RPNs would like more opportunities to work in leadership roles while retaining their practical nursing practice.  RPNAO heard this last year on our provincial tour.  We also heard that RPNs are interested in exploring innovative roles that will help to meet emerging patient care needs.  So when an opportunity presented for RPNAO to partner with Dr. Jennifer Skelly and McMaster University to support RPNs to attend the 12th Canadian National Conference on Incontinence April 30 and May 1, we jumped at the chance. 

RPNAO put out a call for Expressions of Interest for 4 bursaries for RPNs to attend the conference.  Each bursary was to cover conference registration, travel and accommodation.  RPNAO received 25 excellent submissions from across the province.  Given the terrific response, a decision was quickly made to increase the number of bursaries from 4 to 10 to support as many RPNs as possible.  Dr. Skelly and McMaster assisted by giving RPNAO a special early bird rate to reduce our conference registration costs.  Our bursary recipient RPNs were:

Region 1
Sheila Courtney, Bluewater Healthcare Services

Region 3
Catherine Kalwies, Creekway Village Long Term Care
Jane Houze, Norfolk General Hospital

Region 4
Peggie Sutherland, Maple Health Centre Long Term Care
Caroline Otoo-Appiah, Sherwood Court Long Term Care

Region 5
Suzanne Rintoul, Elliot St Clinic

Region 6
Angela Corneil, Peterborough Regional Health Centre

Region 7
Andrea McWatters, Sioux Lookout William "A" George Extended Care
Tiffany Baker, Wikwemikong Nursing Home
Christine Harri, Pioneer Home for the Aged

There were no submissions from Region 4.

Dr. Skelly is a Specialist Nurse Continence Advisor.  According to Dr. Skelly, incontinence is significant problem in the community and in our healthcare facilities. “1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men suffer with urinary incontinence.  With aging the problem becomes more pronounced and with chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis, stroke  it can be up to 20%.  In acute care it is often 25% and in Long Term Care the vast majority (up to 80%) of residents experience incontinence”. 

All the bursary recipients enjoyed the networking and learning of the conference.  For Andrea McWatters the highlight was learning about all the different factors that affect continence. “Since the conference, back at my organization I have revamped the way we have done our assessments and reassessed the residents to begin a prompted voiding schedule. Each resident's care plan has been updated and interventions are being completed. I have also been in touch with our dietitian to reassess diets to maintain a regular bowel routine to reduce laxative use”. 

“I learned more than I expected. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Nurse Continence Advisor”, commented Sheila Courtney.  For Sheila the highlight of the conference was hearing about the experiences of a guest speaker who experiences fecal incontinence.  His story was a powerful eye opening to things that she hadn’t really thought of before such as what it is like for men to have to change incontinence products in public washrooms, where there are no disposal units. 

Suzanne Rintoul has requested a change in her job description since returning to her role at the Elliot St Clinic.  “The conference brought clarity to my true love in primary care. I approached the physicians and asked if I could focus on Women’s Wellness visits which will include assessments regarding incontinence.  Sam Leong, one of the presenters at the conference told us that 80% of incontinence is curable.  I want to spend the majority of my days focusing on women’s health.  I find I am continually amazed at the lack of knowledge and low expectations women have about the physiological changes they are enduring.  My goal is to improve their quality of life when it comes to gynaecological health”. 

RPNs, Dr. Skelly maintains are perfectly positioned for leadership roles in continence care as continence advisors.  A new continence advisor course is in development and is scheduled for launch in September 2019.  It will likely be online and will be open to RPNs.  RPNAO will keep you posted on this development.


Barbara Jones
Director, Nursing Innovation

Category: Special FeatureDate: Friday, June 15, 2018