The maintenance of personal hygiene is essential as it helps to preserve the health and overall wellbeing of individuals. Not only is this directly beneficial to the personal health of the individual but also to those coming into contact. Poor personal hygiene can not only result in physical issues but can also affect an individual emotionally and socially. Physical effects:
Sores or rashes occurring on surface of skin
Itchiness resulting in scratching leading to broken skin
Infections or diseases developing with the potential of spreading to others Bacterial and fungal infections head lice internal infections such as gastroenteritis caused by unclean hands
Social and emotional effects:
Loss of confidence leading to lack of social contact and inability to form new social relationships Upset occurring due to potential bullying
Damage to self-esteem and/or self-image
Depression and/or anxiety
Unable to find employment (although not applicable from client perspective)
Signs of poor personal hygiene:
Dirty/ unclean clothing
Messy and/ or dirty hair
Overgrown facial hair
Decaying/ unclean teeth
Foul body odour
Long and dirty finger nails
Greasy and/or dirty appearance to skin
Be able to support individuals to maintain personal hygiene
Factors that contribute to positive personal hygiene:
Residents should be encouraged to wash hands after using the toilet and should be both encouraged and if needed, assisted with washing and dressing into clean clothing. The home should provide adequate laundry facilities to keep clothes clean and distributed to bedrooms ready to wear. Staff should also provide services to keep finger nails clean and cut. Baths and showers should also be made readily available upon request. Washing facilities should be made available in bedrooms particularly for more independent residents along with clean towels and flannels, etc.
Personal hygiene issues should be addressed in a sensitive manner and residents should be asked and encouraged to bath, etc. Assistance should be offered if needed in a discreet way and residents should be attended to in a private location
Personal hygiene should be tactfully encouraged not only for the benefit of the individual but for the benefit of others around them. Staff should approach the individual in a private place such as the privacy of their bedroom and sensitively bring about the issue of personal hygiene. If appropriate, questions should be tactfully asked to determine if factors such as depression is the cause of hygiene neglect. If so, steps should be taken to resolve this. Service users should be reassured that help is always available
I can support the preferences and needs of the individual while maintaining their independence by:
Encouraging independence and allow individuals to undertake personal care in the way they feel most comfortable Support individuals to communicate their preferences, views and needs regarding personal hygiene Treating all residents as individuals and respecting their preferences, including what they want to wear, when they want to get up, etc. Talk residents through all stages of personal care and meeting any objection by explaining reasons that I have for promoting their own health. Providing toiletries that conform to residents wishes
Staff should be aware of individuals’ care plans to ensure that the person you are assisting is being supported appropriately to promote their rights, respect, dignity, choices, that take into consideration their culture, beliefs and preferences. Assisting residents to make informed choices- eg- giving them options
Describe how to maintain dignity of an individual when supporting intimate personal hygiene:
Making sure privacy is maintained, eg- curtains closed, door shut Forming trust- making sure both sides understand what’s going on and a good standard of communication is maintained Making sure staff stay professional- don’t make faces of distaste or inappropriate comments during personal care Remain respectful when carrying our assistance- be aware of abuse Be sympathetic and empathise with potential embarrassment
Avert eye contact to avoid embarrassment
Be gentle and understanding throughout duration of personal care Making sure residents are appropriately covered up- eg- if unable to wash or dress themselves- make sure a towel is covering intimate body parts.
Identify risks to own health in supporting an individual with personal hygiene routines:
The risks are- potentially catching infections from skin to skin contact or diseases from direct contact with bodily fluids, etc.
Reduce risks to own health when supporting the individual with personal hygiene routines:
Risks to own health can be reduce by implementing the correct control techniques- eg, wearing the appropriate protective clothing (aprons/ gloves) and washing hands thoroughly after personal care.
Identify others who may be involved in supporting the individual to maintain personal hygiene:
The individual- Is the key individual in maintaining personal hygiene and decides how to approach the situation.
Colleagues- may need the assistance from one or more carers- eg- if the resident has physical disabilities, etc. sometimes a different face can be encouraging if the resident is uncomfortable with the first offer of help (male- female).
Families or friends- might be more inclined to take hygiene advice from loved ones. Also, families may bring in toiletries for relatives.
Other professionals- such as D/N may have advice in the maintenance of hygiene. Management can amend care plan to help support carers.
Advocates- can give consent to personal hygiene attempts if residents themselves are unable to give permission.
Understand when poor hygiene may be an indicator of other underlying personal issues
Factors of underlying personal issues:
Financial issues- can’t afford to buy toiletries or other sanitary products Abuse- can cause depression and a lack of want to maintain personal hygiene Health issues such as dementia or physical disabilities can cause an inability to take care of own personal hygiene. Medication- certain medications may cause tiredness or confusion making the maintaining personal hygiene difficult.
Underlying personal issues can be addressed in a number of ways:
Changing medication where possible to alternative prescriptions where side effects are less dramatic therefore making the control of hygiene possible. Providing adequate assistance when dealing with personal hygiene- eg, carers Alert social services and adult protection agencies to combat cases of abuse where expected. Encourage and inform individuals of ways to promote personal hygiene in a respectful manner Contact families of residents regarding monetary funds
Provide sufficient facilities for the purpose of personal hygiene Keeping up to date records of hygiene to help follow a routine
Courtney from Study Moose
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