June 21, 2023

Healing through stories of lived experience

This week, Northern Health recognises World Continence Week. The focus is on raising awareness about incontinence, which affects over five million Australians. By using stories of lived experience, it is hoped to not only empower the sharer, but encourage others to be bold enough to seek treatment.

Christine Sumper, Continence Nurse Consultant and Team Leader of Northern Health’s Continence Service explains, “The importance of sharing stories of the lived experience of having incontinence helps us to break down stereotypes and stigma surrounding the condition.  For many, the realisation that they’re not alone is the first step toward seeking help.”

Incontinence of either the bladder or bowel, effects one in four Australians over the age of 15, with statistics showing it’s by no means an older person’s condition. Around 46 per cent of people who experience incontinence are under the age of 50 and over 1.34 million Australian boys and men experience incontinence.

Incontinence can affect people at any age, but in many cases, it can be prevented, better managed or even cured. “Breaking down the secrecy of concealment and shameful feelings that act as barriers to seeking help is our aim,” Ms Sumper added.

The Continence Foundation of Australia has a number of initiatives running throughout the week, including a new podcast series, videos and a lived experience panel webinar on Wednesday, 21 June at 5.30 pm. For further details please click here.

For help and more information about incontinence, call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for free, confidential advice from Nurse Continence Specialists, Monday to Friday 8 am to 8 pm AEST.

Pictured above: team members from the Northern Health Continence Service; Katrina Ziebarth, Femy Jacob, Christine Sumper and Tara Webb.