Everything you need to know about catheter care

Care home nurse pushing resident in a wheelchair

Catheter care is a vital aspect of healthcare practice, profoundly impacting the comfort, dignity, and overall well-being of service users.

Whether you’re a seasoned nurse or a dedicated care assistant, understanding key considerations in catheter care is paramount to providing effective and compassionate support.

Here, we’ll look at the most important aspects of catheter care, from documentation to preventing complications and ensuring competence.

Documentation: a legal requirement

Accurate documentation is not just a paperwork task; it’s a legal and ethical obligation in catheter care. From insertion to removal, every detail matters.

Documenting insertion and removal specifics, observations, and service user responses ensures continuity of care and serves as a legal record of provided care.

Remember, clear, factual, and objective documentation is key, adhering to confidentiality and legibility standards outlined in professional guidelines and policies.

As well as recording how much urine has been emptied, pay close attention to details such as the colour and clarity of urine, whether the catheter is draining and always remember to document in black ink.

Fluid charts are also important tools for tracking urine output and identifying potential issues.

Understanding common complications

Knowledge is power when it comes to catheter complications. Vigilance for signs of infection, blockages, or dislodgement is crucial for prompt intervention. Common complications, like urinary tract infections (UTIs), require keen observation and proactive measures.

Look out for signs such as pelvic or lower abdominal pain, foul-smelling or cloudy urine, high temperature, confusion, or changes in behaviour which can all be signs of a UTI manifesting.

If you notice anything abnormal at all, bring this to the person in charge’s attention so they can escalate issues to appropriate channels, such as GPs or emergency services, is vital for timely intervention.

Ensuring proper positioning and safety

Proper handling and positioning of catheter tubes and drainage bags are essential to prevent injuries and infections. If you are handling a catheter, make sure that you have washed your hands and always wear gloves to, minimise the risk of infections. Always make sure the catheter drainage bag is fixed to either the leg with straps or on a catheter bag stand.

During moving and handling procedures, such as transfers, careful attention to catheter tubing and bag positioning prevents accidental dislodgement, minimising pain and trauma to the service user.

Maintaining competence and seeking support

Competence is non-negotiable in catheter care. Healthcare professionals must work within their scope of practice and seek additional support or guidance when needed. Familiarity with organisational protocols and evidence-based practices ensures safe and effective care delivery.

Continuous education and training on urinary catheterisation techniques are essential to stay updated and proficient in providing quality care.

Catheter care demands attention to detail, empathy, and a commitment to excellence. By prioritising accurate documentation, understanding common complications, ensuring proper positioning and safety measures, and maintaining competence, care assistants and nurses can uphold the highest standards of care.

Every action taken in catheter care contributes to the comfort, dignity, and well-being of service users, making it a cornerstone of good care delivery.

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