A major new study which reveals that healthcare providers could improve patient dignity and save millions if they adopt the right approach to continence care will be launched at the 5th Global Forum on Incontinence, being held on the theme of "Better care, better health - towards a framework for better continence solutions".
The report, Optimum Continence Service Specification, which involved multi-disciplinary experts from around the globe in collaboration with KPMG, outlines a number of evidence-based principles on how to best organise community care for people with incontinence, while at the same time saving costs for health and social care systems.
"Incontinence is an under-reported and under-treated problem that imposes a considerable burden on the quality of life of patients and their caregivers" stated Adrian Wagg, Professor of Healthy Aging at the Department of Medicine of the University of Alberta (Canada) and the report's lead author.
"Even if international and national clinical guidelines exist for incontinence, to date little effort has been put into studying how best to deliver the care for people with incontinence in the community. This is a serious limitation as most health and social care systems are under severe financial pressure and may not be able to afford the time or resources necessary to design a service specification for continence care delivery", he said.
The Service Specification recommends an integrated approach to continence care and defines a specific modular system designed to guide the patient through all the necessary phases from detection of the symptoms through to appropriate assessment and treatment.
Underlying principles include improving the process for detection and treatment; shifting the responsibility of basic continence care to continence nurse specialists in primary care, using a case co-ordinator to ensure collaborative working, connecting specialists with other parts of the care pathway; establishing accredited programmes of training for nurses and other health or social care professionals; establishing comprehensive and standardised assessment processes to meet the needs of patients and caregivers with regards to containment products; and making the use of technology integral to the delivery of continence care.
A health economic study done by the Erasmus University in The Netherlands to identify the economic impact of the implementation of the Optimal Continence Service Specification was also unveiled today. The study shows that an improved care pathway based on the principles from the Optimum Continence Service Specification, if applied to patients over 65 years of age with four co-morbidities in The Netherlands, could save the Dutch healthcare system €14 million over a three years period and save €106 million over the same time span, from a societal perspective.
Conference co-moderator, Ian Milsom, Professor of Obstetrics and Gyneacology, Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg commented: "Both studies presented today at the 5th Global Forum on Incontinence will contribute to finding a way forward to tackling the demographic challenge. By helping delivering better services, these principles will ease the pressure on health systems, support active and healthy ageing and ultimately improve the quality of life of millions of citizens around the world".
The summary of the Optimum Continence Service Specification Study is available on www.gfiforum.com.