What is personal care?
For many people first starting out in a new care job, personal care can seem quite daunting. In this blog, we’ll be explaining exactly what is involved in personal care as a Care Assistant and some of the reasons why people may need help with personal care.
What does personal care involve?
Personal care is tailored to the needs of the individual you are caring for. When we first take on new care packages and clients, we work with them and other people involved in their care such as social workers, GP’s or family members to create a personalised care plan, which will list their needs and what the responsibilities of the carer will be.
Personal care may include:
- Assistance with getting up and going to bed
- Support with washing, oral care, bathing and dressing
- Haircare and shaving
- Skincare and care of toenails/fingernails
- Assisting with visits to the toilet or changing incontinence aids
- Help with housework, including washing up, cleaning and laundry
- Cooking meals and helping with feeding if necessary
- Prompting and administering medication
Why do people require Personal Care?
There are lots of reasons that people might need or want personal care.
Some people may need some help because of mobility difficulties. This might make it hard for them to get up by themselves, or they may need assistance in the bath or shower.
Others may have home care visits because they need some support in remembering to do certain tasks – for example, if they have a diagnosis of dementia or need to take a lot of medication on a regular basis.
Some people may need a short visit a couple of times a week while others might need 24-hour care. Their care plan will explain their exact needs and personalised checklists of things to do during your care visits.
Care plans are reviewed regularly, both at scheduled times and if needs change – for example, if a client has an injury, operation or need to go into hospital.
Who delivers personal care?
Care can be delivered by friends or relatives, or by paid care workers. They’re sometimes known as care assistants, support workers or personal assistants, depending on their location and employer.
As a Care Assistant you will have regular training to make sure that you’re providing the best care possible. This training may include sessions on moving and handling, safeguarding, first aid, and specialist courses on conditions such as dementia and epilepsy. You may also study towards other qualifications such as a diploma or NVQ’s.
Why is personal care important?
Personal care helps maintain a person's dignity, health and wellbeing. Good hygiene and personal care reduces the risk of infection and illness, it can also prevent pre-existing conditions from getting worse. For example, many elderly people suffer from skin conditions that will become much worse without daily moisturising or treatment creams.
It is particularly important that as a care assistant you adopt a sensitive and compassionate approach in all aspects of your work. Many service users may feel considerable embarrassment or frustration in having to receive personal care.
Personal preferences will be included in a service users notes - how someone wants their hair to look, how they want to dress and how a woman wants their make-up applied are intensely personal decisions and as a care assistant you should always try to respect their wishes.
How to provide good personal care
There are a few things you can do as a Care Assistant to provide a good level of personal care:
- Talk through what care is being provided, ensuring your client knows what you are doing and why
- Listen to someone's wishes throughout
- Prepare and arrange tasks in a similar order to provide routine, familiarity and comfort
- Create a happy, safe environment when dealing with personal tasks
- Maintain levels of independence where possible - don't just do everything for someone just because it seems easier or quicker
- Check that your client has everything they need and encourage them to buy toiletries/sanitary items if they are running out
Many of our carers will admit they were nervous at first when learning about this aspect of the role - but they soon realised that it was a vital aspect of helping people to feel clean and comfortable and good about themselves. It becomes second nature and the reward of better outcomes and happier clients as a result of this care definitely outweighs any negatives!