The importance of personal care activities
Personal care is an important part of a person’s life, it maintains personal hygiene, reduces the risk of infection, supports the maintenance of skin integrity and increases confidence to engage socially. It can also help with a person’s self-image and forms a key part of a person’s meaningful routine and subsequent independence. Therefore, the importance of personal care activities and maintenance cannot be underestimated.
A person’s ability to conduct personal care can vary in different ways depending on the impairment and subsequent disability. As health professionals we are always looking for solutions to aid people in maintaining their independence and dignity with regards to personal care as part of an holistic assessment.
Getting in and out of the bath is a very common problem, particularly as we get older and our joints become less mobile.
Getting down safely to such a low level and being able to get safely out again can become quite hazardous, and consequently can leads to falls and injuries, decreased confidence, anxiety and increased dependence on a carer. For some, bathing is important for more than personal care, as people often bathe for relaxation purposes or to relieve chronic joint and muscle pain.
A bath lifter offers free access into the bath for an individual who can transfer, but not necessarily lower themselves into or get up out of a bath. I’ve been recommending bath lifters such as the Aquatec Orca for many years. It’s important to have a product like this, as it is both easy to install and easy for an individual or carer to use.
Easy to use controls are a must and a comfortable, non-slip cover can offer comfort and safety when bathing. The Aquatec Orca has a sliding board attachment, the Aquatec Trans, which can help people transfer laterally onto the device and is also another useful feature for those who lack upper body strength.
For those who are more dependent, for example those who are hoisted or use mechanical or non-mechanical transfer aids, a shower chair commode such as the Aquatec Ocean is an ideal solution for wet room or level access shower areas.
It’s modular, height-adjustable design lends itself to being tailored to individual client’s needs. This design supports patient comfort and personal care needs, enabling greater access for carers. The commode aperture supports toileting, and the height-adjustment enables greater access to support personal care by carers, as do the swing away arms and detachable footrests.
It’s also important to consider the weight of a product and it's materials for ease of cleaning.
Another important aspect of personal care that can cause distress for people is the ability to toilet unaided.
I have been involved with many people who can transfer, however do not have the required joint range of movement, muscle strength, core balance or coordination to enable independent hygiene following a bowel movement.
However, recently products that fit directly onto existing toilets such as the Aquatec Pure Bidet have become increasingly popular. This technology fits onto most existing toilets and is easy to install, looking particularly unobtrusive and non-medical. It uses a warm water spray to clean the person following the opening of their bowels, reducing any potential embarrassment and again reducing the potential need for carer or family support, which can have a significant impact on a person’s self-image and dignity.