Sunday, 31 August 2014

How to Shower an Elderly Person - Undressing

#3 – Undressing Your Elderly Client




STRIPPING OFF

Right then.

You've got the shower scene all set up beautifully and your client is poised in the bathroom ready for the next stage – getting undressed.  You may find though, that some of your more fit and nimble clients will have already undressed and are ‘robed up’ waiting for you.  Either they are still quite independent and need minimal assistance (except maybe a bit of your professional reassurance and tender loving guidance) – or their spouse, the primary caregiver, did it for them. 

If not, then it’s up to you, baby! 

Talk to your client and see which end they like to start with.  Most older people like to peel off their top half layers first so they can stay sitting down for as long as possible (exhausting work for some, this Shower business).

That way, standing up for removal of the bottom half layers (pants, underwear, stockings etc) can be synonymous with the effort required for stepping into the shower recess as well. Do it all-in-one-motion-kind-of-thing so there’s less exertion and therefore less unnecessary pain or uncomfy-ness for your darling Beloved. 

Depending on their circumstance and health status, you’ll need to modify the method of undressing of your client accordingly.  You would already have read their Care Plan so you would know if there are any sensitive areas to be aware of or inhibiting factors where your full attention is required.

Again I mention the unfortunate stroke victim who could have one side of their body not functioning at full capacity and therefore a technique adjustment will be required by you.  They may have a pesky arthritic shoulder that has literally ceased and so lifting an arm above their head is near impossible now.

Or maybe there is a dressing from recent surgery or perhaps a catheter or colostomy bag you need to work around.   Don’t rush the process - just be guided by your client’s abilities.

And if they want to take their own clothes off - then let them!

In fact that’s a good thing because it shows they are still coping well and can manage a lot of their own personal hygiene regimes.  Whatever the situation, it’s all about keeping your client safe and showing that they can trust in such an amazing and professional Personal Carer - hey, that’s YOU!

Once the top layers are removed (and placed somewhere strategically to NOT be tripped over later), it’s time to get their bottom layers off.  A useful trick, once the client is standing up (and preferably holding on to a rail), is to pull skirts or trousers down, stockings down, underpants down – then have the client sit back down again so you can slide all the ‘bottoms’ over and off their feet in one go.

That means less up-and-down for a weary pensioner rather than torturing them one layer at a time. 


Towels for your elderly clients shower
The Leaning Towels of Pisa


And remember (especially for a female client) that it’s always thoughtful to have a towel or robe handy to drape around her once she’s naked, so as to add a hint of dignity to the process and so she is not left feeling completely exposed like some sort of exotic pole dancer about to shake it in the spotlight.

Use your ‘carer’s initiative’ to gauge what type of person your client is – some elderly adults are painfully modest and worry dreadfully about being looked at, even by you.

Others fling it all off without flinching and are possibly more concerned that you've got the water temperature right than to care about somebody looking at them with no clothes on.  And anyway, a lot of our beloved elderly have spent so much time in hospitals or at medical specialists where they've been prodded and probed in all their various orifices, that they are now immune to the concept of ‘feeling nude’ at all.


WATER TEMPERATURE

Hand-Held Hose vs Fixed Shower Head?

There really is no contest – the hand-held jobbie wins hands-down every time (pardon the pun).  As opposed to the fixed shower head where water gushes from high above, creating an out of control situation for both you and your client.  Plus it doesn't matter how clever you are, you’ll never be able to direct the torrent of water at a suitable angle that keeps your client wet – and you dry! 

Once you've got the temperature perfectly set, it’s finally time to escort your client into their shower – HOORAY!

And of course, you would NEVER let your them plunge full force into a stream of water until you've first adjusted the temperature to the correct setting.  A bit like a child’s bath really – you’d never stick your baby into a bath you hadn't felt with your elbow first, so same deal for a mature adult.

Remember water temps can fluctuate throughout the showering process depending on the age of the house or if it’s one of those annoying antique hot water systems that’s got pipes so old, it's older than your client!  So be prepared to fiddle with it as you go – and if your client starts to shriek, that's a definite sign that something has gone array.


Check water temperature for your elderly client
Don't send your client Psycho
...with water that's too HOT!



Oh, and here's a trick that goes down well... warm the shower seat by aiming the water nozzle on it for at least half a minute before your client sits their bott-bott down.  You'll earn massive amounts of brownie points for this, I can guarantee it.

Now it really looks like you care!!

Happy Showering!


Cheers
Dollie





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