User experiences of bladder and bowel services during the pandemic

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Summary of report content

During Autumn 2020, Healthwatch Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (HW BNSSG) and the Bladder and Bowel CONfidence Health Integration Team (BABCON HIT) conducted a collaborative project to investigate the impact that Covid-19 had on people using bladder and bowel services to inform decision making during service recovery and future service innovation.

  • Healthwatch found a clear message of societal underestimation of the seriousness or impact of bladder and bowel leakage on people in need of the services.
  • Reduced access to services or complete lack of awareness of the availability of services was reported due to a lack of visibility and validation that these symptoms are worthy of focus.
  • There was a reliance on informal caregivers for those with bladder and bowel symptoms who are not well supported either.
  • Lack of public toilets fails to recognise the far-reaching implications for the many people experiencing bladder or bowel leakage, who rely on these vital facilities to enable activity and interaction outside of the home.
  • A third of the respondents reported effects on their bladder and bowel health and subsequent impact on mental health due to altered services.
  • Most service users require advice and guidance to manage and improve symptoms of bladder and bowel leakage.
  • Advantages and disadvantages to largely remote consultations were reported, highlighting that service provision needs to meet the needs of the individual.

The report contains recommendations from Healthwatch and response from BABCON as next steps.  

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General details

Report title 
User experiences of bladder and bowel services during the pandemic
Local Healthwatch 
Healthwatch Bristol
Healthwatch North Somerset
Healthwatch South Gloucestershire
Date of publication 
Friday, 8 April, 2022
Date evidence capture began 
Friday, 22 April, 2022
Date evidence capture finished 
Friday, 22 April, 2022
Key themes 
Building and facilities
Continuity of care
Health inequalities
Information providing
Lifestyle and wellbeing
Quality of regulation

Methodology and approach

Was the work undertaken at the request of another organisation? 
What type of organisation requested the work 
If this work has been done in partnership, who is the partner? 
The Bladder and Bowel CONfidence Health Integration Team (BABCON HIT)
Primary research method used 
If an Enter and View methodology was applied, was the visit announced or unannounced? 

Details of health and care services included in the report

Secondary care services 
Other services 
Equipment service

Details of people who shared their views

Number of people who shared their views 
Age group 
All people 18 and over
Black/ African / Caribbean / Black British
Other ethnic group
Does the information include public's views? 
Does the information include carer's, friend's or relative's views? 
Does the information include staff's views? 
Types of health and care professionals engaged 
What was the main sentiment of the people who shared their views? 

Outcomes and impact

Were recommendations made by local Healthwatch in the report? 
Does the information contain a response from a provider? 
Yes action has been taken or promised
Is there evidence of impact in the report? 
Is there evidence of impact external to the report? 
Not known
What type of impact was determined? 
Tangible impact (not cost related)

Network Impact
Relationships that exist locally, regionally, nationally have benefited from the work undertaken in the report
Implied Impact
Where it is implied that change may occur in the future as a result of Healthwatch work. This can be implied in a provider  response, press release or other source. Implied impact can become tangible impact once change has occurred.
Tangible Impact
There is evidence of change that can be directly attributed to Healthwatch work undertaken in the report.