Professional development opportunities in the field of incontinence

By ahhb
Sunday, 01 February, 2015

There are 4.8 million Australians aged 15 years and over presently affected by incontinence, and this number is expected to reach 6.5 million by 20301. The impacts on health professionals and aged care staff will be considerable, writes Maria Whitmore Special Projects Officer for the Continence Foundation of Australia.

A recent Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) report revealed that the number of aged care places in both residential facilities and community-based places has been increasing steadily, rising by 46 per cent during the past 10 years2.
Continence Foundation of Australia’s CEO Barry Cahill said skilling up the workforce was critical for staff as well as their patients, with staff morale, absenteeism and injury associated with an untrained workforce further contributing to the cost of healthcare 3.
“We need to ensure the workforce is ready to deal with the increasing numbers of people with incontinence. “And, they’ll need to be effective, not only in managing, but in diagnosing incontinence, which is caused by a number of factors,” Mr Cahill said.
The Continence Foundation of Australia provides many opportunities for health professionals and aged care workers to keep abreast of the latest developments in continence promotion, care and management.. Health professionals can learn and engage through its diverse professional development program which includes nationally accredited graduate certificate courses, professional forums and specialist programs.
Graduate Certificate in Continence Promotion and Management
This nationally accredited course, which is targeted towards registered and enrolled nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practitioners and other relevant health professionals is designed to enhance professional scope of practice, broaden current work place practice and create opportunities to move into new areas of clinical practice. The current self-directed mode of delivery allows access by a broader range of students regardless of geographic location and allows people to complete the program at a pace that suits their current lifestyle and workplace balance. It is expected that the course will require a study commitment of approximately 9 to 12 months.
More information is available at
Certificate II in Continence Promotion and Care
This nationally accredited course, which is run across metropolitan, regional and rural Australia, assists health workers identify, screen, manage and refer people affected by incontinence. The course is delivered in two modes:

  1. A one-day course for 20 participants, with an assessment component of approximately 30 hours study post course is available to the following disciplines:

    • Practice nurses;

    • Disability care workers

    • Community nurses

    • Residential aged care workers; and

    • Indigenous health workers.

  2. The course is also available by distance learning and takes approximately 40 hours to complete. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker courses will continue to be delivered face-to-face.

The Continence Foundation currently offers a limited amount of fully funded positions for the distance based Certificate II in Continence Promotion and Care.
More information is available at
Health professional forums - Every Body’s Business
These forums, for up to 150 participants, are held around the country on a regular basis and can have specific themes such as maternity, aged care, pelvic floor-safe exercise, or general continence management. Themes in the past have included: Continence Promotion: The importance of the Midwife (for midwives), Core Foundations (for fitness professionals about pelvic floor-safe exercises); Continence Promotion in Aged Care, and Getting Back to Basics (open to community nurses, practice nurses, registered and enrolled nurses, allied health professionals and personal care workers). Overseen by multidisciplinary working groups, the forums are delivered by local expert health professionals and are completed over a one-day period.
Australian Bladder Foundation Grants up to $20,000
Personnel employed in continence management can apply for an Australian Bladder Foundation grant from $5000 to $20,000 for research, health promotion, education or patient care improvements.
Video education for health professionals
The Continence Foundation has teamed up with a number of organisations and health experts to produce a series of short educational videos for health professionals. Topics include Parkinson ’s disease, prolapse, pregnancy and men and continence.
GP education
The Continence Foundation has partnered with ThinkGP to create accredited education modules for GPs and other health professionals to help in their assessment and management of incontinence. Two one-hour ACRRM and RACGP-accredited online courses, Management of Incontinence in General Practice and Bladder and Bowel Dysfunction in the Pre and Postnatal Periods, have been developed to help GPs, who are typically the first health professionals a person will see about their incontinence, which affects all age groups from early childhood to the elderly.
eContinence Paediatric Course
Specialist and non-specialist health professionals will soon be able to complete an online education course focussing on the diagnosis and management of incontinence in the paediatric population. The course, developed in collaboration with the International Children’s Continence Society, will be available early 2015.
Paediatric continence education forums
These forums attract Australian College of Nursing CPD points and are targeted to specialist and non-specialist continence health professionals with an interest in paediatric continence care. The forum topics include bowel dysfunction, bladder dysfunction, nocturnal enuresis and day and night wetting in children.
The Australian Continence Exchange (ACE)
ACE is an online information channel for health professionals to access resources, professional forums, directories, professional development opportunities, news and events. The target audience for ACE are continence specialists, including continence nurse advisors, continence and women’s health physiotherapists, and the non-specialist workforce, including practice nurses and general practitioners.
The annual National Conference on Incontinence
The annual National Conference on Incontinence is the largest multidisciplinary continence education event in Australia. Hosted by the Continence Foundation of Australia annually, the conference provides a platform for the latest research in the field of incontinence, featuring
national and international speakers. Nurses and physiotherapists working in rural and remote areas of Australia can apply for a National Conference Scholarship.
National Continence Helpline
Health professionals can receive advice, referrals and resources about the management of their patients’ incontinence by phoning the National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66), which is staffed by continence nurse advisors 8am-8pm AEST Monday to Friday. The Helpline is a free and confidential service for consumers, carers and health professionals, managed by the Continence Foundation of Australia on behalf of the Australian Government. The Helpline can also be accessed via the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450.
Incontinence information in other languages
To assist health professionals working with people from culturally and linguistically diverse communities, the Continence Foundation has developed web pages in 27 languages, each with links to 17 bilingual fact sheets - at . The Foundation has also produced new interpreting guidelines for interpreters working in a continence assessment, which can be downloaded at
Barry Cahill, CEO
Continence-Foundation-of-Australia?ÇÖs-CEO-Barry-CahillThe Continence Foundation of Australia is the peak national organisation working to improve the quality of life of all Australians affected by incontinence by:

  • working with consumers,  professionals and industry

  • facilitating access to  continence support services

  • providing evidence-based  information and advice,  and

  • building the capacity and  capability of the workforce

On behalf of the Australian Government, the Continence Foundation manages the National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66), a free and confidential service staffed by continence nurse advisors who provide advice, referrals and resources to consumers and health professionals.
1. Deloitte Access Economics - The economic impact of incontinence in Australia 2011.
2. AIHW - Residential aged care and aged care packages in the community 2011–12
3. Steel and Fonda (1995) Minimising the cost of urinary incontinence in nursing homes Pharmacoeconomics 7(3): 191 – 197
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