Final Procedures of Shower Assistance
DRYING OFF (Blimmen heck, are we there yet?!)
And of course you have all the towels already at hand to wrap round your client’s shoulders as they lunge towards you – perhaps one for wet hair if it was washed, as well as the main one for their bod.
A good idea, while they are still standing (and yes, holding onto a handrail) is to rub dry your client’s back and then travel all the way down drying their bum and the backs of their legs as well. It's a good idea to try and catch them before they crash land onto the bathroom chair with the sheer exhaustion of it all!
Therefore, it’s up to you to finish off and check for any parts that may still be moist-ish!
I make a point to re-dry areas such as the pits of the underarms, beneath a woman’s breasts (ahem... sometimes a man’s!) and other skin folds around the torso just to be sure, to be sure. You’ll find your client will appreciate such diligence because they know how essential it is to get completely dry.
And being that elderly people generally, are already compromised when it comes to immunity, the last thing they need is for gluggy wet forgotten areas of your Beloved's skin to end up all stinky and horrid.
You don’t want your poor naked pensioner having their leg drop off from gangrene because YOU didn't perform your Personal Care role properly, now do you?
(Yes that would be a worst case scenario, so let's not even go there).
Keep those tootsies dry, Dry, DRY!
These are usually the last point of attack when it comes to drying your client - so always make it count! A grand idea is to crouch on down to toe-vicinity and use the edge of the towel to zig-zag backwards and forwards in between each toe (as in a hack-saw motion) and then do it over again if you still aren't happy with having got it all.
Ensuring tootsies are completely dry is imperative because of course if toes or feet are out of action, then your client is out of action. And once an elderly adult is immobile – it’s a dam hard road for them to get back to full strength again… and sadly, some never come right.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
A good time to have a chat about this would be after you've slipped on the underwear component of their dress. This is obviously for modesty’s sake and so your client is not left feeling ill at ease with being naked and exposed to all and sundry.
Note too, that this would be the ideal moment to slip in any continence pads or special adult diaper pants into your client’s knickers. As disdainful as it seems, you WILL get used to seeing these delightful devices - although you can tell by how much your client complains that THEY goddam never will! Do you blame them?
- the dispersal of talcum powder (to keep sweaty areas dry)
- the application of moisturiser to dry skin (usually legs and arms)
- a squirt of body spray or dash of underarm deodorant
- the donning of Compression Stockings (used in an aid to assist circulation)
A point to consider during all of this Personal Care process is to be mindful of the delicateness of the skin elderly people are burdened with and how easily it will bruise (or even tear, eeek!). Especially from getting snagged on clothing, zippers or worse still – your finger nails.
So slow and steady wins the race; don’t rush things and unless your client is clearly struggling, allow them to do as much as they can on their own. Oh and don’t forget to slide any dicky limbs into sleeves or pant legs first so you aren't left battling with a floppy elbow joint or gammy leg that just won’t bend where you need it to.
Talk to your client as you go – they usually have the routine down pat, so don’t try and be a self-appointed smarty-pants. Instead, follow their lead.
FINAL GROOMING BITS
Your elderly client is now fully clad in their costume of choice so you are left with only a couple of tail-end bits n bobs to wrap things up.
These might be:
- Hearing Aids can go back in
- Offer to brush/comb hair
- Offer to blow-dry wet hair
- Do they need help with brushing teeth or dentures?
- Assistance with shaving?
- Applying makeup?
Thankfully, you will find most of your clients can handle all these fiddly extras on their own and usually prefer to attend to them once you have departed. As Mrs Harriet Hornblower likes to remind all us when we offer to help her put her deep burgundy lippy on:
“I‘m not in a nursing home yet, Honeybunch!”
Once you have chaperoned your spruced up client to the security of their favourite chair in the lounge, it is expected that the Carer then complete their duty with a brief tidy-up of the bathroom.
This would involve the likes of:
- Disposal of dirty towels, soiled clothing etc into the laundry
- Hanging up rubber mats so they don't become all manky and start to perish
- Does the floor need a quick mop up?
- Check the heater is off
- Ditto for the fan
Isn't it comforting to know how all of us, regardless of our age, feel so much better after a nice hot shower?