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Continence through Compassion and Care: Kate’s Story

World Continence Week 2021 is 21-27 June. As part of the celebrations, we caught up with Registered Nurse Kate Mackie, part of our Ageing Well team, who has recently qualified as Continence Nurse Specialist. 

Kate Mackie has been a registered nurse for 15 years, and part of our aged care service Ageing Well since August 2019. Within Ageing Well, Kate is responsible for clinical oversight, addressing clinical concerns such as medication management or wound care to ensure ongoing wellbeing in our clients. 

Kate’s journey to her new qualification began one day when searching for incontinence resources and care for one of her clients.  

“I was looking for a continence nurse to do an assessment, but I just couldn’t find one that wasn’t prohibitively expensive or didn’t carry a six-month waiting list,” Kate says.  

“After a day learning how little information and access there was in this area, I said to Leena (Vuorinen, Ageing Well manager) I wish I could just do it! And she immediately encouraged me to find out if this was possible.” 

Discouraged by the lack of practical placement and time constraints of a 12-month university certificate course, Kate decided to enrol instead in a Continence Nurse Specialist course at Hollywood Private Hospital in Perth, the only course of its kind in Australia. 

 

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Kate (back left) with her class, along with Lesley Pitman, Continence Nurse Specialist (front left) and Anne Green, Training and Development Manager (front right). 

 

The course, run for the last 30 years by 79-year-old Continence Nurse Specialist Lesley Pitman, features a highly competitive application process for the ten-student intake, and runs over four weeks full-time, including practical placement, theory and several assessments.  

As part of the course, Kate also got to learn from a range of professional speakers across a variety of specialisations, including urology, microbiology, gynaecology and sexual health.  

Kate, who graduated as Dux of the class, describes the course as “absolutely invaluable”, especially being able to access the wealth of experience and wisdom Lesley offered. 

“Lesley was so open and generous with her own experiences,” says Kate. “Through her attitude and personality, she instantly removed that stigma associated with incontinence.” 

It is this stigma that Kate hopes to break down through her ongoing work with both her clients and the community at large. 

“The most common misconception about incontinence is that it is age related, and that it is a normal part of ageing,” Kate explains. “That’s just not true. It common across all ages, it isn’t normal, and more often than not it’s treatable or manageable.” 

 

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Kate receiving her prize as Dux of the course from Leslie and Anne. 

 

Kate says the best way to break down this stigma is to simply give people living with incontinence the opportunity to talk about it. 

“With my new qualifications, I hope that people in the Deaf community who already know me will start to be more comfortable talking to me about any issues they might have, ask questions, and we can work together to improve their quality of life.” 

Kate will begin her work through introductory continence assessments with Ageing Well clients, and hopes to offer general information sessions in the near future.  

“The most important thing for me to begin is to let people know they now have me as a resource, and they’re not going to be judged or looked down upon for living with incontinence issues,” says Kate. 

 “Through the knowledge I gained from the course, I know that even if I can’t help directly, I can support indirectly through compassion, care and information, which is just as valuable.” 

 

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“You don’t have to put up with incontinence. There is something you can do about it.” 

 

Going forward, Kate says with a clear and urgent demand for Incontinence Nurse Specialists in the wider community, she hopes to expand the service beyond Ageing Well to the community at large.  

“You don’t have to put up with incontinence,” Kate says. “There is something you can do about it.” 

 

Find out more about Ageing Well by visiting deafservices.org.au/services/Ageing-Well 

 

Find out more about World Continence Week here: continence.org.au/world-continence-week  

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