Wed 29, May 2019

This week, Carers Week, acknowledges the 2.8 million carers who are doing work that would otherwise cost the country $60 billion each year.

These 2.8 million at-home carers are looking after the most vulnerable in our society, including approximately140,000 people who need help with bladder or bowel control.

We know the care needs of people with incontinence are much higher than those of others needing care. At-home carers living in remote and rural communities are further disadvantaged, often having to contend with physical isolation, fewer services and the large distances involved in accessing these services.

The 2009 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report, Incontinence in Australia, revealed there were nearly 73,000 primary carers looking after people with severe incontinence; the majority of the carers female (81%), most (73%) spending 40 or more hours each week caring, and more having their sleep interrupted (42%) than other primary carers (19%).

There’s also a financial cost; the productivity loss to people who work unpaid as carers of people with incontinence is estimated to be $2.7 billion annually.  And there’s an emotional cost; we know these carers are twice as likely to report stress-related illnesses compared to other carers.

To draw attention to the plight of carers of people with incontinence, the Continence Foundation of Australia has developed a number of new resources for carers of people with incontinence, such as a carer guidebook, dedicated web pages and a series of videos

The Continence Foundation of Australia has also recently introduced a number of initiatives that aim to make its information and resources more accessible to the one in five Australians living with disabilities and their carers.

They include:

The Continence Foundation’s chief executive Rowan Cahill said support and recognition for the extraordinary contribution carers made to society was long overdue.

“If we want people to be cared for in their own homes longer, then carers need to be better supported through resources and education, preparing people for the challenges they face and reassuring them help is available,” Ms Cockerell said.

Carers and health professionals around Australia can phone the National Continence Helpline (1800 33 00 66), which  is staffed 8am-8pm (AEST) Monday to Friday by continence nurse advisors. They can provide advice, referrals and resources to consumers, carers and health professionals. Further information is also available at

  1. ABS (2012) Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers.    
  2. Access Economics (2010) The Economic Value of Informal Care in 2010.  
  3. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2009), Incontinence in Australia            
  4. (Deloitte Access Economics’ 2011 report, The economic impact of incontinence in Australia.)