Catheter care at home

This page outlines the approach that Gardiner’s Homecare takes with catheter care at home and it also details the procedures followed by our staff.  We hope it is helpful for our staff, our clients and others too.

A urinary catheter is a thin flexible tube that is introduced into the bladder. The catheter may be urethral, (introduced via the penis in a man or vulva in a woman) or it may be supra-pubic (inserted into the bladder through an opening made in the lower abdomen). It may be used for a number of reasons but in the home setting is most commonly used to manage urinary continence.

Urine drains from the bladder through the catheter and is collected into a drainage bag which you should empty at regular intervals.

General principles of catheter care at home

  • The use of a urinary catheter comes with the risk of catheter-associated urinary tract infections however good catheter care can reduce this risk.
  • Encourage fluid intake to increase flow of urine and prevent the urine from becoming concentrated.
  • Good personal hygiene is important to reduce the risk of infection.  Gently wash the point of exit of the catheter daily with un-perfumed soap and water. For women, wash the genital area from front to back to reduce the risk of contamination.  Clean the catheter away from the point of entry to discourage germs from entering the body and causing infection.
  • Make sure the leg drainage bag is worn in a comfortable position against the thigh, knee or calf area and secured by straps or a sleeve / holder.
  • Empty the catheter bag regularly to maintain urine flow, this prevents it becoming too heavy and pulling on the catheter.
  • The catheter itself may be secured against the leg using a Statlock device stuck to the service user’s leg. Specific Statlock care instructions are available.

To empty a leg bag

  • Gather all equipment required e.g. a clean container such as a urinary bottle, tissue/ toilet paper
  • Wash hands according to hand washing guidelines, dry thoroughly and put on an apron and clean pair of gloves.
  • Empty the bag should into a clean container, or the toilet if appropriate, using the outlet tap on the bottom of the drainage bag. Take care to avoid the outlet pipe coming into contact with the container.
  • Close the outlet tap after use and then dry the outlet pipe using toilet paper to avoid contamination of skin and clothing.
  • Empty the container into the toilet and then wash and leave upside down to dry.
  • Disconnect the catheter only when absolutely necessary to reduce the risk of introducing infection.  Change leg bags once every five to seven days unless dis-coloured/dirty. Empty the bag, wrap in newspaper or place into a plastic bag and dispose of in the household waste.

Use of night drainage bag

  • At night attach a larger 2 litre drainage bag directly onto the leg bag by pushing the tubing into the rubber connector on the outlet pipe of the leg bag.  Open the outlet tap on the leg bag and allow the urine to flow through the smaller bag and be collected in the larger, night bag.
  • Use a stand for the night drainage bag to encourage effective drainage and prevent contamination.
  • Disconnect the night bag.  Close the outlet tap on the leg bag.  Disconnect the tubing from the outlet pipe. Do not remove the rubber connector from the leg bag.  Empty the night bag.  Rinse the tubing and bag with cold water to avoid odour.  Put the protective sleeve onto the connector.
  • Replace the night bag weekly.
  • Dispose of single use bags in the household waste.

After handling the catheter or drainage bag

  • Remove gloves and apron and dispose of in household waste
  • Wash hands according to hand washing guidelines

Reporting the problems with catheter care to the Care Manager:

  • leaking of urine around the outside of the catheter tubing
  • pain in the bladder or around the catheter site
  • change in the colour or odour of the urine
  • debris or clots seen in the tubing or bag
  • a noticeable change in the amount of urine passed
  • redness, inflammation and/or discharge around the catheter site
  • behavior such as confusion may be due to infection
  • a raised body temperature which may indicate an infection

If the catheter falls out contact the district nurse, GP or 111 and inform the office.

Other sources of information about catheters and catheter care:


My grandparents Dorothy & Ivan (Gus) Gardiner established Gardiner’s in 1968. Dorothy & Gus were very inclusive and ran Gardiner’s as a family business – my mother, uncle & aunt have all been involved with managing the business. Read More