BACKGROUND previous UK National Audits of Continence Care showed low rates of assessment and treatment of faecal incontinence (FI) in older people. OBJECTIVE the 2009 audit assessed adherence to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines on management of FI and compared care in older versus younger patients. METHODS fifteen older (65+) and 15 younger (18-65) patients with FI were to be audited in hospital (inpatient or outpatient), primary care (PC) and care home sites. RESULTS data were submitted for n = 2,930 cases from 133 hospitals, n = 1,729 from 97 PC surgeries and n = 693 from 63 care homes. Bowel history was not documented in 41% older versus 24% younger patients in hospitals and 27 versus 19% in PC (both P < 0.001). In older people, there was no documented focused examination in one-third in hospitals, one-half in PC and three-quarters in care homes. Overall, <50% had documented treatment for an identified bowel-related cause of FI. FI was frequently attributed to co-morbidity. Few patients received copies of their treatment plan. Quality-of-life impact was poorly documented particularly in hospitals. CONCLUSIONS this national audit shows deficits in documented assessment, diagnosis and treatment for adults with FI despite availability of clinical guidance. Overall care is significantly poorer for older people. Clinicians, including geriatricians, need to lead on improving care in older people including comprehensive assessment where needed. Improvement in some indicators in older people with successive audits suggests that ongoing national audit with linked information resources can be useful as both monitor and agent for change.