Leadership team Dr Nikki Cotterill, Professor Marcus Drake, Kathryn McCarthy and Professor Paul Abrams look back on what BABCON HIT achieved in 2020-21.
Due to the pandemic, all services migrated to digital provision in Spring 2020 and a significant level of staff redeployment was necessary. At BABCON, we wanted to understand the scale of these changes specific to bladder and bowel care, and also the perceptions of those providing and using these services, to help inform services in the future.
We secured funding from the Elizabeth Blackwell Institute and NIHR ARC West to undertake a national mapping and survey study to Explore Perspectives of the Impact on Continence Care due to COVID-19 from healthcare practitioners’ perspectives (EPICCC-19). This involved identifying services nationally and then circulating a survey to unpick what had changed, what had worked well and what future provision should avoid, as we begin service recovery. Data collection remains underway and a publication planned for Autumn 2021 should provide valuable insights and robust findings to inform future service provision.
We conducted a collaborative project, jointly funded by Healthwatch BNSSG and the Bristol Urological Institute at North Bristol NHS Trust, to evaluate what people using bladder and bowel services thought about the changes to these services due to COVID-19. An online survey circulated through social media, community groups and settings, and charities explored the experiences of those using, or trying to use, services during the pandemic. These findings are intended to complement the EPICCC-19 results to provide a broad perspective of the impact of COVID-19 on bladder and bowel services. Both projects have proved valuable in informing future directions for research and profile-raising activities to promote a message of improving continence for all.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT) is the cornerstone strategy for improving pelvic floor strength that is key to many aspects of improving bladder and bowel leakage. Yet, because it is difficult to discuss, many people do not seek or receive help regarding its potential to improve symptoms and how to do it well. We produced our first educational video on PFMT in March 2021, featuring BABCON member and Specialist Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Jen Pinkstone. Further videos are in production, as part of our commitment to improving education for everyone with bladder and bowel symptoms.
Finally, CONfidence, our continence promotion app, launched during World Continence Week, 21-27 June 2021. In partnership with local developer Dr Knut Schroeder of Expert Self Care, we brought together patient, public and national expert contributors to create a self-help and signposting resource for people with issues around bladder and bowel control. In an area that is so often hidden and hard to talk about, we hope this app will enable more information to be in the hands of those people who need it, at the touch of a screen.