Q7: managing toilet needs
What this question means
This question is about how your condition makes it difficult for you to:
- get on and off an unadapted toilet seat
- clean yourself afterwards
- if applicable, manage your incontinence
The DWP is not interested in the difficulties you have getting to the bathroom or managing your clothes - for example, unzipping your trousers or undoing a belt. If you have difficulties with these, you can explain them in question 8.
Try not to feel embarrassed, miss out information or put on a brave face. If you do, the DWP won’t get a true picture of how your condition affects you and this can make it harder to get PIP.
"Does your condition affect you using the toilet or managing incontinence?"
You should probably tick “Yes” if:
- you're incontinent and have to use aids such as incontinence pads or grab rails
- you use an adapted toilet seat or toilet - for example, it has handrails
- you don't use a toilet - for example, you use a commode or catheter instead
- you use an aid either all the time or sometimes
- someone helps you (even if it's just with your aid - for example, dealing with a used portable bidet)
- someone is around in case you need help
- someone reminds you to go to the toilet
- someone explains how to clean yourself properly
- you need help but don't get it
"Tell us about the difficulties you have using the toilet and how you manage them."
It’s important you tell the DWP more by explaining your situation in the box.
It's your chance to give the DWP a true picture of the difficulties you face because of your condition. They'll use this to decide if you get PIP.
You can also use this space to explain what help you need but don't get.
Aids you use
List all the aids you use:
- to help you get on and off a toilet seat
- to clean yourself
- to manage any incontinence - clearly state if this includes incontinence pads, a temporary or permanent catheter, a colostomy bag, or similar
Never miss any aids off your list because you think it's obvious and always:
- explain how they help you
- explain if you have to use them because you can't use a toilet
- make it clear if a health professional advised you to use them
- include any that would help you if you had them
Someone helps, assists or reminds you
Make it clear if you need help but don’t get it.
if you do get help, give the relationship of the person to you (for example, carer or friend) and explain:
- why they help
- how they help
- how often they help
Make it clear if you need them to:
- always help you on and off a toilet seat
- always help you clean yourself
- help with just some of your toilet needs
- be on hand - for example, to help only if needed or to make sure you're safe
- remind you to go to the toilet, empty your colostomy bag or wash your hands
- explain how to use the toilet or clean yourself
Always explain what happens (or would happen) if you don't get help. For example:
- you're more likely to soil yourself
- you're more likely to have an accident - for example, you're epileptic and at risk of a seizure while on the toilet
- you're less likely to go out because you might need to go to the toilet
It's ok to estimate how often you need help but say if you are. If it's too difficult to estimate - explain why. For example, because your condition fluctuates.
Safety: accidents and risk of injury or infection
Tell the DWP if you have or think you might:
- slip or fall when getting on or off the toilet
- fall sick or get an infection because you find it hard to clean yourself
Make it clear:
- why it can happen
- how often it can happen
- how badly it could affect you
- how you try to prevent it - for example, you rely on a handrail or someone to help you
- if it's because someone didn't help you
- if it's because you get confused or have trouble remembering
Time it takes
Tell the DWP if it takes you twice as long as someone without your condition to do any of the following:
- get on and off an unadapted toilet seat
- clean yourself
- wash your hands afterwards
Try to explain how long it takes. It's ok to estimate but say if you are. If it's too hard to estimate explain why.
- include time for breaks if you need them
- explain if it takes you even longer on a bad day
Good days and bad days
Explain how you cope managing your toilet needs on both good days and bad and how you manage over a longer period of time (like a week). This gives the DWP a better picture of how you cope most of the time.
Make it clear:
- if you have good days and bad days
- how often you have bad days
- if you have bad days more often than not
- how your difficulties and any symptoms differ between goods days and bad
It's ok to estimate your bad days but say if you are. If it's too difficult to estimate - explain why. For example, because your condition fluctuates.
Symptoms like pain or frustration
Explain if the difficulties you have getting on or off the toilet, cleaning yourself or managing your incontinence cause you any physical or mental symptoms. For example, pain, tiredness or stress.
It's helpful to explain the symptoms and give an example, including:
- how often you have them
- how long they last
- if they're likely to increase the risk of an accident or you soiling yourself
- if they affect your ability to carry out any of the other activities on your PIP claim form - for example, you're so anxious about managing your incontinence that it prevents you from going out
Sarah finds it difficult to manage her toilet needs so she doesn't eat or drink properly or go out with her friends as much as she used to because she's anxious about having to go to the toilet.