Incontinence is quickly becoming one of Australia’s largest health issues with approximately 1 in 4 Australians experiencing some form of bladder and/or bowel control problems. Continence problems affect both the young and old as well as both males and females. Having not only a financial impact but also a direct impact on self-esteem, dignity and level of independence.

Purpose of continence clinics

Continence Clinics are a specialised service run by specialist Health Professionals in order to promote better continence care in the community.Generally, they are staffed by a team consisting of a Urologist/s (Doctor specialising in the Urinary system), Continence Physiotherapist/s (Physiotherapists with a specialist interest in continence issues), Continence Nurse Consultant/s (Nurses with a specialist interest in continence issues) and Clinical Psychologist/s (Psychologists that can help people deal with medical issues). The Clinic staff provide information, education and advice about bladder and bowel control problems to patients and their families, care givers, health professionals and special needs groups.

Specific areas of focus include:

  • continence health promotion, education and training programs;
  • information, counselling and support services;
  • strategies to prevent continence issues;
  • books and reading material related to continence;
  • unbiased treatment information; and
  • research in continence and incontinence management.

Where can I find a Continence Clinic?

Continence Clinics are available in each state of Australia. Some clinics even offer home based and outreach services so Clinic staff can come out and visit you at home.Advice can also be given by phoning Continence Helplines.Continence help lines are staffed by trained Continence Nurse Advisors, so they are a valuable free information source and can also provide a referral letter to attend a local Continence Clinic if required (see Continence Foundation of Australia).

More information about Continence Clinics in your area.

Seeking treatment at a Continence Clinic

To be seen in a Continence Clinic, you must first have a referral. Generally referrals are accepted from many sources including:

  • Medical Practitioners e.g. General Practitioner (GP);
  • Health Care Agency;
  • Residential Care Facilities; and/or
  • Self-referrals or referrals from family members/significant others.

However, the referral requirements may differ from Clinic to Clinic. Some Clinics will only accept referrals from a GP or Specialist Medical Practitioner so it is best to contact your local Continence Clinic to be advised of their specific requirements.

What does a referral include?

The referral should include several pieces of key information including:

  • Demographic details such as contact numbers for yourself, your GP and next of kin as well as the need for an interpreter;
  • Relevant medical history i.e. do you suffer from any other medical conditions;
  • Details about the continence problem e.g. symptoms, duration and/or any precipitating factors;
  • Details about any investigations that have been performed such as ultrasounds or urodynamics;
  • Your perception on how the continence problem impacts on your life;
  • Information relating to your care situation i.e. do you live at home independently versus being cared for in an Aged Care Facility;
  • Your functional status e.g. ability to mobilise and complete activities of daily living; and
  • Any risks that may affect staff safety.

It may also be useful to provide a bladder/bowel diary. This is a record of the number of times you urinate each day, when you have leaks and the number of times and types of bowel movements you have in a day.

What happens when the Clinic receives my referral?

Once a Continence Clinic receives a referral it is processed in a timely and appropriate manner and you should receive acknowledgement that the referral has been received either by phone or letter. You may also be contacted to provide further information if required. Referrals are generally prioritised according to need.


  1. National Ageing Research Institute. 2004. Service Guidelines for Victorian Continence Clinic Services. Accessed 20th April 2014. [URL Link]
  2. Continence Advisory Service of WA Inc. Undated. What is Incontinence? Accessed 20th April 2014 [URL Link]
  3. Continence Foundation of Australia. Resource Centres. 2014. Accessed 20th April 2014 [URL Link]
  4. Alfred Health. Caulfield Continence Service. 2014. Accessed 3rd May 2014 [URL Link]
  5. Continence Foundation of Australia. What can parents do about bedwetting. 2014. Accessed 3rd May 2014 [URL Link]
  6. Department of Health. Princess Margaret Hospital bedwetting (enuresis) service. Accessed 3rd May 2014 [URL Link]
  7. Using a bladder diary or a bowel diary. Continence Foundation of Australia. 2010. Accessed 7th May 2014. [URL Link]

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