Continence is the ability to control bladder and bowel function. Incontinence describes any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder or 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.
More than 4.8 million Australians have bladder or bowel control problems for a variety of reasons. It affects both men and women, regardless of age or background.
Incontinence can have a major effect on a person's quality of life. However, it can be treated, managed, and in some cases cured, so it is important to talk to a doctor or qualified health professional.
Continence Resource Centre
The Continence Resource Centre (CRC) is a free statewide continence information and advisory service located at the Independent Living Centre. The CRC is affiliated with the Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA), and is staffed by a registered nurse and a CFA health promotion officer.
The CRC provides information on continence management, local continence services, continence funding schemes and continence products.
Contact the CRC by phone or email, or make an appointment for more detailed advice:
- phone 8266 5260 or 1300 885 886 (South Australian and Northern Territory callers only)
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- visit 11 Blacks Road, Gilles Plains, South Australia, 5086.
The Australian Government Bladder Bowel website
The Australian Government Bladder and Bowel website provides information on the Continence Aids Payment Scheme and ways to prevent and manage bladder and bowel problems.
Continence Foundation of Australia
The Continence Foundation of Australia (CFA) is the national peak body promoting bladder and bowel health. The Foundation has information and brochures on incontinence, continence funding, further assistance and referrals.
They also have a list of continence product suppliers and manufacturers.
National Continence Helpline
The National Continence Helpline is a free, confidential telephone advisory service. Continence nurse advisors provide information and advice about bladder and bowel problems.
Phone the helpline on 1800 33 00 66 (8.00 am to 8.00 pm Monday to Friday, Australian Eastern Standard Time).
There are many continence products available and new solutions are being developed all the time. Some people may need continence products for a short time only while others may use the products as a long-term solution.
Health professionals can help you find suitable products including:
- disposable pads - available in many sizes, shapes and capacities
- disposable pants and all-in-ones
- reusable pads and pants
- uridomes and sheaths for men
- urinary drainage bags and catheters
- bed and chair pads
- waterproof mattress protectors
- odour control products
- skin care products.
Equipment for easier toileting at home
Sometimes people have difficulty using the toilet and suitable toileting equipment can help.
Toileting equipment includes:
- toilet seat raisers or surrounds
- grab rails
- urinals for men and women
Adapted clothing is designed to help people with limited mobility. This clothing features easy-to-use fastenings and elasticated waist bands.
Examples of adapted clothing include:
- nightwear, skirts and dresses with openings at the back
- trousers with side or front fastenings.
Managing incontinence when travelling
Having incontinence does not mean you have to stay at home. There are products and support services available to help people manage incontinence when travelling.
National Public Toilet Map website
The National Public Toilet Map, funded by the Australian Government, shows the location of more than 16,000 publicly available toilets across Australia.
You can access the map using:
Master Locksmiths Access Key
Master Locksmiths Access Key (MLAK) is a system that enables people with disability to gain access to MLAK-supported public facilities, including toilets, 24 hours a day.
Equipment for easier toileting when travelling
A range of portable equipment can help people manage incontinence when travelling and includes:
- disposable urinals for men and women
- chemical toilets - often useful for camping
- folding equipment including over-the-toilet frames and commode chairs.
Help with the cost of continence products
Continence Aids Payment Scheme
The Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS) assists eligible people who have permanent and severe incontinence to meet some of the costs of continence products
Further information on CAPS is available from:
- The National Continence Helpline - phone 1800 33 00 66
- Australian Government Bladder Bowel website
- Medicare Australia - phone 132 011.
Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Appliances Program
The Rehabilitation Appliances Program supplies eligible Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) gold and white card holders with continence products.
Contact the DVA for more information and eligibility:
- phone 133 254
- email email@example.com.
National Disability Insurance Scheme
NDIS is a Commonwealth and state-funded scheme being introduced around Australia to support people with disability.
People with disability who meet NDIS requirements may be eligible for funding for continence products through NDIS.
For further information phone 1800 800 110 or visit the NDIS website.
Toilet training resources
Children and young people with disability may take longer to achieve bladder and bowel control.
Child and Youth Services has more information on toileting and toilet training.