May 22, 2018
Millions of Canadian women experience some urinary incontinence and it can deeply affect their quality of life. For those that do seek help, they often face long wait times to see physicians specialized in urogynecology, and as such, are unable to access education and treatment that could significantly enhance their lives and general well-being in a timely fashion.
What originally began in November 2016 as a one-year pilot project through the support of donors, including a significant gift from Shoppers Drug Mart, the nurse-led Continence Clinic in the Women’s Ambulatory Care space at Victoria Hospital is now a permanent service offering.
Since its inception, the clinic has provided care to over 140 patients that would have faced a two-year waitlist without this service. In fact, the demand for the clinic has been so great that LHSC is in the process of adding a second nurse continence advisor and another half-day per week to the clinic’s current schedule.
The purpose of the nurse-led clinic is to better fill the gap in service for patients that would otherwise be facing a lengthy wait to see a urogynecologist. It allows the hospital to significantly decrease wait times for women to receive an initial assessment, and in turn facilitates quicker access to a urogynecologist for those patient requiring more involved interventions.
For those patients that can be helped with a more conservative, non-operative treatment plan, the introduction of this nurse-led clinic provides them with much faster access to that critical education, biofeedback sessions, and advice.
“Non-invasive treatments for incontinence can range from pelvic floor exercises and biofeedback sessions, to changing bladder habits, stopping smoking and watching weight,” says Martha Gleason, nurse continence advisor at LHSC. “For many women, there is a lot they can do on their own to help their incontinence without needing to see a physician specialist and that is where our clinic comes in. Every case is unique, so we work together with the patient to figure out exactly what is causing the issue and find solutions that will help.”
Incontinence is not a life threatening condition, but it can often be a very isolating experience, as many women feel they need to limit their daily routines. Women experiencing urinary incontinence may feel discomfort, embarrassment and a fear of taking part in work, social and leisure activities, and will bring about unwelcome changes within her life as a result.
Based on the quality of life score surveys patients complete before their initial assessment and at their 12-week follow-up appointment, the clinic is making a marked difference. Data demonstrates a nearly 13 per cent average quality of life improvement over the first 12 weeks, which is quite notable.
Gleason adds, “By introducing this clinic, we are getting women the help they need faster and are often able to quickly eliminate many of the obstacles and feelings that were negatively impacting their lives.”
Community support of the Continence Clinic
Beyond the generous support of Shoppers Drug Mart, who donated $500,000 in 2015 to support the Women’s Care Program at LHSC, the community has also come together to support the Continence Clinic.
In 2017 a new community event called Stop the Leak was held at Dark Horse Winery in Grand Bend. The event featured local wine and unique live and silent auctions as well as a fashion show featuring chic and comfortable fashions from Sharon’s of Hyde Park worn by philanthropic leaders in our community such as Terry Zavitz, Chair of London Health Sciences Foundation’s Women’s Care Campaign Cabinet. The event raised more than $45,000 for the urogynecology program and the 2018 event – to be held Sun., Oct. 14, 2018 at the London Hunt and Country Club – aims to top that total. Learn more at lhsf.ca/stoptheleak.
LHSC’s Women’s Continence Clinic is decreasing wait times for initial assessment and helping to more quickly eliminate the obstacles and negative feelings often associated with urinary incontinence.