Commodes: Inconvenient Conveniences.

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Objectives -To investigate use of commodes and attitudes of users and carers to them.

Design -Interview with semi-structured questionnaire of subjects supplied with commodes from Leeds community appliance centre.

Subjects -140 users of a commode and 105 of their carers.

Results -Main reasons for being supplied with a commode were impaired mobility (130 subjects), difficulty in climbing stairs (128), and urinary incontinence (127). Main concerns of users and carers were lack of privacy (120 subjects felt embarrassed about using their commode, and 96 would not use it if someone was present); unpleasant smells (especially for 20 subjects who were confined to one room); physical appearance of commode chair (101 users said it had an unfavourable appearance, and 44 had tried to disguise it); and lack of follow up after commode was supplied (only 15 users and carers knew who to contact if there were problems). Users generally either had very positive or very negative attitudes to their commodes but most carers viewed them very negatively, especially with regard to cleaning them.

Conclusions -Health professionals should be aware of people's need for privacy when advising them where to keep their commode. A standard commode is inappropriate for people confined to one room, and alternatives such as a chemical toilet should be considered. Regular follow up is needed to identify any problems such as uncomfortable or unsafe chairs. More thought should be given to the appearance of commodes in their design.

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