant deficits in training, diagnosis, treatments and patient communications, with older people receiving the worst care. Funding for the HQIP ran out in 2011. With an ever- ageing population it is “unclear whether continence will be re-commissioned as a national audit”.
In 2012 with the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act, clinicians specialising in continence care were increasingly expressing major concern back then and then in 2013 a continence care survey was conducted across the UK which despite damning conclusions nothing changed.
Whilst, I might not be able to challenge this situation and achieve results, I am committed to having it addressed in the media so more people are aware of the travesty.
Who knows we may at least raise awareness and have further “audits’ – But, we need more than audits – it’s like the Green Paper the cross-party politicians are examining in the Summer in a bid to fathom out the social care crisis. Green Paper, white paper, we need more than paper to disguise these crucial issues, unless the solution is to merely paper over the cracks?
Huge thanks to Tony Husband, the award-winning cartoonist whose cartoons have showcased in Private Eye, the Times and Telegraph. He is backing my “Take the Pee” campaign and kindly drew the amazing cartoon featuring Doris, Bert, cat Tiddles, and goldfish Sushi.
With one in 12 of us aged over 80 by 2039, the cartoon may be a reality.