Toileting support for residents with incontinence.

Carer in white uniform helps senior man into a seat

Our bodies change as we age, and this may affect our ability to stay continent. Toileting preserves the dignity and independence of your residents, which increases their quality of life. It also leads to less waste, which is more sustainable and better for the environment. Here are a few strategies to that can help make toileting easier for carers and prevent incontinence in your residents.

Dos and Don’ts to facilitate toileting.

Younger male in casual clothing supports senior resident on a walk through their home.


Leave toilet door open and lights on at night
Make it easy for residents to find the toilet at night. Try light motion sensors that turn on automatically upon entering (amber-coloured lights will minimize sleep disturbances from the light).

Mark toilet, light switch and toilet seats with contrasting colours
Make the toilet door clearly visible and ensure the toilet light switch is well marked. A coloured and contrasting toilet seat, raised toilet chair or handrails, can also help with visibility and positioning.

Pay special attention to signs that a person needs to use the toilet
This is particularly important when caring for people with any cognitive impairment, as they might not be able to interpret the signals from the bladder and bowel themselves or know what to do when they need to go.

Make sure the resident’s clothes are easy to take off and put on
Senior residents may have impaired mobility and dexterity. Accidents can be avoided with practical clothes that are easy to pull on and off. If incontinence products are required, pants are a good choice to facilitate toileting and maintain independence.

Keep the toilet clean, tidy and safe
Ensure the toilet area is kept clean, hygiene articles are kept within reach, and that the person can easily call for assistance if needed.

Praise residents and remain positive
This is very important to be successful with toileting assistance, as it can be difficult for people to accept needing help with personal care. Promote dignity by providing privacy, and interactions that make the person feel comfortable, in control and valued.

Woman in her 40s shows a smartly-dressed senior woman something on her phone.


Skip a scheduled toilet visit
If you skip a scheduled toilet visit, you increase the risk of the person having an accident, which can affect their sense of dignity and self-esteem. If an accident happens, simply say something reassuring like “anyone could have an accident, I´ll help you”.

Only help with toileting at set times
Regular routines are good, but you should also be flexible and make sure that assistance is available when it’s needed. Continually look out for signs that they may need to go throughout the day. Most people need to go to the toilet 4-8 times during daytime, and sometimes at night if they are over the age of 60. An average toileting schedule includes visits on waking up in the morning, after breakfast, around lunchtime, in the afternoon, in the evening and before bed.

Replace the toilet visit with an incontinence product
A pad should never replace a toilet visit. Keep encouraging and helping the resident to the toilet when needed. If they need incontinence products, choose an individually suited product type in the right size and absorbency level, and make sure it’s attached securely to avoid discomfort and skin chafing as well as to prevent leakages.

Icon of person sitting on a toilet.

More tips for emptying the bladder

  • Don’t rush. Elderly persons might have difficulties with urination, so they need to take a little longer – and change position a couple of times - to make sure the bladder is completely empty. Be patient and help them stay calm and relaxed.
  • Help the resident find a good sitting posture that facilitates emptying the bladder by supporting the feet and enabling the person to lean forward.
  • Help them stand up and sit down a couple of time to help with any difficulties emptying the bladder (this is sometimes called double or triple voiding).
  • In case the resident is frail or thin, you can use a soft pillow-ring to make the toilet seat comfortable.

Related reading

Audited by Josefine Grandin, District nurse, urotherapist, 2022-09-28