Janie Thompson

Janie Thompson is the immediate past President of the Continence Nurses Society Australia and has over 20 years experience as a Nurse Continence Specialist. She works for Alfred Health Continence Service in Melbourne.

How did you become interested in the field of continence?

I was working as a district nurse and undertook a Graduate Diploma in Gerontology as I have always been passionate about caring for older people. I had gorgeous grandparents who I adored. I was then offered a continence promotion course which sat very well with my interest in gerontology. This lead to a role as a Clinical Nurse Consultant in Aged and Continence and ultimately to a wonderful career in the area of continence nursing.

I have worked in many different areas of continence nursing including in a major metropolitan hospital, a rehabilitation hospital and now in an outpatient/community service.

I am privileged to be able to improve the lives of people with continence issues on a daily basis. I am always thrilled when a person comes back for a review appointment and tells me how much better they are.

What are some of the ways the field has developed, or approaches within it changed, in your 20 years as a Nurse Continence Specialist?

The people we see now are so much better informed about their health. The older clients lead more active lives and are more socially engaged. While I have always had a holistic approach to continence care, this has added a new dimension. You need to work through all a client’s activities and make sure they have the skills and continence advice that allows them to continue doing what they enjoy.

There have also been major changes in technology related to incontinence. We now have access to ultrasound to view bladders and observe pelvic floor movement. Continence products have also greatly evolved. For example, 20 years ago there were few options for continence pads and their construction was quite basic. Today, continence products are highly developed and are highly absorbent without being bulky, are more comfortable to wear and kinder to skin.

Could you tell us a little bit about the Continence Nurses Society Australia (CoNSA)?

CoNSA is the special interest group for nurses and midwives in Australia who have specialized knowledge and skills in continence care, with branches across all states and territories. We provide education at a state level to our members. We promote continence nursing care

and are the advocates and professional voice on continence related issues impacting on nurses and midwives.

What do you think are the most effective ways to educate people about continence?

Continence education needs to come from many different directions and be present in many

different ways. People learn in different ways and, therefore, continence promotion needs

to be presented to accommodate this. I think the most important way to educate people, is to make them aware help is available and incontinence or continence issues are not normal.

This should come from primary health care via GPs, the media and community education.