As any family Carer or Professional Carer will know, helping an older person with showering or bathing can come with some fear or embarrassment for both parties. Bear in mind that always you want to maintain the person’s privacy, dignity and independence as much as possible. It might take longer than it used to for the person to do something for themselves, but the benefits far outweigh the extra time.
As with many aspects of caring for older people, you should take your lead from the person you are caring for and provide positive reinforcement for the skills they are able to do themselves.
A few practical tips are as follows.
- Prepare the environment and yourself before starting.
- Gather everything you need such as a change of clothes, towels, toiletries, and a hoist if relevant.
- The room should be warm and draught free and private with any blinds closed, and brightly lit so you can both see what you are doing.
- Have a bin at hand in case it is needed.
- Wash hands thoroughly before starting.
Assisting with a bath
Baths are generally safer than showering:
- Follow the general preparation guidelines (see above).
- Ask the person if they would like to use the toilet before starting.
- Check the bath is clean and run both hot and cold taps.
- Add desired bath oil or bubble bath if required and check the temperature of the water.
- Check the bathroom floor is dry and not slippery.
- Put bathmat down to prevent slips.
- Assist with undressing, getting into the bath and using a hoist if required.
- Use different coloured clothes/flannels for washing the genital area, and the face and body.
- Start with face and neck and ears cleansing. Dry with towel.
- Change flannels and wash trunk, chest, back arms, legs, feet, under the breasts, underskin folds, under the arms and lastly the genital and anal area and rinse thoroughly.
- Let the water out and assist the person out. Use a hoist if required.
- Wrap a large towel around them immediately.
- Dry the person thoroughly paying particular attention to folds of flesh. Assist with dressing and ensure they keep warm.
- When the person is warm and dry, clean the bath dispose of rubbish and ensure there is no water or oil on the floor to prevent slippages.
Assisting with Showering
- General preparation is the same as for a bath.
- Ensure there are handrails and a non-slip mat if required.
- Ensure there is a comfortable shower seat available if required.
- If the shower seat has wheels, apply the breaks.
- Ensure the room is warm and check the temperature of the water.
- Allow the person to use the shower head to wash themselves if possible
- Wash using the same guidelines as outlined in ’assisting with bathing’.
- Dry the person and clear up as previously described.
- Keep water away from persons face as this can be frightening.