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Helpline 0800 650 659 continence nz

Meet Our Nurses

Lisa Smith: Children’s Continence Nurse

My career goes back 35 years in the field of Paediatric Nursing.

After gaining my Nursing degree I headed down to Birmingham Children’s Hospital in England to work in sick children’s nursing, allowing me to be nearer to my boyfriend Nigel, who I later married. 

After a year of backpacking round the world with Nigel, we returned to Scotland with plans to emigrate to New Zealand. However due to my husband developing cancer these plans had to be put on hold.

For the next twelve years I worked my way up in the Children’s Unit at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. I set up and ran the nurse led Paediatric Asthma Specialist Nurse service for six years before securing a role as an Associate Lecturer at Dundee University.

Eventually we did emigrate in 2004 along with our adopted son, Aaron. I started work in the children’s ward at Hastings Hospital and very quickly realised there was a huge gap in support for children and families with severe constipation and soiling. A child was being admitted every week to the ward for a bowel clearout with no close follow up afterwards. Subsequently, many of them were readmitted again within the year.  

Over the next year I researched the problem of chronic constipation in Children and developed a similar model to running a nurse-led asthma Clinic.

I researched and presented a proposal to the management team about setting up a nurse-led bowel management service and 17 years later I have expanded and extended the practice to include all continence issues in children.

My mantra has always been “turning bad into good” after the many hurdles I have encountered supporting my son, Aaron, who was diagnosed with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. 

The experience of managing my child’s challenging behaviours have helped me in my role as a Children’s Continence Nurse. There is nothing more satisfying than when a child comes to my clinic and says, ‘Mr Poo is a happy poo and comes out in the toilet every day’. Hearing that is something that I will never get tired of hearing.

For time out my idea of relaxation is lying in bed reading my book, a cup of coffee and my two lovely dogs lying beside me. I also love getting out on my boat with my hubby on Lake Taupo. 

Lisa loves helping parents, carers and children and would love you to get in touch. You can reach her via our Continence Helpline on 0800 650 659 or via emailing lisa@continence.org.nz

Find some of Lisa's helpful resources here: 
Lisa's 7 P's Toileting Plan for Kids with Additional Needs (Guide)
Lisa's 7 P's Toileting Plan for Kids with Additional Needs (Webinar)
The B's of Bowels: Know Your Business
Lisa's Smith's Going Potty Guide
Going Potty over Potty Training (Webinar)

Louise Mills: Continence Nurse Specialist

I have over 35 years nursing experience with 20 years specialising and focusing on improving continence care within our communities.

After working as a Registered Nurse for a year, I spent a season during 1986, working at a children’s outdoor activities centre before commencing training for sick children’s nursing. Fabulous memories of kayaking, horse riding, abseiling with abundant forest trails around Ross on Wye, Herefordshire, UK remain.

But it was when I started working in the community as a Health Visitor, attached to a GP Practice, that I observed that being continent mattered to families. What we drink and eat and how that impacts on when wees and poos occur, how we learn to follow others around toilet training, how we need to let people know what is happening and how to let someone know if we are in pain and not able to go to the toilet.

My passion increased while working with families – postpartum women wanting to learn about pelvic floor safe exercises as their body returned to pre pregnancy state or maybe felt they would like to be more active now they were parents. Connecting with fathers and significant others within the family enabled healthy living for everyone.

Community health care provides the first point of contact for people and being able to listen, ask questions in a safe way to enable families to explore the sensitive issue of incontinence is an important part of the role.

For the last 11 years I have worked as a Continence Nurse Specialist supporting our families reduce their continence symptoms, advocate, liaise and network with health providers. I have facilitated change, developed protocols and advocated for continence care with dignity.

I love this new role at Continence NZ which enables me to provide information on incontinence, along with sharing where to get help in a culturally appropriate way with easy-to-use language, visual resources including online videos, to dispel myths and begin that conversation that incontinence is a symptom not a diagnosis with ways together we can reduce symptoms.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Louise can be reached via our Continence Helpline on 0800 650 659 or via emailing louise.mills@continence.org.nz

Janet Thackray: Continence Nurse Specialist 

I'm a Continence Nurse Specialist with over 20 years’ experience, working in the continence field in both private and DHB roles in New Zealand and the UK. I am passionate about improving the lives of people with this distressing and debilitating condition.

Qualifying as a Registered Nurse, I then gained further qualifications in Community Nursing, Midwifery, Oncology and a Post Graduate Certificate in Health Science. I have many years’ experience working as a Practice Nurse in GP surgeries and a private Urogynaecology Clinic.

During my time as Continence Educator for Continence NZ, I educated people from all walks of life, throughout New Zealand, about bladder and bowel health - getting incontinence out of hushed whispers and into everyday conversation.

Incontinence is a symptom, not a diagnosis, and the important step is to find out the cause - and remember incontinence is not normal.

Janet now provides cover on our Continence Helpline on 0800 650 659 when needed.

Find some of Janet's helpful resources here: 
Continence FAQs video series