Do the incontinence products you use hold water—and more?

As America ages, the problem of incontinence will affect millions of Americans; high-quality, high-performance products will not be a price point but a necessity. If a disposable undergarment doesn’t do the job, it costs money, caregiver time and emotional upset.

These undergarments have evolved in recent years from the basic diaper shape with tabs to the more dignified pull-ups. Now, in an effort to mainstream the disposable garment, they are available in colors, feminine prints and masculine designs.

But it’s not just style—it’s function that’s important. An NAFC council that convened in 2010 to investigate the products and vendors used by state Medicaid waiver recipients has issued its recommendations to ensure quality in these absorbent products. While their recommendations focus on products that are provided and paid for by the state to Medicaid waiver recipients, the quality standards promoted can be applicable to products used in hospitals, nursing homes and other LTC settings.

The recommendations cover eight characteristics, among them:

  • Rewet—A measure of the product’s ability to withstand multiple incontinent episodes.
  • Rate of acquisition—A measure of the speed at which urine is wicked away from the skin.
  • Safety—None of the components of the absorbent product should be listed as “unsafe” by any federal regulatory agency.
  • Breathable zones—Absorbent products should have an acceptable minimum air flow in the side “wings” to allow heat and perspiration to escape.

The complete draft of recommendations is available on the NAFC website. 

The recommendations are being publicly vetted for comment until early September and final recommendations will be released by year’s end.

These recommendations will benefit people with incontinence issues. Eric Rovner, MD, professor of urology at the Medical University of South Carolina says, “These guidelines are equally important to guard against waste, foolish spending and fraudulent activities.

While nursing homes are not the focus of the recommendations, the practices and guidelines can be helpful in assessing the quality of the products used in long-term care settings.

Topics: Clinical