Being a Carer | Active living
How To Maintain Good Hygiene For Someone You Care For - HARTMANN
Maintaining hygiene is important, especially for those who aren't capable of doing it alone. We discuss how to maintain hygiene for someone you care for. You can also browse our range of incontinence products to find products to help manage incontinence for someone you care for.
Why Is It Important To Maintain Good Hygiene For Someone You Are Looking After?
As a carer, you already know that it is important to give to your family member or client a feeling of being loved, keep him/her clean and dry. Not only will this keep them healthier and happier, but it will also help them maintain their dignity at a time when they may feel vulnerable.
Elderly people, especially if they have other underlying health problems will benefit enormously from help with their personal hygiene, which at the same time will improve their overall sense of wellbeing. By helping them with this, you are making a positive impact on their mental and physical wellbeing.
Poor hygiene can cause all kinds of problems, including skin infections, urinary tract infections, discomfort, and itching. It can also reduce a person’s self-esteem.1 Of course, accidents might happen, but when they do, it’s important to help the person clean themselves and get into a fresh change of clothing as soon as possible.
Things To Do Regularly
As a carer, there are a few things you can do to help the person with their daily hygiene routine2:
- Wash their hands with soap and warm water after going to the toilet, and before meal times, and pat their hands dry.
- Clean and clip their finger and toe nails (unless they are diabetic. In this case, it may need to be done by a professional).
- Change any dressings or bandages that they might (This may need to be done by a professional).
- For men, shave their face, or trim their beard.
- Wash their genitals and bottom every day using a cleanser designed for intimate hygiene. Ensure that they are dry before dressing them.
- Oral hygiene. Brush their teeth at least twice a day, or ensure that their dentures are clean.
- Book them regular dental checks to ensure that their teeth and gums are in good health.
- Assist them to have a bath or shower at least twice per week. Ensure that they are fully dry before dressing.
- Provide them with clean and dry clothing to wear, including clean socks and underwear.
- Regularly wash and dry their bedding and towels.
- Apply a light moisturising lotion (suitable for their skin type) to their hands, feet, and other dry patches on their skin. This will prevent dry and cracked skin.
Don’t hesitate to ask them about their preferences. Taking a few extra moments to style their hair the way they like it will help them feel like themselves.
How Do You Help Someone Wash And Bathe?
Washing and bathing are some of the most intensely private activities in which we engage. Being washed and bathed by someone else can be embarrassing and make individuals feel embarrassed.
To respect the dignity of the person you care for, remind them that it is normal for people in their condition to need help. You’re there to be helpful, so don‘t hesitate to tell them that you don’t judge them or make them feel uncomfortable.
Some people become fearful of bathwater as they age, while others can feel overwhelmed by overhead showerheads.3 If possible, arrange to have their bathroom fitted with useful bathing and shower adaptations. These include specialised recliners and tub seats, which can go a long way in reducing anxiety around slips and falls. There are shampoo caps available which will wash peoples hair that have water phobia’s without the use of water.
In order to make the bathing experience as comfortable and pleasant as possible, follow these bathing solutions for the elderly:
- Ask them if they want and need your help, and allow them as much independence/privacy as is safe.
- Play music or a radio programme that they enjoy, and that they are familiar with.
- Use a handheld shower nozzle to help them reach all areas of their body.
- If the person is confused or disoriented, gently explain what is happening as you go.
- If the person is extremely resistant, consider trying again in a few hours. If this does not help, you may need to give them a sponge bath or bed bath. Try to use cleansing products that are gentle on the skin, and that are pH balanced to prevent dryness.
- If appropriate, consider donning your own swimming costume and demonstrate some of the washing motions. This may help to jog their memory of bathing.
Safety in the bathroom is an issue for even the most healthy and able-bodied people! Most bathrooms are quite small, and fitted with porcelain fixtures that can cause injury, and slips and falls can happen on wet floors. In order to prevent accidents in the bathroom when helping someone bathe or use the toilet, do the following:
- Keep the room a comfortable temperature so that the person isn’t trying to rush out of a cold room.
- Clean up all spilt water, and ensure that the floor is not slippery. Lay down bathmats that have rubberised backings, ensuring that they grip the floor.
- Adhere grippy stickers to the bathtub or shower cubicle floor, giving an extra amount of traction, to prevent falls.
- Test the water in the shower or bath, and ensure that it isn’t too hot. However, remember that older people feel the cold more acutely, so ensure that the temperature isn’t too cool.
- Install safety railings, raised toilet seats, bathtub chairs, and/or handrails to help them use the toilet or take a bath/shower.
- Remove the locks from the bathroom door. While it is normal to want locks on the bathroom door in order to maintain privacy, paramedics or other family members might need to access the room in an emergency.
As you care for your client or loved one, always remember to look out for your own safety. It can be very easy to slip and fall yourself as you are helping a person to get out of the tub. Your local council will likely offer courses or support designed to teach you how to safely assist another person on the toilet, and in the bath or shower.
Maintaining the Dignity of the Person You Care For
Everyone deserves their dignity.4 While you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed or even frustrated at times, try to maintain your sense of compassion as you assist them with their hygiene needs. Protect their modesty as much as possible, as some people will feel embarrassed when undressed.
Most importantly, speak to them (if possible). Give them as much freedom and autonomy as possible, and let them tell you what they feel most comfortable with. Perhaps they need less help that you have been providing, or they want a chance to bathe alone for a few moments. If you are in doubt about their capacity to do so, speak with their GP or nurse for advice.
Also important is to choose carefully the care product. Take your time to find such with comfort and availability. For example incontinence products, like our range of pull up incontinence pants for adults, should make them feel secure, offering maximum protection whilst remaining discreet.
Incontinence Product Finder
Selecting the right products is key in ensuring security and discretion. If you’re not quite sure what you need, try our product finder. It’ll ask you a few questions about your needs and then provide a list of recommended products that may help you.Find Product Incontinence Product Finder
Continence Care Tips
The NHS states that up to 1 in 3 people in the UK struggle to control their flow of urine.5 Others have functional incontinence, in which mobility issues prevent them from getting to the toilet in time.
Learn more about causes of urinary incontinence
As a result, the person you are caring for might need assistance to use the toilet, or to change their continence pads. Reassure them that you are comfortable dealing with their continence products, and that it isn’t a burden. Some people might appreciate some humour, while others might want to avoid the topic and remain silent during the process.
Speak with a continence adviser from your local health care provider for more advice. They might also be able to provide you with treatment, equipment and supplies that can help, including waterproof pants, plastic or PVC bed covers, and continence pads.
Discover more tips about how to being a carer for a family member