Continence is the ability to control bladder and bowel function. Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary:
- loss of urine from the bladder
- bowel motion, faeces or wind from the bowel.
Incontinence can range in severity from 'just a small leak' to complete loss of bladder or bowel control. It can be treated, managed, and in some cases cured, so it's important to talk to a doctor or qualified health professional.
Where to get continence support
National Continence Helpline
The National Continence Helpline is a free, confidential telephone advisory service staffed by continence nurse advisors.
- Phone 1800-330-066 (8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time).
Continence Foundation of Australia
The Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) is the national peak body promoting bladder and bowel health. The Foundation has information on incontinence, continence funding, travel tips, carer support and referrals.
Bladder and bowel problems
The Australian Government Department of Health website describes ways to prevent and manage bladder and bowel problems.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
People with disability who meet NDIS requirements may be eligible for funding for continence products through NDIS.
Easier toileting at home
Sometimes people have difficulty using the toilet. Equipment that may help includes toilet seat raisers, grab rails, commodes and urinals.
There are many personal continence products available such as pads, urinary drainage bags, mattress protectors and odour control products. New solutions are being developed all the time.
Adapted clothing features easy-to-use fastenings and elasticated waistbands that make it quicker and easier to be ready to use the toilet.
Health professionals can help you find the best equipment, products and clothing for your situation.
Easier toileting when travelling
Having incontinence does not mean you have to stay at home. Portable equipment and public services can help manage incontinence when travelling.
The range of portable equipment includes disposable urinals for men and women, chemical toilets (often used for camping) and folding equipment like over-the-toilet frames and commode chairs.
Health professionals can help you find the best equipment for your situation.
Accessing public toilets
National Public Toilet Map website
The National Public Toilet Map, funded by the Australian Government, shows the location of more than 16,000 public toilets across Australia.
Access the map using:
- your computer or mobile phone with an internet browser
- the National Public Toilet Map App
- toilet locations uploaded from the map to your GPS.
Paying for continence products
Continence Aids Payment Scheme
The Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) helps eligible people who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the costs of continence products.
To get a payment under the CAPS scheme, you must:
- be 5 years or older
- have permanent and severe bladder or bowel incontinence
- have an eligible condition, and
- hold a Pensioner Concession Card from the Services Australia or the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA).
The Services Australia website has detailed information on the scheme.
Toilet training children and young people
Children and young people with disability may take longer to achieve bladder and bowel control.
Continence Foundation of Australia has resources on toilet training for children.