5 Safety Tips for Showering Clients at Home
The most common cause of fatal and non-fatal injury for the elderly is falls. Falls are the leading cause of death due to injury among the elderly. According to the Centers for Disease Control, every 20 minutes an older adult dies from a fall in the United States. As the caregiver, you will want to ensure that your client does not fall on your watch and remains safe during the bathing process. Here are 5 safety tips for showering clients at home that will help you prevent falls.
1. Never leave the client alone
If you are needing to assist a client with limited mobility or illness, you will need be present with the client during the bathing process. Clients may feel they can bathe alone. You can certainly encourage them to bathe themselves by handing them the cloth or soap, but it is your job to keep them safe. Be aware that clients needing assistance may often feel weak or faint while in the shower. Oftentimes they do not have their oxygen in place while taking a shower which contributes to their weakness and lack of endurance. Their disease may also be so debilitating that they are more easily fatigued. A patient with dementia may not be making appropriate decisions causing them to be at increased risk of a fall. All of these conditions can lead to falling in the shower.
2. Organization is the key
You need to begin with a list of your supplies. This list will include towels, body soap, shampoo, washcloths, shavers, brush, briefs, clean clothes, and plastic bag for used clothes. All of your supplies should be in placed before the client enters the bathroom. This will help ensure that you do not need to leave the client.
3. Modify equipment for safety
You will need a shower chair/bench to place in a shower or tub. A handheld shower wand can easily replace a shower head. A resting chair in the bathroom is helpful, should your client get overly tired or faint. If the client feels lightheaded have them sit immediately, and assess for a few minutes before standing. If the client has difficulty with standing or mobility, you will need a safety bar or grab bar installed in shower.
4. Check the water temperature
Once your client is seated, hold the nozzle down away from the person to turn on the water. Once you have adjusted the temperature, make sure you feel the water on your wrist. If you have gloves on, you will not be able to accurately assess temperature through the gloves. If the water temperature seems satisfactory, then have the client hold out their wrist and attest to the temperature not being too hot or too cold. Then begin slowly placing the water on the person, again asking if the temperature is comfortable for them.
5. Non-skid shoes
Make sure you have nonskid shoes on your client when getting in and out of the shower to ensure that they do not slip. Clean up any excess water that may have spilled before the client steps onto the floor. Adequate lighting is also helpful. Check that the walkways are clear of hazards. Make sure that the loose rugs on the floor are secure. You can place double-sided tape on them or simply remove them from the bathroom area if needed.