Saturday, 13 September 2014

How to Shower an Elderly Person - Washing

#4  – Washing your Elderly Client




The amount of Personal Care assistance you need to provide an elderly person with in the shower, depends obviously, on how capable your client still is.  I’ve had shower assistance shifts where I end up perched on the stool in the bathroom, chatting to my beloved through the shower door while they do their business and I sit there feeling completely superfluous like some sort of Peeping Tom! 

I find also in these situations that I have to resist the urge to keep asking “are you alright in there, Mrs Soapdish?”  Clearly they are able to manage – perhaps they may have had a small fall recently or some surgery and are just a little nervous to be showering alone.  But that’s a good thing - hooray for elderly independence and being able to cope with daily chores in your own home! 

(Perhaps if you’re good though Dollie, Mrs Soapdish will feel all sorry for you looking so pathetic, that she may let you feel useful again by letting you scrub her back?)

On the other hand however… I've assisted aged adults who need a dam whole lotta help!  These are the most worrying kind of shower assistance duties because quite honestly – there’s so much that can go wrong.  It’s up to you as a trained professional careworker to put your skills into practice and to stay on the ball.  Now is not the time for short-cuts and rushing procedure because it’s your butt that needs to be covered if your client falls or something happens - as well as theirs (yes, I do get that it’s ironic for their butt to be covered when they are naked).  Make sure you do your job by the book - even if your client does get snippy with you for taking so long to set up the bathroom or that you’re fluffing round with boring old rubber mats etc. 

Not only do you have to escort a very frail elderly client into the shower recess, but you find you will more than likely have to stay for the duration, ie: actually in the shower with them.  And there’s only so much water a plastic apron will protect you from!  But of course it’s not about YOU having to put up with wet socks for the rest of the day – it’s about looking after your client and getting them washed, dressed and set up for their day.  

Don’t forget though, if you feel they are not managing well and you are concerned that their condition has deteriorated, then you should definitely report your observations and/or thoughts to the higher powers that be. 

Generally speaking though, most shower assistance scenarios fall somewhere between these two extremes and the steps to showering another person are pretty much the same as how you, more than likely, shower yourself at home (give or take… depending if you’re late for work or not)

In this order as follows:

  • Face is always first (some ladies may have separate ‘face only’ washcloths)
  • Torso, Chest/Boobs, Underarm, Arms, Hands, Fingers
  • Back
  • Front Bum 
  • Legs & Bottom (handy if they stand up for you at this stage)
  • Tootsies!

Depending if today is hair-washing day or not, most clients like to get that done either a firm FIRST or a firm LAST – you will have already discussed this and slotted it in accordingly.  Basically, you should be guided by your elderly client, keep the chit-chat going and for gawd sake SMILE.  I wouldn’t want a frowning, grumpy-bum carer touching my privates – would you? 

Speaking of ‘privates’ … a special mention to the washing of an adult person’s groinal areas (don’t make me say genitalia PLEASE).  Remember, the people you are assisting are not in a Nursing Home so therefore should still be perfectly capable of washing their own bottoms…although you may have to soap up the washcloth for them first.  

But thankfully, most will attend to their own 'special' regions themselves.  Elderly men especially, can feel quite modest and shy at shower time, but you’ll find most are more than able to wash their own willies with minimal fuss and no discussion required.  

I have to say though, it amazes me how many different terms my clients come up with when referring to their private parts.  And it’s always a bit of a giggle you can share with your client, especially when they spring a new one on you!    

Some of my faves are:  
Glory Box, Family Jewels, The Privy Council, Petticoat Lane, My Gentleman’s Area, the Old Fella, my Lady Garden and my Ding Dong (will leave you to work it out which one is what) 

All silliness aside, assisting an older adult to shower (especially if they become your regular client) can be an ideal time for noticing any changes to their physical appearance – meaning observations that might indicate something might be afoot with their health.  

Things like bruises or pain, or maybe their movement being more restricted or slower than usual.  Ask them about it (tactfully) but more importantly ALWAYS REPORT IT.  Other things you can note are general maintenance stuff like overgrown toenails that need trimming, hair that needs cutting, or anything else out of the norm that just doesn't sit right.  Always listen to your ‘little voice’ and pass your thoughts on to someone in charge if it bothers you.

There's a story we were told about a carer who’s client had confided in her that she’d bumped her head after a slight tumble earlier that day.  

"But I'm perfectly fine now and there's nothing to worry about, so pleeeeease don’t tell my daughter as she will only make a fuss.”  Elderly people don’t like to look like they are struggling so are loath to tell family members for fear of being labelled as ‘not coping’. 

Anyhoo, the carer in the story chose not to pass the information on and sadly, the client ended up dying of a brain aneurysm a week later.  Yes, I know - terrible! Many meetings were held, the family sued in all directions and the care-worker lost her job.  Just a ghastly set of circumstances on all fronts.  

Moral of the story:  cover your butt and report EVERYTHING.

But back to the Shower at hand….

Last but not least, when you’ve finished thoroughly cleansing your client, it is most important to ensure you have washed all the soap from their body.  If you didn’t know already, residue soap on older skin can easily cause a rash or nasty irritation… which can lead onto infection… which can lead on to your darling Beloved doing a stint in hospital on strong medication and all because of a little bit of forgotten soap under the rim.

That's why a hand-held shower hose is so...well, handy.  It gives the client something to hold onto and be in charge of and also they can be washing off the soap lather as you go.

Why, it’s just about as important as making sure you've dried all the moisture from between your elderly client’s toes.  But we can discuss that further in the Drying chapter of this small, rambling novella, can’t we.

Rub-a-Dub-DUB!



Elderly at shower time
The perfect bathing companion!


Cheers
Dollie



2 comments:

  1. thanks for the helpful &realistic advice-will try it out on my own mum!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for your valuable information. Elder will need proper care. People will need to make their house specially bathroom. I think
    aged-care-bathroom will help you to make decision.

    ReplyDelete