How to do it... Incontinence care

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How to do it... Incontinence care
How to do it... Incontinence care
Incontinence care products and programs require a large portion of a facility's resources. That makes choosing the right ones vital —and taking the right steps to make choices highly crucial. Providers need to recognize their resident population's needs. Then, they must not only identify appropriate products but also “audition” them the right way. Experts here advise how providers can screen products, and what they can expect from vendors before making selections.

1 - It all starts with engaging caregivers “to re-think incontinence and focus on resident-centered care,” says Dave Burleton, clinical marketing segment manager for Direct Supply. “This is a shift in the caregivers' mindset from reacting to an unavoidable part of growing old, to pro-actively working with their resident to reduce or eliminate incontinence accidents from happening.”

This leads to deciding upfront what “success” will mean with your incontinence program, he adds. It should be something “attainable and appropriate for each resident.”

2 - Before speaking with sales representatives about products, look for information online, suggests Ed Winiarski, director of marketing, senior care for RF Technologies. Most companies have Web sites that will yield a lot of valuable information.

Remember: You want to learn from a vendor but also be able to compare more information than you might get in person.

3 - When you find an interesting product you might want to use, ask for a trial period from the vendor, Winiarski says.

“Put the product into the environment for a period of 30 days and analyze it. It's important to make sure that the product is easy to use and effective,” he explains.”

“Having an effective trial and ongoing clinical support and education is key. Providers will get a true sense of what kind of support they can expect.”

4 - While the suggested length of a trial period varies, a variety of residents must be included, notes Rick Finlayson, vice president of marketing for Attends.

“You need to be doing it on at least 10 different residents, or on an entire wing of a building. Get an idea of how (a product) performs with the staff,” he says. “Try for a couple of weeks to a month. If somebody (a vendor) is coming into your facility to request that you try their product, by all means negotiate some sort of test period. At the bare minimum, if there are 10 to 14 residents for two weeks, you should expect the product would be free for that project.”

5 - Product performance is a big key, but so is the breadth of options.

“Briefs are just part of a program you need to look at. You also need to look at how much product selection there is,” Finlayson says. “You need a selection from light incontinence pads up to a full range of brief sizes. And if you can avoid putting them in briefs, all the better.”

6 - Cost—or at least the initial cost—should not be your biggest determinant in choosing product, several sources said.

“I would suggest that they look at the average cost of operation, per day per resident, rather than just looking at the up-front cost,” says RF Technologies' Winiarski. “It's important to do more in-depth research than just the price. That's my biggest suggestion.

“They also need to look at what their needs are going to be in the future, and how this product can be adapted.”

7 - Along those lines, Finlayson reminds: “You need to be careful because cheaper is not necessarily better, nor necessarily cheaper. Lots of times you'll spend more money in laundry costs, or you have worse skin treatments to perform.”

When performing your trial run, be sure to measure skin health, and any breakdown that might occur, he emphasizes. It might be difficult to gauge with only 10 users, but it's something operators must check, since 60 or 70 residents in a 100-bed facility might need some sort of help with continence care, he notes. Additionally, gauge whether you are performing more bed-linen changes than usual during any audition period, he says.

8 - Any laundry test should last at least a couple of weeks, says Lou Gostino, vice president of Harbor Linen. During this time, check pad absorbency, drying time, size, content and “total cost of ownership,” he suggests.

“It is much more cost-effective to utilize an underpad that dries quickly, thereby reducing electricity and out-of-use time,” he says. 

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