How Can Caregivers Help their Clients Maintain Dignity and Privacy?

Personal Care Assistance Calls for Sensitivity and Patience

Yes! There are ways to make receiving personal care more comfortable.

When looking for a caregiver for your aging parents, likely one of your biggest concerns is whether or not their dignity and privacy will be respected, even if personal care is required. You are anxious for your mom or dad to feel more in control, and this will help them to accept needed assistance.

Our CAREGiver training stresses the importance of treating every client with respect. For example, we remind them to address new clients as “Mr.” or “Mrs.” unless invited to do otherwise. Your mom or dad will be encouraged to take the lead in household routines wherever possible, and CAREGivers will ask permission before going into private areas of the house, opening cupboards or closets, etc. unless they are given permission to “make themselves at home.”

Caring for a senior with Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease or Lewy Body calls for an extra level of patience and kindness. Our CAREGivers remain calm and kind at all times, never showing impatience or irritation or resorting to demeaning “baby talk.”

Respecting Dignity and Privacy While Helping with Hygiene and Toileting

People who need help with toileting and hygiene value gentleness, thoughtfulness and respect. They also appreciate it when they are given the option to care for their own needs as much as possible. To that end, consider adding grab bars near the toilet and tub, raised toilet seats, bath benches and non-slip mats. Remember to keep towels and products close at hand. This may allow them to care for personal needs with little assistance.

When help is needed, CAREGivers respect their dignity by using towels to drape the body, keeping as much covered as possible (there is even a special garment just for modesty while showering). Changing one piece of clothing at a time and looking down when helping with undergarments also shows respect.

Professional CAREGivers are used to dealing with these situations and may not feel awkward at all, but chances are, you mom or dad will never really get used to it. Kind CAREGivers keep this in mind at all times.

One CAREGiver Shares Her Methods

We thought it would be best if one of our own CAREGivers answered. From Belleville, Illinois, CAREGiver, Deb K says:

“Maintaining the dignity of a client is always important when a caregiver is assisting with personal care. Generally, a client is resistant to change and having to have someone help them. Allowing them to make the decisions regarding what you can do to help and what they can do by themselves is very important.

Gradually, as a client and caregiver develop a mutual friendship and the client sees the value and importance of the caregiver, the client will be more comfortable accepting help. Most important is for the caregiver to allow the client to set the pace. The caregiver needs to ask questions regarding how they can best assist, and then step back and let the client tell them what they need and how the caregiver can best help out.

Bathing is probably the most sensitive issue for a client. Sadly, when someone can no longer safely bathe by themselves, they tend to stop bathing rather than ask for help.

Three issues must be overcome by anyone offering personal care assistance:

  • Apprehension at having a new person in their home
  • Fear of showing vulnerability
  • Desire for privacy

A loving CAREGiver will help prepare the bathroom / bedroom ahead of time, allowing the client to see that the caregiver cares about them. This also gives them time to work on any privacy issues ahead of bath time, easing their fears and reminding them how good it feels to be pampered. Wash their back gently, have the towel ready. These little things help them know you care for their well- being.

l make it fun to bathe by reminding them of the rewards afterwards, make it something to look forward to like feeling fresh, enjoying scented powders, smelling good, choosing clean clothing. This also helps them to remember what it was like in earlier times to bathe, smell wonderful, maybe having that special date to look forward to… Before you know it, bath time is over and the two of you are smiling, laughing, getting dressed and on to the reward.”

"We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with some of Fairfax County's most special people, our CAREGivers."

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