Common but invisible disabilities
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Research suggests that up to 45% of women and about half as many men currently experience some degree of urinary incontinence. It has also been estimated that between 5% and 8% of adult men and women experience some level of faecal incontinence. Despite these figures, we still find it taboo to talk about bladder and toileting problems.
There are often no - or limited - facilities in washrooms for people who experience incontinence. Without access to safe and hygienic facilities in washroom cubicles, many are forced to use disabled toilets or dispose of waste outside of the cubicle.
Incontinence problems are hidden disabilities that can impact a person’s self-confidence and daily life. Practical concerns over how those affected can manage their problems when away from home affect daily activities such as work, shopping, leisure and travel. Many people have to plan their schedules around toileting as a lack of access to washrooms or washroom provisions are not always readily available.
Right now, adult incontinence products are the fastest growing retail disposable hygiene category globally. In the UK alone, the market size for adult incontinence products was estimated at £300 million in 2015 and set to rise to £590 million by 2025.
Despite this, most businesses are not yet responding to changing user needs. Environmental laws stipulate that premises have a duty to ensure appropriate disposal of all waste but most businesses only provision for facilities in the form of feminine hygiene units, nappy bins and general waste bins.
Changing needs of washroom users, however, are already resulting in some new legislation. Germany is pioneering good practice in this space, with new regulations requiring the provision of hygienic disposal facilities in all workplace washrooms. The German regulation stipulates that this must include:
Businesses have a duty of care to correctly manage waste - from washroom to final disposal. Safe and hygienic facilities should be made available in all washrooms and feature integral anti-microbial technology to inhibit the growth of bacteria and the spread of germs. As well as the correct disposal units, hand washing and sanitising facilities should also be provisioned for. Many affected by incontinence report anxieties over the lack of adequate hand washing facilities when away from home.
Although incontinence is a challenging condition, many of its impacts on the daily life can be prevented through the understanding of others. Enhancing your washroom facilities with the correct waste management solutions ensure your business is meeting social, environmental and legislative requirements, but most importantly, it gives your customers and employees the confidence that their needs are important and that their well-being is being taken care of.