Catheter FAQs for the Caregivers
The International Paruresis Association has a long and informative article about catheter usage on their website at http://www.paruresis.org/catheter.htm. If you use catheter supplies daily, this is nothing new to you. But if you are a caregiver, who is not a nurse, catheter insertion and assistance might be intimidating. While we recommend getting proper training from a doctor or nurse, here are some tips to prepare you for the process.
Catheters are split into 3 categories: Indwelling, or Foley catheters; Intermittent, or In-and-Out catheters; and External catheters, or male external catheters. Indwelling catheters are for patients who are bed-bound for the long-term, paralyzed (either in bed or a wheelchair), or bed-bound for a short term. These people can not control their bladder, usually because of nerve damage to the spinal cord or bladder. Intermittent catheters are a one-time use, disposable catheter that are for people who need assistance emptying their bladder but don't have complete nerve blockage. Pregnant and post-partum women who are under anesthesia, people with spastic bladders where the muscles won't release the urine, or temporary hospital patients all fall into this category. Finally there are men who, due to age, prostate issues, and/or weakened muscles must use male external catheters to collect and dispose of urine. These are also called condom catheters for the way they cover the penis.
All catheter patients have problems with the muscles and nerves controlling the bladder. As a caregiver, it is important to remember that "accidents" are as upsetting, or more, to the patient as to the caregiver. It is often suggested to use an incontinence product like a bedpad under the patient, a diaper, or a bladder pad in the person's underwear to keep drips and voids from becoming embarrassing problems.
As a caregiver, it will be important for you to wear disposable, medical gloves before inserting or placing the catheter. All internal catheters must be inserted with catheter lubricant unless they are closed system catheters and come pre-lubricated. Disposing of urine must be done into a toilet and make sure to record any information necessary for medical records. Lastly, always remember that you are dealing with a person who can not void of their own will. You will be working around their exposed genitals. Using discretion, a gentle touch, and communication of processes is fundamental for the patient's dignity every time.
Are you a caregiver? Any tips for best catheter practices?