Incontinence is a highly distressing and stigmatising condition that affects many people living with dementia. Up to 38% of people with a diagnosis of dementia experience incontinence of urine and up to 27% experience faecal incontinence. These rates increase significantly for people with dementia residing in aged care homes, where up to 90% need help to maintain continence or to manage incontinence.

The highly personal and sensitive nature of incontinence makes the task of caring for anyone with incontinence challenging, particularly if the person with dementia does not understand or appreciate the nature of the care.

Incontinence and dementia are the top two contributing factors to the decision to seek formal care in an aged care home, but incontinence is no less challenging to manage in this setting.

The project, Dignity in continence care in people with dementia and incontinence: Translating principles that protect dignity is funded by the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration through the Queensland University of Technology.

The project involved the development, dissemination, and evaluation of a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) about dignity-based continence care. Course materials were developed after consulting with carers, people living with dementia, and health professionals. The research team interpreted the information in collaboration with instructional designers at Deakin University, Global Studio who had experience in the design and delivery of FutureLearn MOOCs. The MOOC continues to be delivered through the FutureLearn platform.

The MOOC aims to optimise safety, respect and dignity for both carers and people living with dementia and provides information about the physical and psychosocial aspects of toileting, promoting continence, and managing incontinence. While the course has been designed for family carers, many people working with older people in aged care and home care settings will find the information useful in their day-to-day work.

The free MOOC is conducted entirely online through FutureLearn (Deakin University) over five weeks with approximately three hours of learning per week. Learners can share ideas with other learners and course educators and join in with active discussions. Learners may begin the course at any time and no prior experience or qualifications are required.

Find out more about the free online MOOC titled Caregiving, Dementia and Incontinence.

For further information on the project contact Professor Joan Ostaszkiewicz: [email protected]