Caring for someone with incontinence. We’re here to help.*

Supporting a family member or friend with incontinence can be confronting. Unpredictable, financially draining and dramatically adding to your workload, many carers report caring for someone with incontinence is one of the most difficult aspects of their role.

You may feel angry, frustrated, lonely, and unable to cope, but it’s vital you look after yourself. Caring for another can cause financial, mental and physical stress, which makes your job so much harder. But help is available – from respite to financial support there’s a range of services you can call on to make caring for someone with incontinence a little easier.

It is not always easy to care for a person with incontinence, but the right advice and support may help make it more manageable.

Where to seek help

There may be a number of things that are causing the incontinence or making it worse, so getting professional help is important to help manage it. The National Continence Helpline is a free and confidential service and is staffed by continence nurse advisors who can provide practical information, a wide range of resources and details of local continence services. You can reach the helpline by calling 1800 33 00 66.

You can also speak to Phil Wilkinson, our Continence Nurse, to learn more about managing incontinence and other general medical conditions on a day to day basis, or get expert advice on which product best suits you or your loved one’s needs. If you’re based in the Melbourne area, click here to set up a face-to-face consultation or ask a question via phone 1300 788 855 or email askthenurse@independenceaustralia.com.

Accessing financial assistance

There are various funding schemes available for continence products funded by the Australian Government. These schemes have differing eligibility criteria and funding allocations, and it is important to note that the person you care for may be eligible to apply for government funding through several schemes. Australian Government funding schemes are open to all Australian citizens who meet the eligibility criteria.

Continence Aids Payment Scheme (CAPS)
The Federal Government's CAPS provides an annual subsidy of $558.90 (2015-16) for someone with permanent or severe incontinence to help pay for continence aid products. Eligibility for the scheme includes people with:

  • Neurological conditions such as paraplegia, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, dementia or permanent and severe intellectual impairment
  • Other causes such as radiation therapy, certain cancers, prostate disease or prolapse and have a valid Centrelink Pensioner Concession Card (if they are under 16 years of age, their parent/guardian holds a Pensioner Concession Card).

To access this support, you’ll need to complete a CAPS application, which includes a Health Report from your medical practitioner or continence nurse about the condition.

Find out more about CAPS by calling our Customer Service Team, Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm (AEST) on 1300 788 855 or you can download a brochure and CAPS application form here.

Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) – Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP)
The DVA provides a range of incontinence products to eligible veterans and war widows via the Rehabilitation Appliances Program (RAP). Your doctor or health professional will fill out a form requesting the incontinence products then send it to an authorised product supplier on your behalf.

For all enquiries relating to RAP please click here or contact Independence Australia on 1300 788 855 or email customerservice@independenceaustralia.com.

State Funding Schemes
There are also a number of state-based funding schemes, including Enable (NSW), MASS (QLD), CMASS (WA), IPS (WA) and CES (TAS). For more information, please click here.

Carer payments and allowances
If your capacity to work is limited because you’re caring for someone with a disability, chronic illness or is frail-aged, you can apply for fortnightly Centrelink financial support.

A Carer Payment is available for Australian residents who meet an Income and Assets Test, while a Carer Allowance is not subject to an Income and Assets Test and can be paid on top of other allowances, including the Carer Payment and Age Pension. If you’re eligible, you may also receive:

  • A Pensioner Concession Card
  • A Pensioner Education Supplement (PES) if you are studying
  • Access to a Centrelink Jobs, Education and Training Adviser (JET) to enter or re-enter the workforce
  • Pharmaceutical Allowance (paid automatically with your Carer Payment)
  • Telephone Allowance (paid automatically with your Carer Payment). A higher rate of Telephone Allowance may be payable if you have an eligible internet account.

Visit www.centrelink.com.au for more details on eligibility and how to apply.

Carer / Companion Card Program
A collaboration between the government, businesses and the community, the Carer Card Program gives recognition, understanding and support to Victorian carers. It enables you to get a wide range of discounts and benefits, including:

  • Free travel on public transport on a Sunday plus two return off-peak travel vouchers each year.
  • Concessions for a huge range of businesses and attractions, including accommodation, car rental, house & home products, retail & food, automotive and services from participating councils, health professionals, pharmacists, legal services, education and more.

For more information and to apply online:

  • If you are based in Queensland click here
  • If you are based in New South Wales click here
  • If you are based in Victoria click here
  • If you are based in Tasmania click here
  • If you are based in South Australia click here
  • If you are based in Western Australia click here

Getting out and about

The National Public Toilet Map provides the details and locations of more than 16,000 public and private toilets around the country. Go to toiletmap.gov.au for further information or to download the app.

You can order a free guide, Help for people who care for someone with bladder or bowel problems, from the Continence Foundation. Call the Helpline on 1800 33 00 66 for a copy.

If you have any questions, we’re also on hand to help. Click here to get in touch today.

* Please note this article is intended as a general guide only. You should contact your medical practitioner or health team for detailed information.