World Continence Week will always be held from Monday to Sunday in the last week of June. Therefore World Continence Week this year will be heldon Monday 23rd - 29th June, 2014.
World Continence Week (WCW) is an annual initiative managed and run by the International Continence Society (ICS). Its primary aim is to raise awareness of incontinence, and incontinence related issues.
The other week I received another invitation to attend the 'Continence Clinic' at Leicester General Hospital (LGH). I have blogged about this before (see Continence BLOG) about my last visit. I commented previously that "I always refer to it as the 'incontinence clinic' - but my GP always corrects me, as the correct and more positive terminology (we have to at least try to be positive about these things) is the 'Continence Clinic'." I wasn't thrilled the first time that I went, and this time I had a better idea of what to expect; a better idea about the prospect of being prodded and poked in places you don't necessarily want to be prodded and poked, but they had kindly invited me, and so I went along.
The Doctor and Janet the Nurse were lovely, they are lovely. Really lovely. Because actually; it is all terribly embarrassing. Because actually; nobody want to talk in detail about their bodily functions. Because actually; nobody wants to discuss either their bowels or their bladder. A friend, a comrade with MS commented that, "Incontinence is perhaps one of the most humiliating MS symptoms". But the staff at the Continence Clinic understand this, are sympathetic and understanding and helpful. They also retain a sense of humour, which really is invaluable.
Later on that evening I received a message from a friend asking me if I'd had a good day. I replied explaining where I'd spent my afternoon, and this eventually led to a discussion about a 'Radar Key'.
I was asked if I had a 'Radar Key'. I hadn't. I admit I'd never even heard of one.
What is it? What is a Radar Key?
It sounds quite exciting, it sounds like it could be a Doctor Who Gadget like a Sonic Screwdriver. It really isn't that exciting. But, I found out that it is a large, silver-coloured key. This large, silver-coloured key opens disabled toilets. Of which there are more than 9,000 accessible toilets in the UK, and these can be opened like magic with a Radar Key. (I rather suspect that a Sonic Screwdriver may be effective too, in opening disabled toilets if I had one of those).
This is the Radar National Key Scheme. The National Key Scheme (NKS) offers disabled people independent access to locked public toilets around the country. Toilets fitted with National Key Scheme (NKS) locks can now be found in shopping centres, pubs, cafés, department stores, bus and train stations and many other locations in most parts of the country, therefore offering independent access to these toilets by using a special key which can be bought from the Disability Rights UK.The first Radar toilet opened in 1981. Since then, more than 400 local authorities and thousands of businesses have joined the scheme. Some 9,000 toilets are now listed as being accessible via the Radar key but the figure is probably much higher.
Official Radar keys cost about £5, including postage and packing. These can be bought from participating local authorities or the Disability Rights UK shop. Although some councils give them away for free. And there are lots of imitations and copies available on the internet.
It is called the RADAR scheme because Disability Rights UK was previously called theRoyal Association for DisAbility Rights. The thinking behind the radar national key scheme was that People who need to use a locked disabled loo can now go in peace, and quickly, without the indignity of asking someone if they can 'go', please and they shouldn't have to wait and should access a clean facility.
The truth is a lot of people with MS do have issues at some time with either their bowel or their bladder. It is estimated that it affects around 50%-80% of people with MS. For them it can either be a rush to get to a WC, or they can't go at all. All of which is an inconvenience. And requires a convenience. Bladder and bowel problems occur commonly in MS, and can range from mild incontinence or constipation to more severe problems. Bladder problems include the need to pass water frequently and/or urgently, incomplete emptying or emptying at inappropriate times. Bowel problems include constipation and, infrequently, loss of bowel control.
So faced with these difficulties it may be useful to have a Radar Key, if you haven't already readily got access to a Sonic Screwdriver.