Principles of Supporting an Individual to Maintain Personal Hygiene

Outcome 1: Personal hygiene means the cleaning and grooming of the external body to make sure the skin, nails and hair are in a good condition. This is done to keep the body and hair clean and free from infections. Through eating, drinking, coughing, sneezing, sweating and elimination of urine and excrement the body needs cleaning to prevent infection, discomfort and odours. From maintaining a high standard of personal hygiene an individual feels clean, presentable and comfortable. Through looking presentable and feeling clean an individual’s self esteem and self respect rises.

There is less chance of infections developing and therefore the external body is healthier. 1:2 Describe the effects of poor personal hygiene on health and well being Bodily Odours – Poor personal hygiene can lead to unpleasant body odours, leaving the individual feeling depressed, with low self esteem and low confidence. It can also lead to the individual being isolated by friends. Oral – Poor personal hygiene in the mouth can lead to tooth decay and gum problems. If the teeth are not cleaned properly or regularly or the individual is frail, ill or dehydrated they could become sore or get fungal infections and gum disease.

Hands and feet – If the hands and feet are not cleaned regularly it can lead to infections. Hands harbour lots of germs especially under the nails and if they are not cleaned regularly these germs can be transmitted and spread infection. Micro organisms can grow in the warm, moist in-between toes and cause infections such as athlete’s foot. Armpits – Armpits need to be cleaned regularly and thoroughly as the body produces sweat. Poor hygiene under the arms can lead to bad odours and fungal infections. Groin, pubic and perianal – The Groin, pubic and perianal areas are the areas that are affects by elimination of urine and excrement.

These areas need to be washed and dried thoroughly especially those who have catheters or are incontinent, to minimise the risk of fungal and bacterial infections, bad odours, sores and general skin breakdown.

Outcome 2: Know how to encourage an individual to maintain personal hygiene 2:1 Explain how to address personal hygiene issues with an individual in a sensitive manner without imposing own values When addressing an individual about personal hygiene issues I would do so in a calm way. Speaking clearly and calmly, not making a big deal about it.

If the individual way ill it would be up to the staff to attend the individual’s hygiene needs and assess what needs they have. The staff need to take into account the individuals preferences and culture. In this situation I must ensure I do not put my personal experiences on the individual and respect their decisions on how they wish to be cared for. 2:2 Describe how to make an individual aware of the effects of poor personal hygiene I would look at the individual’s health and see if there was any reason other than poor hygiene that may explain things.

I would speak with my colleagues and see what they thought but I would do this whilst maintaining confidentiality. When assisting the individual with their personal care needs i would explain why it is important to wash and to put on clean clothes and how it prevents infections etc. I would do so in a calm sensitive manner, asking the individual for their opinion. I would take into account any personal reasons, culture and experiences the individual may have about personal hygiene and see if I could find a way that reduces the risk of infection without taking away the individual’s rights.

2:3 Describe how to support an individual to develop and improve personal hygiene routines. Whilst assisting an individual with their personal hygiene I try to be sensitive and avoid personal remarks. I listen to the individual about how they like things to be done and take into account their wishes and choices. I speak in a way the individual understands and give them time to answer and talk. I try to provide the individual with information about what may happen if they do not way, however I do this in a calm and sensitive way.

I am aware that the individual has the right to refuse to carry out personal care but it is my job to ensure they understand what the consequences could be. I ensure everything is written factually and legibly in the individuals care plan.

Outcome 3: Know how to support an individual to maintain personal hygiene 3:1 Identify factors that contribute to good personal hygiene There are many ways of maintaining good personal hygiene, as a carer I have a duty to encourage individuals to keep clean. Having a daily shower or wash helps get rid of any dead skin and micro organisms living there.

