Bathing has a number of positive effects on the human mind and body. With the right knowledge, the right equipment and the right routines, these effects can be put to good use in the care of the elderly. The outcome is often not only momentary pleasure and relaxation, but also a reduced need for painkillers, sedatives and anxiety-control drugs.
Warm water (34°C) stimulates the cardiovascular system and increases the blood circulation. The water’s natural buoyancy makes the body feel light and facilitates movement of stiff limbs and joints. Warm water also stimulates the sensory properties of the skin. The result is pleasure and relaxation. To maximise the potentially positive effects of bathing a number of areas need to be considered.
Enhancing the natural positive effects of bathing
The natural effects of bathing can be enhanced in a number of ways. Hydromassage amplifies the therapeutic effects by stimulating muscles and peripheral blood circulation. Sound & Vision enhances the sensory experience and reinforces the natural calming effect of the bath. Aromatherapy is another classic way to heighten the bathing experience.
Good skin care management is vital in the care of the elderly. When bathing, the skin can be protected by using specially formulated bath liquids for conditioning and moisturising. The actual cleaning of the resident’s body can be performed by using the advanced cleaning technology Hydrosound. An integrated ultrasound unit generates millions of jet streams. The imploding bubbles remove dirt particles from the skin in a gentle and pleasant brushing action.
Snoezelen – a sensory-based therapy
Snoezelen is a controlled multisensory stimulation often used for people with mental disabilities. The resident or patient is exposed to a soothing and stimulating environment by using light, colour, touch, sounds, music, scents, etc. Snoezelen does not rely on verbal communication. The Snoezelen session can be much enhanced through bathing. In the bath the whole body is ‘touched’ by the warm water, and the pleasurable experience can easily be further heightened by introducing more sensory stimuli such as sound, lights, scents, etc.
Safety for the resident and carer
Even though the focus of bathing is on pleasure, it is important to remember the aspects that impact the health and safety of residents and nursing staff.
Transfer to and from the bath
If you are bathing residents that cannot get into and out of the bath themselves you should always use integrating lifting equipment; i.e. equipment that lets you transfer the patient from bed or chair into and out of the bath in one single cycle.
Correct working posture
The bath itself should always be height-adjustable to allow all carers to work in a good working posture and not be exposed to harmful static load.
Scalding accidents shall never be allowed to happen in conjunction with bathing. Make sure you always check the bath water temperature with your own hand before you allow a patient into the water, and always choose a bath with modern scalding protection.
Make sure you select a bath with efficient cleaning functions and that you have strict infection control routines in place to avoid cross contamination.