All staff working with people with faecal incontinence should be aware of both the physical and the emotional impact this condition can have on people and their carers. Treatment and care should take account of individual needs and preferences. People with faecal incontinence should have the opportunity to make informed decisions about their care and treatment, in partnership with their healthcare professionals. It should be recognised that people who have had faecal incontinence for a long time may become experts in the management of their symptoms. Where it is believed that a person may lack the capacity to make decisions, healthcare professionals should follow the Department of Health's advice on consent and the code of practice that accompanies the Mental Capacity Act. In Wales, healthcare professionals should follow advice on consent from the Welsh Government.
Treatment and care and the information people are given about faecal incontinence should be culturally appropriate. Information should be accessible to people with additional needs such as physical, sensory, mental or learning disabilities. Specialist techniques and tools should be employed to ensure that people with communication difficulties have the opportunity to receive information. It should be offered in a wide range of languages and formats (including face-to-face, telephone-based, web-based, electronic, printed and audiotape). Specific strategies are needed to meet the information and advice needs of groups who may be less likely to seek help or information. These could include people from groups where the condition is seen as particularly stigmatising. Advice on the production of public and patient information by healthcare professionals is available from www.nhsidentity.nhs.uk. Information by itself is not always enough: people should be offered one-to-one support in understanding and interpreting information and what it means for them as individuals. Carers and relatives should have the opportunity to be involved in decisions about the patient's care and treatment, if the patient agrees to this. Because of the sensitive nature of the condition and the stigma attached to it, people should be asked if they want carers and relatives to be involved. In some cultures disclosure of faecal incontinence could lead to the person being ostracised. Where appropriate, carers and relatives should also be given the information and support they need.