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advocate, or in some cases, access to an interpreter
service, particularly in regional cities and country areas.
"When I work with an interpreter, I try to look at my
patient and address my questions to them and not to the
interpreter," Ms Thompson said. "I try to engage them
and try to gain their trust and confidence, which is always
more challenging when there is an interpreter involved
and the patient becomes very focused on the interpreter."
A research literature review by the Continence Foundation
highlighted a lack of Australian studies regarding the
prevalence of incontinence in our CALD communities.
Most research has been conducted overseas. However, the
review found there are common risk factors for developing
incontinence across ethnic communities and identified the negative
impact incontinence can have on the quality of life.
Continence Foundation research shows one in four Australians
over the age of 15 will experience bladder or bowel control
problems at some stage in their lives. And while incontinence
should never be viewed as a natural part of ageing, studies have
found that the condition is more severe in more than 40 per cent
of people aged over 75 years, and that 77 per cent of nursing home
residents are affected by bladder and bowel control problems.
Given the prevalence and the common risk factors, it is
reasonable to expect that large numbers of men and women
from CALD backgrounds are also affected by incontinence.
Unfortunately, this means that there are many people potentially
suffering in silence, unaware that help is available.
According to Janie Thompson, there is an obvious need to better
manage the issues related to incontinence in CALD communities.
"All communities have the right to have their continence
issues addressed, regardless of what their cultural background
is," Ms Thompson said.
"Incontinence affects people in so many ways: physically,
socially, psychosocially and financially. For people to integrate in
their local community, they need to feel confident to go out and
not fear incontinence."
MAKING CALD GROUPS A PRIORITY
As part of World Continence Week (June 24-30), the Continence
Foundation will reach out to CALD communities to improve
their health literacy of incontinence and encourage people to
seek help. Part of this involves improving the understanding and
awareness of the barriers discussed among service providers and
During World Continence Week, the Foundation will launch its
Incontinence Outreach in CALD Communities project, central
to which has been the development of dedicated webpages on
its website, for non-English speaking communities and health
professionals working with these communities.
The pages will include video content and will initially be
developed in Chinese and Vietnamese languages, with a view to
expanding this online initiative to other languages. The webpages will
provide links to new bilingual fact sheets, available in 21 languages.
The fact sheets have been designed to enable health professionals to
know exactly what information is being provided to their clients, as
well as providing information to family members and carers.
Another initiative will provide interpreting tools for health
professionals and interpreters to use within a continence
assessment setting. One fact sheet will assist health professionals
in how to work with interpreters; another will help interpreters
understand how to best work with the health professional in
assessing incontinence. This will also include a common glossary
of incontinence-related terms.
In addition to this, the Continence Foundation's national
media and advertising program in mainstream and ethno-specific
media will help reinforce awareness of the campaign and prompt
people to seek help.
HOW TO HELP
Health professionals and community care staff working with people
from different ethnic communities, particularly ageing clients, can
play an important role in improving the quality of life for
their clients. Not only can they identify and support clients
with continence problems, they can also ensure they
receive the same access to information and treatment of
incontinence as people from English-speaking backgrounds.
We are fortunate in Australia to have specialist
continence clinics, many of which have access to CALD-
specific resources to better assist clients, such as the
Caulfield Continence Service.
Janie Thompson says it is important to have links
to the different CALD communities in the local area to
ensure you are communicating with them regularly and
getting feedback on the service you provide.
"Having access to staff who provide education for
different CALD groups is helpful, especially when
working with smaller or emerging CALD communities. We are
lucky to have staff who are from different CALD backgrounds to
help us plan the care we provide." n
Barry Cahill is chief executive officer of the Continence Foundation
The Continence Foundation's free National Continence Helpline
(1800 33 00 66) can also be accessed via the Telephone
Interpreter Service on 131 450. The caller nominates their
preferred language and is connected to an interpreter who can
contact the Helpline and translate the information.
The National Continence Helpline is staffed 8am-8pm Monday
to Friday by continence nurse advisors who provide free advice,
resources and referrals to local services.
Further information, including access to the specially
developed web pages for CALD communities, is available at
www.australianageingagenda.com.au | 47
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