Academic and Registered Nurse, Professor Joan Ostaszkiewicz, together with her colleagues at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI), was awarded a $5000 funding prize for vital research into the experiences, expectations, and preferences for continence care in residential aged care homes.
Professor Ostaszkiewicz took home the Barry Cahill Travel Scholarship for the Best Paper Prize at the National Conference on Incontinence in Melbourne last month.
Almost three-quarters of aged care residents live with urinary incontinence. The negative impacts of incontinence can drastically affect the quality of life of older people, increasing the risk of falls and the development of painful dermatitis. Despite these known impacts, Professor Ostaszkiewicz said there is limited evidence about the lived experience of people with continence care needs in Australian residential aged care homes.
“Incontinence is a topic that is all too often overlooked and ignored. We found that there was inadequate research into the lived experiences of people with continence care needs in Australian residential aged care,” Professor Ostaszkiewicz said.
“It was really important to us that we listen to those who need the support, and base future planning and models of care around them.”
The research study was part of a larger program of research, funded by the Continence Foundation of Australia, resulting in the development of a best practice model of continence care in residential aged care homes in Australia.
The research project found that aged care residents were worried that staff would not be able to respond in time to their need for toileting assistance. Many described attempting to anticipate staff availability in order to avoid overburdening them with their continence care needs.
“Residents were extremely concerned for staff who they saw as ‘run off their feet. It’s so important that residents feel they are able to access help to reach and use the toilet when they need it, from staff who care and understand their needs. But unfortunately, our research showed in many instances residents don’t feel they have that access,” Professor Ostaszkiewicz said.
Professor Ostaszkiewicz and the NARI team thank the Continence Foundation of Australia for funding this project, and members of the Project Advisory Group, and expert advisors, who kindly and generously shared their expertise and were vital to the development of this model.