National Continence Helpline

8am - 8pm Monday to Friday AEST Talk to a continence nurse

Urgent need to pass urine (urgency)

Get help from a health care professional, or talk to your supervisor or care coordinator if:

  • the urgent need to pass urine is a new problem
  • the person has symptoms of a urinary tract infection - fever, shivering, pain in the lower back, blood in their urine.

What is urgency?

Urgency is a sudden, strong feeling that you need to pass urine. If the person you support experiences urgency, they may find it difficult to hold on long enough to get to the toilet. This can result in urge incontinence, which is when the person leaks urine before they reach the toilet after a feeling of urgency.

What should you do if the person you support has urge incontinence?

You should:

  • help the person to the toilet as soon as they feel the urge
  • take time when helping the person, as rushing them can make them anxious or upset
  • given them the help they need in the toilet
  • help them clean themselves and change if they have an accident.

How else can you help?

  • Check the person's continence care plan and follow any recommendations.
  • Reduce clutter in their room or home, so they have a clear path to the toilet.
  • Encourage the person to cut back on caffeine and fizzy drinks. These can irritate the bladder and make the person produce more urine and make urgency worse.
  • Check if the person is constipated, as the stored faeces can push on the bladder and make urgency worse.
  • Don't get into the habit of taking the person to the toilet 'just in case'. Take them only when they feel the need to go.
  • Make sure the person is wearing clothes which are easy to remove if urgency happens.
  • To stop accidents, a urinal can be used for men. A commode may be helpful if you can put it near the person, e.g. next to the bed or chair, especially if the toilet is not nearby.

Need more help? Call the National Continence Helpline on 18OO 33 OO 66 and talk to a continence nurse advisor.

View this content and more for free via the learning modules at

This information is not a substitute for independent professional advice.