Making the Connection
When the need for personal support worker (PSW) assistance for your person in the home is required, it’s often not easy for the care partner, the person living with dementia or the PSW. There are a few things you can prepare for and provide, so that the PSW – a virtual stranger in your home – can be successful in providing care for your person. Provide a point-form fact sheet of important information about your person that will help with their care.
Here are some examples:
- “Maria has difficulties using her left-side, so approach from and place items on her right side.”
- “John has a fear of water, so start with a sponge bath and gradually introduce a handheld shower to wash his hair.”
- “Kim is very sensitive to temperature changes. Keep her covered as much as possible before, during and after her shower.”
Although the PSW will have competent skills and a good knowledge of basic care for your person, they have only a small amount of time to connect with them before performing some very intimate care, such as toileting, bathing and dressing. Consider the following ideas:
- Provide a small photo album with family photos, pets, or favourite places with family names as a conversation starter to help the PSW to make a connection.
- Encourage the PSW to spend five minutes communicating and getting to know your person before providing care.
- If a PSW is providing assistance with a bath or shower in the home, put together a “care basket” so they have on hand all the items that your person enjoys or finds familiar. This collection can be kept under the bathroom sink or in the linen cupboard to be brought out just before the PSW arrives. Some items you can put in the basket include:
- A favourite shampoo, body wash, and/or lotion
- A bath robe or a clean set of clothing so your person can be dressed immediately afterward. These items will allow them to remain warm and quickly covered to maintain their dignity.
- Any incontinence product the individual may require.
Taking these small steps will help everyone feel comfortable during a bathing routine.