Face to face - hands on care

As a carer you have the key to a healthy and happy life for those you care for. With a little thought, their lives can be enriched and their future influenced by the way you relate to them.

You are the hands and eyes of managers in social care and the health professions, noting the changing needs of your clients or family members and passing these on. I will continue to use the term 'client' used by carers working in paid employment, but the advice obviously applies to family members as well. 

PHYSICAL NEEDS

As you assist in washing and dressing your clients, take note of any increase of pain, stiffness and weakness. Document this and pass on the information to your manager. Your clients need to do as much as possible for themselves to enable them to care for themselves as long as possible. This maintains self-worth and staves off depression.

MENTAL NEEDS

Help your clients to remain in touch with the wider community, telling them what is going on and encouraging them to express their opinion. Show an interest in any hobby they may be pursuing or photos of family and friends. This can often draw them out, even if they have dementia. Perhaps play some favourite music as you work together. This stimulates the brain and arouses pleasant memories.

EMOTIONAL NEEDS

Recognising your client by a cheery greeting and asking how they are, will set the scene for a rewarding time together. Together with respect, you will be giving people a feeling that they matter. Remember you are the only people they may see all day. Families are often scattered and their friends unable to visit.

Become familiar with the movements and exercises recommended on Movingtherapy and remind your clients to do them,  perhaps while you are busy with your care notes.

One essential exercise: Sit to stand 5 times 3 times a day. Emphasise that this will help them to toilet themselves.

In order to do it safely, suggest that they do it at the table before a meal. If sitting in an arm chair, they should make sure their walking frame is in front of them. For some it may be advisable to do the exercise in your presence.

I have many stories of changed lives through doing this routine regularly every day. Some could visit family again as now able to climb stairs to the toilet, others could get in and out of the bath. One elderly man  was able to put aside his stick, another attained the age of a hundred years, walking only with a stick, in spite of  a terminal illness. Over several years I would check up on him and he always assured me he was doing his exercises.

'This life wants nothing so much as sunny people. The old are hungrier for love than for bread, and the Oil of Joy is very cheap. If you can help the poor on with a Garment of Praise it will be warmer for them than blankets.' Henry Drummond