Personal care includes everyday tasks that enable you to stay in your own home. These include getting dressed, washing and being able to use the toilet.
Dressing and undressing
If you find dressing difficult, there are a number of things you can try to help you remain independent and make this task more convenient:
- Choose clothes that are loose fitting, stretchy clothing such as T-shirts and fabric that help to make dressing easier such as clothes made from knitted or jersey fabrics as they are often easier to manage.
- Skirts and trousers with elasticated waistbands are often easier to wear.
- You may prefer clothing without buttons and zips, however zip fastenings can be quicker and easier than buttons, although zips can be difficult to align. Loops can be added to zip tags to make them easier to grip and fasten.
Washing, showering and bathing
There are a few things that you can do yourself to help with washing, showering and bathing, if you are able:
- Put a non-slip mat in your bathtub and shower to help prevent falls.
- Obtain handrails to help you get in and out of the bath.
- Keep the bathroom floor dry, making sure it has no water on it. A shower curtain will help ensure that no water leaks onto the floor.
- Your bathroom should be well lit during the day and night.
- Equip your shower with a handheld or adjustable shower head if it can be thermostatically controlled. You can manoeuvre it where you want it, minimising your movement in the shower. Don't use a rubber shower attachment as you may burn yourself.
- Put items you use regularly in easy reaching distance so you don't have to stand on steps, bath edges or move around a lot to reach them.
- Take your time. The more you rush, the more likely you are to fall.
It may be a good idea for you to talk to an Occupational Therapist on 020 7974 4000 to discuss any issues you may have with showering, washing or bathing.
If equipment won't meet your needs you may want to consider adapting your facilities such as having a ramp or shower hoist fitted. The Equipment and technology to help you section has more details, including information about the Disabled Facilities Grant for people that do not live in Council properties.
Using the toilet
Using the toilet is a function that most people take for granted and if assistance is required it can cause distress, however there are some things you can do to help:
- Make sure the way to the toilet is well lit at night.
- Consider use of a commode or other appropriate equipment at night if you are unable to access bathroom or toilet facilities.
- Consider if a special frame, rails or a higher seat would help you get on and off the toilet.
- Never use a walking frame to hold onto whilst standing from a toilet, as it is not designed for this purpose and could easily tip over.
By using equipment, independence could be regained. While in other situations more complex solutions may be required please speak to an Occupational Therapist to help you decide what would be best for you.
To contact an Occupational Therapist call the Access and Response Team on 020 7974 4000 (option 1).
If you have incontinence issues the The Bladder and Bowel Foundation can give you information and advice as well as the NHS Choices website which provides useful information. You can also talk to your GP about your symptoms who can assess your symptoms, give general advice, provide information and provide treatment.