Some safety tips
Being a family caregiver sometimes means supporting loved ones in their hygiene care, a task that involves many risks for both yourself and others. How to ensure that it is carried out in complete safety, while promoting the autonomy of the person you are accompanying?
First, a large part of safety is related to the environment in which care is provided. Several technical aids can be used to make these daily activities easier.
Then, methods and techniques can be employed to maximize the safety of the caregiver and the caregiver.
Above all, the essential lies in the relationship of trust and respect that must be present between the two people who share this type of intimacy.
A suitable bathroom to avoid the risk of injury
The general instruction for hygiene care remains to avoid standing in the bathtub or shower, which involves many risks, especially when it comes to falls.
Here are some technical aids and adaptations that can prevent falls: http://asstsas.qc.ca/sites/default/files/publications/documents/b_salle_de_bain_sad_2015.pdf
- Bath transfer boards: Getting into the bath can sometimes be risky. The use of a transfer board, with or without a backrest, makes it easier to get into a seated position.
- Transfer chairs or benches: these aids can be installed in both a bathtub or a shower. They allow the person to do all of their care while seated.
- Removable shower heads - handheld showers with a switch-off: this type of head prevents the person from having to move to rinse themselves in addition to controlling the water supply. Some of them can be installed near the taps when the person needs to do their care while seated.
- Non-slip mats: they are the ideal allies to avoid slipping. Suction cup models should be given priority for the inside of the bathtub, since they hold more firmly in place. Regular non-slip mats, however, can be used outside the tub or shower.
Grab bars can be installed to help people in their transfers. Wall bars, installed vertically inside the tub, are ideal to allow it to step over.
The diagonal bars, installed on the interior walls, are useful for both support during treatment or to position themselves more easily on boards and transfer chairs.
Removable handles are also available for the rim of the tub to help people get up from a sitting position.
Regardless of which bars will be preferred, their installation must be done safely so that they are well anchored and stable.
For more advice on adapting your bathroom, here is a very interesting documentation to consult.
In order to ensure that the work carried out is safe and adapted to your common reality, consultation with experts in the field is essential. Whether by taking advice from health professionals, such as occupational therapists, or from specialists in specialized stores, do not hesitate to ask questions in order to obtain the best products and learn about their installation and use.
Gestures and techniques to facilitate hygiene care
Do not exceed your limits
The risk of falls and injury is great when practicing home hygiene care. In hospitals and in care centers, all the attendants have specialized training in this area. So, supporting a loved one in their home hygiene routine does not mean full responsibility for their care. Caution is always the order of the day and seeking advice on how to learn how to do this or obtaining support services is a must. Pursuing home care without professional help, knowing your limits and those of the other, is a trap to be avoided at all costs.
Note that it is possible to obtain home help services, such as occupational therapy, through the CLSC or the community health center in your area. In all cases, professionals will come and analyze the support needs that you and your loved one have, and the support services to which you are entitled to meet them. In addition, social economy enterprises offer, among other things, help with home hygiene care.
Aids and products to prevent infections
In general, hygiene care helps prevent certain infections and maintain the protective role of the skin and mucous membranes, but above all, to ensure the comfort and well-being of the person.
Some will have the reflex to space out the moments spent in the bath or shower, due to the scale and complexity of the task. Reaction which is not senseless, but which must be accompanied by other alternatives, in order to avoid the appearance of infections. The use of damp gloves allows all hygiene care to be carried out, except the hair, without the use of water. They can be used more easily and quickly than cleaning in the shower or bathtub.
Another way to prevent the spread of infections is to use specialized hygiene products. For example, when a loved living with incontinence, a commode or urinal kits can be used to facilitate the daily life activity. Of hygienic bags complement the while facilitating the collection and transportation of materials.
Establish a routine to facilitate care
Gestures are always more fluid and secure when they are part of a pre-established routine. For example, preparing and collecting all the items and products you will need will prevent you from moving around during the treatment. Make sure you have soap, shampoo, towels, washcloths, comb, razor, etc., on hand from the start. Warm the room well before your loved one arrives and test the water temperature with them, so that it is at their convenience. Also bring a dressing gown or dry, warm clothes that you will use as soon as you get out of the bath.
Create a bond of trust conducive to hygiene care
Supporting a loved one in their hygiene care, an act often marked by modesty and reluctance, requires a solid relational basis to ensure everyone's comfort.
Letting your loved one participate as much as possible in the care ritual, at the height of their abilities, is an approach that encourages dignity and autonomy. If you have to practice some or all of the care, it is best to explain to your loved one the different maneuvers that you are doing and that you are about to perform, to give them confidence.
Certain parts of the body, by their symbolism and their sensitivity, can cause discomfort between you and your parent. Washing the less sensitive parts first, such as the feet or hands, allows this introduction to gradually be introduced into the privacy of the other, gently. You can also let the person decide on the steps to follow, according to their preferences and ease.
Communication remains the key element to facilitate hygiene care. Do not hesitate to ask questions in order to validate the comfort of the other and their ability to perform certain tasks or certain movements.
Preserve your autonomy as long as possible
In the next article, we will give some tips to stay active as long as possible in the care that concerns us. How to participate optimally, despite the assistance that we may receive? How can you encourage your loved one to carry on certain activities of daily life, despite their loss of autonomy? We will try to answer these questions through concrete and practical contextualizations.
- Directory of CLSCs in Quebec
- Directory of Community Health Centers
- Directory of home help cooperatives (Quebec)
- Home adaptation program (Quebec)
- Adapted Housing for Independent Seniors Program (Canada)
- The joint association for occupational health and safety in the social affairs sector (brochure on the organization of the bathroom for home care)
The article written by Gabrielle Coulombe