Washing and personal care
As someone gets weaker they will need more help with washing. Emotionally this may be very difficult, as it signifies a loss of independence. They may need professional help or special equipment. Be aware that helping someone in and out of a bath is more difficult than people think. Seek help rather than damaging your back.
If someone is ill, immobile, or spending a long time in bed or a chair, they may find their skin becomes tender or dry. Damaged skin is a potential site of infection and pressure sores can be painful.
Tips for keeping skin healthy
- Check the person’s skin every day. Look at pressure points carefully. These are likely to be the spine, elbows, hips, heels and ears.
- Keep the bed sheets dry and free of wrinkles.
- Use a mild soap.
- Pat dry – do not rub.
- Use moisturiser.
- Encourage a change of position every 2 hours if possible.
When to seek help
If you are worried about the person's skin becoming red or sore, contact your district nurse, Hospice Clinical Nurse Specialist or doctors as soon as possible. If someone needs more help than you can provide, extra assistance can be arranged. At first, this will usually be provided by carers from Social Services/NHS or Continuing Care who can visit up to seven days a week. As someone becomes more ill, more specialised help may be needed and the district nurse or the Hospice in the Home team may be able to help. Payment is sometimes required. Speak to a healthcare professional about accessing more help if you feel you need it.