While bathing can be relaxing and enjoyable for care home residents, it's also an activity that can carry potential risks. Believe it or not, the bathroom is often considered to be the most dangerous room in a house - regardless of the age of the person using it. However, for elderly residents in a care home setting, the bathroom can be even more hazardous.
Excessive moisture in the bathroom makes the threat of falling or slipping far more significant, while climbing in and out of showers and tubs can present a serious problem for those with poor balance or mobility.
Fortunately, there are a range of ways in which care home operators can upgrade and improve their property to make the bathroom a safer place for residents. From installing strong and reliable grab bars, to ensuring that you have the right equipment available for residents who require bathing assistance, we'll address some of the ways you can make bathing easier for your care home residents, and staff.
Many elderly individuals rely on the support afforded by grab bars and handrails when they're climbing in and out of the tub or shower. Although towel bars can hold towels easily enough, it's important to remember that they aren't built to support the weight of a person. Instead, grab bars should be installed in easy-to-access locations to support good balance when exiting and entering the tub.
Remember, the railings and bars that you choose shouldn't be simply selected for their aesthetic value - they also need to be affixed securely to the wall of your bathroom, and should be easy to spot for residents who struggle with their sight.
While grab bars and railings can be useful for residents who have enough upper body strength to get in and out of the bath themselves, additional support may be required for those with limited mobility. For example, shower chairs with wheels can be used to allow low-mobility residents to be wheeled directly into a shower stall.
Using bath hoists, care home staff can help to ensure that even people with low mobility can enjoy a safe and relaxing bathing experience. However it is of upmost importance that care home staff using the hoists have the appropriate training to keep themselves and residents secure.
For residents who are sensitive to heat, or people living with dementia who might struggle to determine the correct heat for their bathing needs, a bath thermometer is essential. Care home workers can use a thermometer in the bath to ensure that the temperature of the water is safe for the resident - and also make sure that the level does not drop too low during bathing.
Similarly, shower head thermometers can be used to help care home residents and staff maintain a safe water temperature during bathing - by displaying the heat of the water in clear and simple terms.
If the residents in your care home suffer from problems with their balance, a shower chair or bath seat can provide a comfortable alternative to constantly holding a grab bar or railing. Some chairs are fully-sized and come with rubber tips on the legs to ensure that there is no sliding during bathing. Other chairs may simply be small stools that reduce the distance a resident has to move in order to get in and out of a tub.
Regardless of the kind of chair or stool you choose, it's important to make sure that the product is sturdy, reliable, and large enough to fit your resident comfortably. Also, keep in mind that these chairs should be cleaned and disinfected regularly as part of your infection control procedures.
Slips and falls in care home environments occur frequently when residents are struggling to get in or out of the shower or bath. Using a non-slip mat on the floor of the tub, alongside a non-slip rug placed outside of the bath or shower, can help to promote better safety for residents.
Remember, simply placing a towel outside of the tub or shower is not enough, as towels can easily slide out from underneath the feet, and lead to injury.
Bathing can be a complicated task for elderly residents who struggle to move with as much stability and flexibility as they once could. However, that doesn't mean that the people within your care home shouldn't be afforded the opportunity to relax safely during their bathing experience.
Besides following the above suggestions, you can improve the safety and wellbeing of your residents during bathing by:
With the right tools and resources, care home staff can provide a secure and rejuvenating environment for their care home residents within bathrooms and shower rooms.
We hope that you found our guidance and tips on making bathing safer for care home residents useful, but we would like to hear yours too. Leave us a comment below or send us a tweet @CareShopBunzl to share your thoughts.