Professor Joan Ostaszkiewicz at the National Ageing Research Institute has won a best research paper prize for her work on continence care in aged care homes.

Professor Ostaszkiewicz (pictured above) was the recipient of a $5,000 funding prize to conduct the research and last month was awarded the Barry Cahill Travel Scholarship for the Best Paper prize at the National Conference on Incontinence in Melbourne.

Almost three-quarters of aged care residents in Australia live with urinary incontinence and the negative impacts associated with the condition, which can drastically affect quality of life for older people.

However, despite the high prevalence of cases, incontinence is a topic all-too-often overlooked and ignored, said Professor Ostaszkiewicz.

“We found that there was inadequate research into the lived experience of people with continence care needs in Australian residential aged care.”

Among NARI’s findings, was that aged care residents would worry that staff would not be able to respond in time to their need for toilet assistance. The research showed that – rather than bothering staff with their continence care needs – many residents would instead anticipate their availability.

“Residents were extremely concerned for staff who they saw as run off their feet,” said Professor Ostaszkiewicz. “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 like they have that access.”

Best practice model of continence care

As previously reported, Professor Ostaszkiewicz’s study was part of a larger program of research, funded by the Continence Foundation of Australia. That resulted in the development of a best practice model of continence care in residential aged care settings.

The document recommends that continence care should be:

  • person-centred through supported shared decision-making
  • clinically informed through an assessment process
  • informed by the best available evidence
  • protects a resident’s dignity
  • optimises a resident’s functional abilities
  • timely and responsive
  • inclusive and respectful of a resident’s culture, diversity, identity and life experiences
  • provided by an appropriately trained and skilled workforce.

“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,” said Professor Ostaszkiewicz.

Main image: Professor Joan Ostaszkiewicz

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