Sheaths: A Superior Alternative to Incontinence Pads
Jai Juttla is our Territory Manager for the West Midlands but, before that, he was a physiotherapist. Jai draws upon his experiences of working for the NHS to explain why he thinks that sheaths are a better way of managing incontinence in comparison to pads.
Generally speaking, pads are thin and made from lightweight materials. As a result, they can become folded and often move out of position. When displaced, the effectiveness of the pad is somewhat reduced as the thickest part of the pad which is designed to capture the bulk of the urine is no longer positioned to do so. This often results in a leaking pad. Due to their lightweight design, pads can only hold a limited amount of uring (approx 8oz). As we know, our bladders can hold a lot more urine and again this is another way pads can leak.
Leaking pads and incontinence in general are a common cause of falls in the elderly. Patients wrongly prioritise their need to toilet over safe, secure mobility. With the stresses on domiciliary care, patients often are left waiting hours sitting in their own urine waiting to be cleaned up. The ones who can help themselves do so and often put themselves at risk of falling in the process. In my experience, all risk assessments from the patient go out the window in this situation as they would rather risk falling than remaining wet.
Likewise, during the night, blood pressure drops while sleeping and night time confusion sets in. I’ve had patients tell me they go to the toilet over 15 times a night when they feel the urge just to find they had nothing to expel. This is putting the patient at an increased risk of falling which would leaf to ambulance call outs and hospital admissions. A fractured neck of femur is one of the most common injuries caused by falls in the elderly, it requires surgical intervention in 100% of cases and patients can expect a 3–4 weeks hospital stay following surgery. All of which cost the NHS drastically.
Quicker Discharge from Hospital
I have seen on multiple occasions where a patient’s discharge has been delayed for a number of days as the therapy teams have been unable to identify a safe way for the patient to toilet themselves overnight. Pads are often provided on discharge with the recommendation that the patient uses a pad overnight and remains in bed to prevent a fall. But this is rarely adhered to by the patient who will likely try to use the bathroom as they don’t want to urinate in their own bed. Again, this leads to recurrent falls and readmissions. An alternate option if for the hospital to discharge the patient with a “wrap around carer”. This is where a private care agency will provide a carer to sit in with the patient on discharge for 72 hours to help them on and off the toilet over night while community therapy teams rush around trying to find the safest way for the patient to toilet overnight. Both a delayed discharge and a sit in carer have huge financial implications on the NHS as well as an increased workload for both the acute and community teams. A sheath is a much more cost effective alternative to this recurrent problem faced by the NHS.
Dignity and Empowerment
There is a huge push in the community to empower patients to live independent lives. A lot of the ownership of care is now put back onto patients and a lot of teaching takes place educating patients on how to be autonomous and responsible for their own care and recovery. Sheaths are certainly more progressive and dignified than pads. From my experience, I found patients feel as though their lives are coming to an end once they are put onto pads, they give up hope in many aspects and begin to self neglect. Sheaths promote independence, discretion and dignity. All of which are key in patient rehabilitation.
If you currently use incontinence pads, why not find out more about our GB Libra Sheath which could offer a much more comfortable, dignified and life enhancing option for you.