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Keeping well: washing and skincare

Maintaining good personal hygiene and keeping the skin in good condition is important for several reasons such as:

  • a sense of well being and comfort
  • prevention of infection and
  • prevention of pressure sores.

Notes for carers

  • check the person’s skin every day – observe pressure points carefully (spine, elbow, hips, heels and ears)
  • keep bed sheets dry and free of wrinkles
  • use a mild soap
  • pat skin dry, do not rub
  • use a moisturiser
  • encourage a change in position every two hours if possible and
  • if the person’s skin becomes red or sore, inform your district nurse as soon as possible.

As someone gets weaker they will need more help. Emotionally this may be very difficult for them as it signifies a loss of independence. They may need professional help or special equipment. In order to make things easier some equipment may need to be organised to help you, e.g. for bathing or managing the toilet. The St Christopher’s nurse or district nurse may make a referral for an occupational therapist’s assessment. The occupational therapist will be able to advise on managing activities of daily living and will organise specialist equipment if needed. Ask your St Christopher’s nurse for further information.

If someone needs more help than you can provide, this can be arranged. A district nurse will make an assessment as to the most appropriate arrangements. At first, this care will usually be provided by Social Service carers who, depending on need, can visit up to seven days a week. As someone becomes more ill more specialised help may be needed and the district nurse may be able to help.