Improving toilet accessibility can reduce urinary incontinence

Toilet accessibility may need to be addressed if you or a family member needs to visit the toilet frequently because of a bladder or bowel problem.  

Small changes can have a big impact, and it starts with altering physical barriers and daily routine.   

Physical barriers

  • Remove any clutter in the pathway to the toilet and illuminate the toilet pathway and area overnight.
  • If someone is struggling with incontinence, be sure that he or she is dressed in clothing that can be undone or removed with ease.
  • Avoid ties and buttons – especially with young children or someone with a physical or cognitive disability.
  • It's important that the toilet is at the correct height to ensure that feet are firmly placed on the ground and that it is easy to get on and off the toilet seat.
  • If necessary, install handrails for safety and accessibility.
  • Ensure that the toilet is well lit, warm, clean and free of foul odours.

Routine factors

  • Routine is important in all aspects of life – and maintaining continence is no exception! In some cases, an individual may not recognise the need to use the toilet. 
  • Having a daily routine for meals, exercise and using the toilet will help avoid instances of incontinence. 
  • Keep a diary of when the person has the urge to urinate (or is incontinent), and encourage him or her to visit the toilet at those times.
  • Be aware of the individual’s habits and body language. If you notice an increased amount of fidgeting, that may be a sign that a toilet break is needed.  

Alternatives to toilets

If toilet accessibility continues to be an obstacle, consider purchasing a commode or hand-held urinal. A commode is a chair with a built-in toilet pan that can be placed wherever necessary. Hand-held urinals are bottlelike urine collection devices that can be used by both men and women.

Source: Victorian Continence Resource Centre


National Public Toilet Map

The Department of Health maintains the National Public Toilet Map, which enables a search by location, address and postcode. The map can also plan a trip with the location of public toilets along the journey and can be download as an iPhone app.

For more information, click here