Our nurses' top tips for coming home from hospital with a catheter

Coming home from hospital after just getting a catheter can feel a little daunting; especially if you don’t quite know what comes with your new catheter life. Our in-house nursing team has sat down and compiled their best tips for you in this article.

Fluid intake

With a catheter, your fluid intake is even more important than it was when you were living without a catheter. You should always aim to drink anywhere between 1.5 and 2 litres per day to avoid getting dehydrated. Ideally, your urine should be a light yellow, almost straw-like colour. If your pee is dark yellow or even orange, there’s a chance that you’re dehydrated, and you should make sure to top up on the H20. Do bear in mind, though, that certain foods and drinks can also affect the colour of your urine. So, if you’ve just downed a bright-coloured fizzy drink or ate a bunch of beetroot, there’s no need to panic if your pee suddenly has a different colour.

Urine colour

Try to avoid getting constipated

Do everything you can to avoid getting constipated. This can be including more fibre to your diet, exercising regularly, and making sure you drink enough so you don’t get dehydrated. Why is it so important to avoid constipation? Because a full bowel can put pressure on your bladder and your catheter, leading to complications.

Let’s talk about catheter care

Caring for your catheter properly is what really matters as this is the best and most important thing you can do to reduce your risk of infection. But what exactly does your catheter care include? The first, and most crucial rule you should never forget is to ALWAYS wash your hands with soap and warm water before you do anything catheter related like cleaning it or changing or emptying your leg bag. You should only have to change your leg bag every 5 to 7 days. Try to not change it any more frequently than that as you would increase your risk of infection by doing that. And never just let the leg bag dangle around, make sure it’s supported with the proper fixation devices. You can use leg bag straps, a leg bag sleeve, or any other fixation device you like. It’s important that you clean around your catheter every day when you shower or wash yourself. When you do that, make sure to wipe away from the entry point of your catheter so you don’t end up moving bacteria closer to the entry point, leading to an infection.

It’s always a good idea to have a spare catheter and extra supplies of leg bags and overnight drainage bags in the house for emergencies. And what’s even more important, make sure you know exactly where and how to order more catheter supplies. Having the number of your district nurse or any other emergency contact to hand is another great tip we can give you. This comes in especially handy when you notice anything off with your catheter or when you suddenly experience any sort of discomfort.

How full can my leg bag get?

Your leg bag shouldn’t get completely full before you empty it. A good rule of thumb is to empty it when it’s around two-thirds full which usually happens around every 2 to 3 hours. But how do you actually go about emptying it?

  • Step 1: Wash your hands with warm water and soap and dry them. If you have someone that is emptying your leg bag for you, like your carer, make sure they put on a clean pair of gloves before touching your catheter.

  • Step 2: Make sure the outlet tap of your leg bag is over a toilet or a clean container. If you’re using a container, make sure that it’s big enough for all the urine that you’re draining out of your leg bag.

  • Step 3: Open the tap of your leg bag. There are different types of taps so your leg bag might open differently. For example, there are t-taps that need to be slid open or lever taps that just need to be pushed down. When opening the tap, always make sure that you still hold the outlet tube over the toilet or chosen container.

  • Step 4: Once you’ve opened the tap, urine will drain from your leg bag. Wait until all the urine has drained out of the leg bag and make extra sure that the outlet tap doesn’t touch either the toilet or container as this could lead to an infection. Once all the urine has drained from the bag, you can close the tap again.

  • Step 5: If the outlet tube feels a bit wet after you’ve closed it, use a clean wipe to give it a quick wipe down.

  • Step 6: Use whatever fixation device you like most to strap the leg bag to your leg again.

  • Step 7: Wash your hands again with warm water & soap and, voila, you’re good to go!

How can we help with your catheter care?

We know exactly that it can be a bit overwhelming and difficult when you get discharged from hospital with a catheter. Especially when you’ve never even spent a day thinking about a device like this before! How often do you change your leg bag? How full is too full? How do I go about cleaning my catheter? So many questions, and often not a lot of answers. And when you then get to unpack the things you got from the hospital you might not even know what is what.

But there’s no need to fret, we’re here for you! Our nurses are available for a non-binding telephone call to help you find your feet when it comes to catheter care and getting supplies. And don’t worry, we won’t pressure you into using our service if that isn’t what you want. Our nursing team is just here to look out for you and to help you get the best start to your catheter life possible.