There are many misconceptions about urinary catheters, how they work, and who may need them. One of the main issues around catheters is incorrect insertion which can lead to infection and other health complications.
Sometimes, people with disability may need to use catheters because they may not be able to urinate on their own, which can cause concerns such as kidney failure. If this is the case, support workers and carers are needed to provide support with catheters.
A catheter, or urinary catheter, is a tube that is inserted into the bladder to help with urine drainage.
The tube is then attached to a drainage bag, which is made of plastic and is usually strapped to a person’s thigh to keep it in place. Since the process of inserting a catheter is quite invasive, only qualified health professionals, such as doctors or nurses, can do this.
Urinary catheters are used for many reasons, including empowering individuals to have more control over their bodies and relieving painful urinary retention.
Most support workers and carers are required to have some knowledge of the anatomy involved in catheter care.
This means the urinary tract which consists of:
The lower urinary tract that has the
There are some indicators that suggest a person may need or use a catheter. The indicators of a catheter vary by person and depend on their unique support needs.
Some examples of indicators of catheters include:
Contrary to popular belief, catheters are known to have existed as early as 3000 B.C. Today, the most common types of catheters are:
As mentioned above, support workers and carers are sometimes required to provide support to people with disabilities who use catheters. Where this happens, they must know how to appropriately care for someone with a catheter.
This means they have to ensure that:
The main thing when it comes to catheter care is ensuring the person is not in pain and is comfortable, while maintaining hygiene— hygiene is crucial.
Note: support workers and carers should only insert or remove catheters if they are trained to do so by a doctor or nurse. Usually, doctors and nurses are the ones who insert or remove them.
Under the NDIS Practice Standards, support workers must be reasonably trained in providing catheter care including changing and management under the direction of a qualified health professional.
Service providers must also have appropriate policies and procedures in place related to the provision of catheter support. It is reasonably expected that support workers follow these policies and procedures to ensure continuity of supports and to meet compliance.
etrainu has partnered with Essential Skills Training to deliver the Complex Care eLibrary, a suite of courses aimed at providing training under key concepts of the NDIS Practice Standards. The Catheter Care course provides support workers with a detailed understanding of how catheters work and how to support someone who needs one.
Urinary catheters and those who use them require complex care needs. Knowing this, support workers and service providers must be able to meet those needs by being trained in the care and management of catheters.
Above all else, support workers and carers must ensure they always follow the advice and direction of health professionals involved in the care of people with disability.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP): Ins and outs of urinary catheters
Essential Skills Training RTO: Catheter Care
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