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Managing incontinence

There are a range of products that can help manage or relieve incontinence – and small adjustments to the home and bathroom can make a big difference.
3 min read
In this article
Seeking help from a GP Incontinence pads and other products Easy access to the toilet

Seeking help from a GP

Increased frequency of urination can be caused by physical changes due to ageing or a medical condition. If it’s not managed, incontinence can occur. This can become an embarrassing problem for the person concerned, but there is help available.


There are numerous products that can help manage or relieve symptoms of incontinence. Additionally, small adjustments to the home and bathroom can be beneficial.


If you’re experiencing increased frequency of urination or pain on passing urine, it’s important to speak to a GP. They will be able to diagnose or rule out any underlying medical condition and provide treatment. It may be that an infection can be treated with a course of antibiotics, or it could be related to the use of current medication.


If the issue persists, you may need the assistance of a specialist to manage your condition. Ask for a referral to a continence nurse, who will be able to provide a personalised approach to self-management.

Incontinence pads and other products

Many products are available to help people who are living with incontinence. Disposable incontinence pads, which help to prevent discomfort and rashes, can be used on a daily basis. It’s also possible to get incontinence pads on prescription, but likely only up to four pads a day. Regular delivery can be set up. Washable incontinence underwear and nightwear products can also be helpful.


It may also be necessary to consider bed and chair protection, such as chair pads or mattress protectors. These are usually machine washable and are available in a variety of shapes and sizes.


Bed alarms can also be worth considering – these alert a relative or a carer if there has been an accident. 


As well as using these products in the home, you will need to bear them in mind if you’re out and about. Think about keeping a supply of pads in your car ready for trips, for example, and it may be worth applying for a radar key, which is a large, universal key that opens disabled toilets throughout the UK.


Easy access to the toilet

If you have mobility issues and use walking equipment to get around, the first thing to do is to get help checking the access to the lavatory in your home. 

  • Are there any potential hazards, such as steps or furniture? 
  • Is the lighting adequate in or around the bathroom? 
  • Is there a bathroom on every floor of the property and, if not, is it easy enough to get to a toilet from every part of the home?

Urine bottles or a commode can help in the short term, alleviating immediate concerns while you consider other solutions such as the installation of a second bathroom or a wet room. You might be able to get financial support for home adaptations from the local authority or elsewhere for such adaptations.


If you use mobility equipment, make sure there is adequate space for it in and around the bathroom or toilet cubicle. Simple adaptations – such as changing the direction a bathroom door opens, for example – can make all the difference.


If there is no convenient way to install another toilet using the existing water facilities, a wide range of lavatories is available with built-in macerators and pumps, which can drain to waste pipes.


It may be necessary to make some adaptations to the bathroom, such as providing grab rails and ensuring the height of the toilet seat is appropriate.

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Further reading

Bathroom adaptations

We explain your options for making bathing easier – including walk-in baths, walk-in showers and wet rooms.

Free prescriptions

People over the age of 60 are eligible for free prescriptions. Read about prescription payment and collection options.

Last updated: 20 May 2019