One of the most challenging responsibilities that home health workers have when taking of the elderly is providing personal care. Maintaining personal hygiene and grooming while promoting independence are vital to enabling the elderly patient to feel the best about his or her own self, as well as maintaining dignity and self-confidence.
The level of assistance that needs to be provided varies per patient – there are elderly patients who will need to be prompted to wash hands after using the toilet while others will not need prompting. In the getting-to-know phase, you will be able to assess the level of assistance needed by each patient.
Before assisting in personal care, discuss the plan of care with the elderly patient. Discuss expectations. For example, ask if he or she will be comfortable with you helping with bathing, also ask about schedule, what time of the day he or she wants to be bathed. If the patient is uncertain about what he or she prefers, guide by providing recommendations, then let them decide. Communication is the key.
There may be some personal grooming tasks that the patient can do without assistance, so empower him or her by allowing to perform tasks that he or she is able to do. When bathing or dressing, allow him or her to hold a towel around his or her body.
Install non-slip mats on the floor and make sure hand rails are installed so the elderly can move around in the bathroom safely.
If the patient has bladder or bowel incontinence, he or she has an increased risk for developing skin infections and other skin problems. Make sure that wet pads are changed regularly. Provide proper skin care by making sure that the skin is kept clean and dry.
Because looking good will make a person feel good, make sure that the patient’s hair, nails and skin are all well taken care of. Assist with scheduling salon visits if applicable. This gives the elderly a positive feeling about him or herself – which in helps achieve a better mental outlook.