Q: I have a resident with the diagnosis of dementia, who insists on flushing her disposable briefs down the toilet. That causes a huge flood on our floor, disturbing everyone. Any suggestions? 

A: I am sure you have probably tried many things already, so forgive me if I repeat some..

Something as easy as a sign in the bathroom may deter flushing. Say “STOP! Do not flush your underwear/briefs,” using whatever term the resident uses. If she refers to them as “underwear” and you post a sign about flushing “briefs,” it won’t work.

Shut the water off if it’s a private bathroom. If she tries to flush, nothing will happen. Of course, you will have to assign staff to check on her frequently in the event she needs to use the facilities.

Alternatively, use a commode, to prevent use of the toilet.

There is a product called Traptex with an almost funnel-like device that fits down into the toilet to prevent garments from being flushed. I know some facilities that have these standard in their toilets to prevent the unnecessary flushing of clothing or disposable briefs. Many facilities swear by them, saying they have saved their facility from water damage.

Just be sure that no matter what you try, it is OK with facility policies and state or federal regulations.

Also, care plan everything. Meet with the family if they are available to ask for suggestions. If you install the Traptex, also care plan it.

Educate the family and the resident. I know dementia residents may not remember, but explain to the resident what you are installing. Documentation is very important.

Count yourself lucky your resident is only flushing briefs. I once had a plumber as a resident. He took everything apart, including uninstalling toilets with the water running. He would confiscate every tool he could find to help himself succeed!