About this resource

This resource has been developed by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and is designed to help you support people who have incontinence or bowel and bladder problems.

Who is it for?

The resource is for registered nurses, nursing students, healthcare assistants (HCAs) and assistant practitioners working in any health care setting or specialism.

Our goal is to give you a greater understanding of your role in assessing and supporting people with incontinence.

Why was this resource developed?

Conditions affecting the bladder and bowel often go unreported and therefore undiagnosed. As these conditions can be managed, treated and sometimes cured, this resource has been created to help you better understand continence, what conditions can affect continence and what you can do to assess and support individuals with continence issues.

Learning outcomes

After reading this resource you should be able to:

  • explain how a healthy bladder and bowel works
  • outline the different types of incontinence, assessments, treatments and management solutions available
  • recognise the red flags
  • list the barriers to continence
  • demonstrate the confidence to have open and non-judgemental discussions about incontinence with an individual, their family and carers
  • understand the needs of someone with incontinence and the impact the condition can have on them
  • help the individual with incontinence to manage their condition and support their quality of life and maintain their dignity and privacy.


(1) ICI publication 2013, Incontinence. Prevalence data, page 81.

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