At Visiting Angels®, our personal care program is vital to the safety and well-being of seniors. Unlike companion care, which covers less intensive caregiving needs, personal care provides seniors with assistance for daily living activities such as dressing, grooming, and bathing.
Given the sensitive nature of these activities, caregivers need special skill sets in order to perform these tasks. One particularly important quality—that is often overlooked—is gentleness. And not just physical gentleness, but emotional gentleness, too.
Personal Care and Physical Gentleness
When you consider the activities personal care entails, physical gentleness seems like a given. After all, you don’t want to be rough when helping seniors in or out of the shower or when brushing their teeth.
Gentleness may suddenly seem like a tall order. When you help a person into and out of the shower, it takes a great deal of physical effort, and your main priority is injury prevention, not comfort. Meanwhile, simple activities like tooth brushing can be tricky to get right. Even with the best intentions, caregivers may struggle to apply the right amount of pressure or use the right brushing technique. A mistake in one direction can lead to oral health problems. A mistake in the other direction can inflict pain during brushing, especially to sensitive gums.
Without training or experience, caregivers can fail to strike the right balance when performing personal care tasks. And seniors who receive care may be unwilling or unable to speak up, causing them to quietly endure pain and discomfort.
That’s why it’s so important personal care providers perform their jobs well and gently. For example, they know how to safely transfer seniors into the tub or shower without causing discomfort or comb an elderly adult’s hair while navigating painful knots. In short, they know how to attend to their clients’ physical well-being without compromising physical comfort.
Personal Care and Emotional Gentleness
In personal care, it’s not enough to simply be physically gentle. Caregivers must also exhibit emotional gentleness toward seniors who feel uncomfortable and sensitive when needing personal care.
This makes sense when you consider many of the private acts personal caregivers provide. Few of us would feel comfortable dressing or bathing in someone else’s presence. These emotions are only compounded by the loss of independence that many individuals feel in these moments.
Navigating these moments takes a great deal of emotional intelligence and compassion on the part of caregivers; it’s a critical part of the job. If a client receives care and feels embarrassed or powerless afterward, a caregiver has failed to positively impact quality of life.
Compassionate caregivers understand this and take an equally gentle approach to the emotional components of personal care. They talk clients through care when appropriate, they stay quiet when silence is needed, and they remain attentive to the emotional sensitivities of caregiving. They also take time to check in regularly with their care recipient asking questions and seeking feedback to ensure they are not overstepping any unforeseen boundaries.
At Visiting Angels, we are passionate about providing care that is gentle, both physically and emotionally. Our caregivers are chosen because they share this same passion. We take the time to get to know your loved one personally, to understand their needs, and to put them at ease. Dignified, compassionate, gentle care is always our top priority.
Contact your local Visiting Angels office today to request a free personal care consultation.