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Client Care Tips For Your CNAs – Dressing & Grooming
Part of a nursing assistant’s job is to assist clients with grooming and dressing. Do the CNAs in your workplace know how important this daily task is to their clients? Do they use dressing and grooming activities as opportunities to observe their clients? By sharing the following information and tips at your next CNA inservice meeting, you can give your assistants a different perspective on personal care.
Looking good…and feeling good!
At first glance, getting ready for the day is so obvious and easy that we often don’t give it a second thought. We simply dress, brush our teeth, comb our hair and do all the other things necessary to make ourselves presentable. Now, just imagine if:
- Your arm was stiff and you couldn’t put on your shirt.
- You can’t reach back to close a zipper or hook your bra.
- Your feet hurt and you can’t reach down to put on socks or shoes.
- Your toes were bent due to joint pain and you couldn’t tie your shoelaces.
- You couldn’t remember how or in what order to put your clothes on.
- Your hands shake so badly that you can’t brush your teeth, comb your hair, or shave yourself.
For people who have physical or mental impairment, dressing and grooming tasks can be difficult to do alone. Sometimes they may take out their frustrations on the people around them.
That’s where you come in. With your help and encouragement, your clients won’t be disappointed by their appearance or embarrassed that they can’t dress privately on their own.
Dozens of benefits of good grooming
- Letting your clients choose their own clothes gives them a sense of independence and in charge.
- Encouraging clients to do their best while dressing supports team spirit and gives them a sense of belonging.
- Allowing your client to do as much as they can on their own helps them develop self-reliance.
- Expressing your approval during dressing and grooming makes customers feel valued.
- Looking good boosts every client’s self-esteem and can even help lift a bad mood!
- Dressing your client protects the skin from injury and maintains proper body temperature.
- Ensuring that your client’s clothing fits properly keeps all of their body systems under control.
- Brushing your client’s hair promotes a healthy scalp and strong hair.
- Daily oral care prevents painful oral conditions and protects the mouth from oral diseases.
- Keeping your client’s nails trimmed without any ragged edges can prevent scratches and cuts that can lead to infection.
- Reporting toenail changes helps your client seek care from a podiatrist as needed. This can prevent complications for people with diabetes, heart conditions or poor circulation.
- Moving your client’s joints and muscles during the grooming process helps maintain body mobility and prevents contractures.
Clues That Matter
Dressing and grooming tasks give you a daily opportunity to look for clues that may be causing problems. For example:
- Be aware of the customer’s facial expressions. Clients may tell you they are not in pain, but their faces may reveal the real story.
- Customers get dressed and get out several times a day. When helping them, pay attention to the whole body, noting redness, rashes, bedsores or other changes in the skin.
- Report any unusual body odor. A strange odor can be a sign of an illness.
- Some health conditions cause swelling in the body. Watch for signs of swollen hands (such as a tight ring) and swollen feet (such as shoes and socks suddenly becoming too small).
- Check for head lice when you brush or comb your client’s hair. (Lice can happen to anyone – young or old, dirty or clean, rich or poor.) Look for the egg whites known as “nits.” They look like small pieces of dandruff, but do not wash or fall out. Instead, they stick tightly to the strands of hair.
- If you take care of your nails, look for white or yellow patches on your fingernails and toenails. Your client may have nail fungus.
Dressing and Grooming Challenges
For confused clients, grooming and dressing involves many steps and the use of many different skills. This can be a very confusing time. Clients with dementia may be more cooperative if you give them something to do. Let them help by putting toothpaste on the toothbrush, holding socks while putting on shoes, or folding some washcloths while brushing hair.
Consider using the “mirroring technique” when helping confused customers. For example, hold a toothbrush and pretend to brush teeth to help the client understand how to do this task themselves.
When the client has tremors, sit and talk with them for a few minutes before beginning care because certain types of tremors improve when the client feels relaxed. Encourage them to support one hand with the other when performing tasks such as shaving or brushing teeth.
To help visually impaired clients feel in charge, tell them about styles and/or colors of clothing items and guide them to where their hand grooming supplies are kept. When you arrive, speak to them to make them aware of their surroundings and to let them know if they are alone or with others.
Remember that many people with arthritis suffer from “morning stiffness”. Their joints may be particularly swollen and painful during morning grooming and dressing tasks. Encourage your arthritic client to dress their feet and legs first because this requires the most energy. Let them sit for as much of the dressing and grooming process as possible – to save energy and prevent them from bending over so far.
If a client asks you for a pain reliever before going through the motions of dressing, let the nurse or family member know that the client is in pain and needs attention.
Remember that some of your clients may be silent about their pain because of fear, their beliefs, or their cultural heritage. Be sure to look for non-verbal signs of pain such as:
- Brushing or brushing the teeth.
- Rubbing or holding a body part.
- is crying
- Losing interest in their appearance.
- Changes in blood pressure (usually high).
As you assist your client with personal care, remember that you have a duty to notify your supervisor when you know—or suspect—that the client is in pain. Every client has the right to pain relief!
Keep in mind that some of your clients may find it safer and easier to get dressed while sleeping—especially when it comes to pulling up pants. If a client is weak on one side, encourage him or her to dress weak First side.
Report broken cords on grooming appliances like hair dryers or electric shavers to keep you and your clients safe.
Consider using a “buddy system” when caring for clients who have a history of fighting. It’s not that you can “gang up” on a client, it’s that you can stay safe while doing client care.
Remember that some people feel light-headed when their body temperature drops. Help your client maintain an even body temperature by dressing appropriately for the weather and avoiding drafts.
Be sure to adjust your client’s clothing so that it doesn’t get pulled into the wheels when they’re in a wheelchair.
Remember that everyone has the right to be involved in their own care. Therefore, encourage your customers to be involved in their personal care. Although they are not strong enough to dress themselves, they may be able to wash their faces or comb their hair.
It takes patience and understanding to stand back and let your clients “do it for themselves.” However, allowing your client to maintain as much freedom as possible when it comes to dressing and grooming can positively impact their health—and increase their overall quality of life.
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