HARTMANN Incontinence stage

Incontinence needs wider understanding - 24th National Conference on Incontinence

The National Conference on Incontinence is fast approaching, and will focus on healthy ageing and quality of life and care. Keynote speakers include Professor Mark Weatherall, Anita Francis and Professor Mary Palmer.

The Continence Foundation of Australia committee has once again put together a wide-ranging program for its 24th National Conference, catering for all levels of expertise.

The 2015 conference, running from 25 to 28 November, is a truly multidisciplinary event. A diverse group of speakers will present lectures and workshops to healthcare professionals from a variety of specialisations, ranging from children through to the frail elderly.

"We often consider incontinence as an affliction of the aged, and as health care professionals we need to help educate the wider public that this is not always correct," says Sonya Meyer, Clinical Services Consultant – Continence for HARTMANN, one of the conference sponsors.

Meyer notes that this year's conference features sessions on care and treatment of children and adolescents.

It also allows companies to showcase their products and services, highlighting innovations in treatment and management of incontinence.

The opportunity to network with peers and leaders in the field is an invaluable experience not to be missed.

Quality of life and care

old hands holding young hands
Quality of life and quality of care are recurring themes, particularly in the context of aged care facilities. One of the international keynote speakers, Professor Mary Palmer from the US, will review past and present efforts to improve quality of life and care for older adults, and where she sees that path heading.

In 2015 the Continence Foundation estimated that 4.8 million Australians are living with incontinence. "With the number of people dealing with incontinence estimated to reach 7.4 million by 2030, this is something we all need to keep abreast of. This is our future," says Meyer.

One solution to these burgeoning numbers has been to assist more sufferers to stay at home and for as long as possible, as some of the presentations will explain.

Anita Francis is presenting on assessment and management strategies for incontinence in home dwelling people with dementia. Dementia obviously has significant impact on families and patients alike. The addition of incontinence makes this care even more challenging.

With the aim of keeping people in their homes longer, these sessions are integral to moving ahead and managing the care of these people in the most appropriate way, not only for their wellbeing but also for supporting those who are delivering the care.

Distinguished New Zealand geriatrician Professor Mark Weatherall will also look at aspects of ‘healthy ageing’ – keeping people in the community longer, in safe, healthy environments – in one of the keynote lectures opening the conference.

"I find this topic very interesting and topical, especially with the shrinking health dollar and increasing ages of our elderly population," says Meyer.

Advances in treatment

New Frontiers is an exciting series of lectures running on the final day of the conference.

"A lot of research has gone into paving the way for new procedures, drugs and exercise to advance the treatment, management and cure of incontinence, as well as in the diagnosis and understanding of the physiology," says Meyer.

Education of nurses and carers has become a necessary and ongoing focus for aged care, in particular, and this conference will deliver crucial information for those at the frontline.

Consumer-directed care is also a major focus in giving carers choices about which services they require.

"It's unfortunate that more carers are not exposed to these studies and it remains up to those who can attend to take the knowledge back to their hospitals and care facilities – and indeed the broader community – to ensure the knowledge and skills are passed on," says Meyer.

"Those who have the knowledge will become the advocates for patients and their carers."