Applying moisturiser to the skin helps keep it healthy and soft. It is important to wash hair regularly to keep it healthy and to keep the scalp clean. Changing clothes and washing clothes regularly is important and it stops any germs being passed on, also, it makes the individual feel fresh and comfortable. Individuals nails should be cut and kept clean to stop germs living under them and spreading infection. 3:2 Explain how to support the preferences and needs of the individual while maintaining their independence When assisting an individual I must assess how much help they need and take into account their preferences and wishes.

While giving personal care i do the following:

  • Identify any health and safety risks and try to minimise them
  • Ask the individual if the level of care they are receiving is okay for them
  • Encourage the individual to do as much as possible independently
  • Encourage the individual to make choices
  • Work with the individual to give the appropriate level of care
  • Set realistic achievable goals 3:3

Describe how to maintain dignity of an individual when supporting intimate personal hygiene When I am assisting an individual with the personal care I talk to them about what we are going to do before we start and throughout.

When I am carrying out tasks such as showering an individual I ensure the bathroom door is kept closed and no one enters unless the individual has given consent. If another person does come in the room whilst I am delivering personal care I cover up the individual with towels to keep them warm and for their dignity. Depending on the individual I leave them alone for short periods of time for privacy but check on them regularly e. g. an individual having a bowel motion. I encourage the individual to do as much for themselves as possible but do not make a big deal if they cannot.

Whilst giving personal care to a particular part of the body I ensure the rest of the body is covered up so the individual maintains their dignity. I am careful when washing an individual so I do not hurt them and I talk in a calm manner. I do not rush the individual as this is their time. 3:4 Describe risks to own health in supporting personal hygiene routines As I support individuals to do a wide range of personal hygiene tasks I am at risk of infection, contamination and injury. I assist individuals with their washing, showering, dressing, toileting and use aids and equipment.

If I do not follow the policies and procedures put in place to minimise the risks I put myself and others in danger. 3:5 Describe how to reduce risks to own health To minimise the risks to my health whilst supporting an individual it is important that I read the individual’s care plan so I am aware what I need to do. I need to read the individual’s risk assessments and their manual handling plan. It is important that the individual is happy to do the task and the environment is clear of any obstacles that may be dangerous or get in the way.

I must use the PPE provided and the equipment like I was trained. It is important that I work in my sphere of competence and work safely. If I have any problems I speak to my manager. 3:6 Identify others that may be involved in supporting an individual to maintain personal hygiene When an individual arrives at our organisation or goes from self caring to requiring assistance myself and my colleagues carry out a visual assessment on how much support the individual needs. We also obtain information from the individuals family, friends and other professionals involved. These can be social workers, GP’s, nurses, and occupational therapists.

Outcome 4: Understand when poor hygiene may be an indicator of other underlying personal issues 4:1 Identify underlying personal issues that may be a cause of poor personal hygiene Financial – The individual may not have money to buy cosmetics to use, they may not have clothing or be able to clean their clothes and they may be homeless.

Environment – The individual may be homeless, they may have no heating or running water Abuse – The individual may feel depressed and have low self esteem and hygiene is not important to them Mobility – individual may not be able to carry out hygiene routine Preferences – The individual’s religion or culture may affect hygiene e. g. the individual may feel uncomfortable using a shared toilet. 4:2 Describe how underlying personal issues may be addressed If the individual has financial issues then Social Services can assist them and they can receive the help they need.

If the individual has mental health issues or depression then I would need to encourage the individual to wash and prompt them to do things e. g. use the toilet. I would assist an individual who had poor mobility to wash and dress, use the toilet etc. I would take into account the individuals choices and if an individual did not like sharing a bathroom I would work with my organisation to find a way round the problem.


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  • Alam, Nurul, et al. “Mothers’ personal and domestic hygiene and diarrhoea incidence in young children in rural Bangladesh.” International journal of epidemiology 18.1 (1989): 242-247.
  • Idowu, O. A., and S. A. Rowland. “Oral fecal parasites and personal hygiene of food handlers in Abeokuta, Nigeria.” African health sciences 6.3 (2006): 160-164.

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