Practical advice for caregivers
Below we listed a few important pieces of advice, which hopefully will help you in providing everyday care.
Organising the surrounding space
- If possible, the person under your care should have a separate room with easy toilet access, or a commode in the room. If independent toileting is impossible, there should be a urinal, or a bedpan by the bed. People using diapers should be provided with beds that allow easy access to facilitate diaper changing.
- It is worth to set up the furniture in a way that provides the most space. There should be no obstacles or unnecessary objects on the way to the toilet.
- If possible, it is advised to mount special rails, which will help the person with limited mobility to move about, or transfer from one spot to another. It is really important to mount such rails in the bathroom.
- Place a bedside table by the bed and use it to keep the most necessary items in.
- It is a good idea to put a cabinet in the room. You can use it to store all the necessary items, medicines and care products.
Hygiene of the bedridden person
- Make sure that you have all the necessary items at hand before you start.
- Protect the bed with a special hygienic underpad before attempting to carry out the bed bath.
- Start the bath by washing the face, and then wash the ears and the neck. Proceed to washing the arms and torso. Carefully dry the parts you have washed. Do not rub the skin with a towel – rather pat the skin dry.
- Turn the person to one side to wash his or her back.
- Take care to clean between the toes when washing the feet. Remember to dry them.
- After washing the body you can apply regenerating balms and activate the skin with a massage using an activating gel.
- Protect the areas exposed to chafes and bedsores using special protective creams.
- Remember to brush the teeth/dentures after each meal and comb the hair at least once a day.
- Change your loved one’s clothes and bedding as often as necessary to avoid exposing him or her to wetness.
- Remember that the skin condition of your loved one’s depends mainly on the care you provide. Looking after your loved one’s skin by careful hygiene, using skin care products designed for that purpose, will save the bedridden person the suffering, and save you the extra work.
Time planning and everyday care
- Remember that looking after someone doesn’t only mean washing, but it also includes feeding, spending time together, and making sure that your loved one feels good.
- Every day try to find some time for conversation, entertainment for the two of you, or simply rest together with your loved one. Make sure that each day includes some activities that will give you, and your loved one satisfaction. Depending on the condition of the person under your care it can be watching a movie, reading, crossword solving, playing a game or taking a walk. These will activate your loved one and let you rest.
- Use bibs during feeding. Disposable bibs are most suitable because they can be used to wipe ones mouth after a meal. A bib will protect the clothing and will save you some cleaning after the meal.
- An ill person, who is staying at home most of the time should feel that he or she has your full attention, however that doesn’t mean you should relieve him or her form every activity, but only facilitate carrying them out. Encourage your loved one to do as much as possible – motivation is an important part of activating a person.
- Ensure mental comfort of the person you look after – if he or she experiences urinary incontinence supply absorbent products, which neutralise the unpleasant smell of urine and provide dryness and the feeling of safety.
- Long term care requires establishing a certain routine – it creates a sense of security and stability when you administer medicine, carry out the rehabilitation, feed or look after your loved one’s hygiene the same time every day. Such routine helps you find a moment to rest and also makes it easier to organise your time, especially if you have always had difficulties with it.
- Planning the whole day way in advance helps to avoid nervousness and haste – this improves the atmosphere around the person you look after – efficient, organised washing, feeding or diaper changing saves time you can use to rest.
- The condition, age and mental state of the person you look after influences the way you communicate with him or her. Nevertheless, always remember to work out your own model of communication.
- The imagination of an ill person is easily stimulated compared to healthy people – be careful what you say – it is easy to raise futile hopes, or harm the person with your words.
- A person with a condition has rights. One of them is the right of information regarding his or her condition. Do not deprive that person of that knowledge, unless you are asked to do so by the very person. If you aren’t able to explain the condition to that person ask a nurse of a doctor for help. Always remember to speak clearly and in plain words.
- It is worth explaining what threats the treatment might involve and what effects it might bring. If you succeed to motivate that person the rehabilitation might be much more efficient.
- Try to transfer positive feelings onto your loved one, even when you don’t receive the same from him or her in return. Remember that being in such a condition can make a person afraid and uncomfortable, and that is very stressful.
- Listen to what your loved one is trying to say – pay attention to the body language – a conversation with the person you look after may enhance his or her mood and you might find information that will help you provide even better care.
- Remember about non-verbal communication – often a touch is more meaningful than words. It is worth to take one’s hand, stroke one’s hair or cheek. Such gestures restore strength in your loved one, and soothe his or her suffering.
Looking after an ill person requires a lot of strength and energy – both mental and physical. If you want to be ready to face that challenge, remember that if you want to look after someone, you also need to look after yourself. Find out more in this subject in the Look after yourself section.