This week marks World Continence Week – an annual campaign aiming to raise awareness for continence related issues.
Continence issues are a significant health problem in the UK and is more common than people might think. In fact, adult incontinence products are the fastest-growing retail disposable hygiene category.
A lack of awareness, particularly amongst men, is creating challenges for sufferers and preventing them from having a normal lifestyle. One in four British males over 40 is likely to experience some form of incontinence in their lifetime, but few are willing to talk about it.
Continence problems can affect both genders and is caused by range from health conditions such as increased pressure on the bladder from pregnancy or obesity, neurological conditions and connective tissue disorders, to environmental factors such as inaccessible or unsafe toilet facilities.
People with continence problems need access to disposal units, but washrooms, especially male ones, often aren’t equipped with the facilities continence sufferers require. The lack of waste disposal facilities in public toilets across the UK not only poses a hygiene risk, it perpetuates the taboo around incontinence, forcing many to suffer in silence.
Following the Coronavirus pandemic consumer expectations around hygiene are likely to be much higher. This represents an ideal opportunity to upgrade washroom facilities to deliver the highest level of hygiene, and in the process ensure that the needs of continence suffers are met.
Best practice is to provide specific waste bins within every washroom cubicle whether they are male, female or gender neutral. Failure to provide sufficient facilities means continence sufferers may feel they have no choice but to flush their product, or take their waste home – a degrading experience that no one should be subject to.
Although there is currently no legal requirement to support incontinence in public washrooms in the UK, increasing global awareness of the issue is putting pressure on legislators to recognise the needs of this typically ‘invisible disability’. Germany, for example, has put regulations in place to ensure that at least one hygiene bin is available per male washroom – a requirement more nations should consider.
Hygiene facilities have often been neglected in washrooms, especially when it comes to the needs of incontinence sufferers. This World Continence Week, everyone should think about how small considerations could have a big impact to help ensure that no one suffers in silence.