May 2, 2023

We Are Northern: This is the Continence Service team

At Northern Health, the Continence Service is a major public health service available to both adults and children. The clinicians working within the continence service specialise in the management of bladder and bowel dysfunction. The service provides assessment, diagnosis, management, education and support for the promotion of continence to clients.

The multidisciplinary team consists of two medical consultants, four allied health staff and six nursing staff members, who work across Northern Health and can provide:

  • Comprehensive continence assessment
  • Client and carer education counselling and support
  • Bladder retraining programs, nocturia assessment and management, toileting programs and bowel regulation programs
  • Equipment/aids prescription
  • Catheter education
  • Medication assessment
  • Product selection, facilitating access to trial products and advice
  • Health promotion in relation to lifestyle and behaviours
  • Physiotherapy management programs for urinary or faecal incontinence, incorporating pelvic floor muscle assessment.

Consumers of the services also includes patients who are NDIS participants with additional needs and who require continence nursing support as part of their NDIS plan.

The team provides holistic management for many older patients who have dementia and for their carers, as well as patients which are diagnosed with neurological diseases, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis.

The team also manage patients with mental health issues and those with increasingly complex social needs.

One of the founders of the Continence Service is Santha Tisseverasinghe, Continence Physiotherapist. Over the years, she has mentored many staff who have rotated through the service, including many continence registrars.

“I started at the Bundoora Continence Clinic in October 1997, in a team consisting of only one continence nurse consultant, one geriatrician and myself.  Since then, we have grown and become part of the Northern Health network and have now expanded to other campuses such as Broadmeadows Hospital and Craigieburn Centre,” said Ms Tisseverasinghe.

“When I first started, our patients were mainly older women at the age of 60 years and older, and only for symptoms urinary incontinence. Today, we see a wider population group inclusive of younger patients and different genders, with various conditions.”

Beverly Leiper has worked as a Paediatric Continence Nurse for almost 50 years, making a significant contribution to the service and to her patients. Ms Leiper has made the decision to retire from her long nursing career at the end of June 2023.

“I returned to Northern Health in 2007 as part of the Paediatric Developmental Team at the newly opened Craigieburn Centre. I have worked in many roles since then, but all have involved working with children and families. Being able to improve the quality of life for children and supporting their families to achieve this for their children is my passion and what motivates me,” said Ms Leiper.

“I am looking forward to my retirement and am excited about the opportunities that may present themselves. I will take some time to ‘smell the roses’ and then will look for some volunteer work – with children and families of course.”

In 2023, the Continence Service team is excited to be teaching new staff members the skills required to be a continence nurse, with the team recently welcoming a new Registered Nurse Parmeet Kaur. The team are also looking forward to promoting continence awareness to staff and the community during World Continence Awareness Week from 19- 25 June.

Thank you to our Continence Service team for all your hard work and dedication.

Pictured (L-R): Jonathan Marriott, Geriatrician, Michael Farber, Geriatrician, Christine Sumper, Coordinator of Continence Service, Parmeet Kaur, Continence Nurse Consultant, Santha Tisseverasinghe, Physiotherapy, Eva Stachnik, Registrar Geriatrics and Femy Jacob, Continence Nurse Consultant