Hygiene and Hospitalisation

For many the prospect of going into hospital can be a very frightening experience. It is not made any easier by having to make changes with regard to hygiene needs. For example shared facilities, being in bed, having an operation may all add to the anxiety.

Planning For Your Hospital Stay

For those who shave or wax regularly, it is advised that this is done shortly before going into hospital as any operation may mean that you are unable to perform these tasks for a while afterwards.

Before entering the hospital environment ensure that you have got adequate provisions for your hygiene needs. Hairbrush, toothbrush, toothpaste, washcloth and towels can all be taken in as personal belongings.

Instead of taking full bottles of shampoos etc, try transferring a little of the product into a smaller container so less space is taken up and the empty container can be disposed of before leaving the hospital.

Before an Operation

As many operations require the operating site to be shaved, ask the nurse if this has to be done and try and do it yourself, allowing staff to check before going to the operating theatre. In most cases, underwear will have to be removed prior to the operation so ensure that fresh underwear is available to put on after the procedure when able. Make-up, jewellery and nail varnish is usually requested to be removed, so it may be more pleasant to remember this and take your own provisions if necessary particularly if you have a regular brand.

Caring For Someone’s Hygiene Needs

Always remember that they will have different preferences than you about how they like things to be done and what products they use. When possible endeavour to find out what their usual products are as this will help relax them and will be a method of keeping everything ‘normal’.

If the person is awake and alert and needs assistance remember to respect their privacy at all times. Allow them the dignity to wash and look after their needs alone if they can and encourage them to take care of themselves, thus encouraging independence and a speedier recovery.

If the person is not conscious, the nursing and auxiliary staff may look after their needs initially, but may request or offer for their main carer to help if needed or preferred. There may well be a lot of equipment and machinery attached to the patient, so always ensure these are not touched. Ask for assistance if necessary.

A simple refreshing wipe with a damp warm cloth followed by patting with a soft towel is often all that is required. In most cases the dental hygiene is maintained by the nursing staff and dentures are likely to have been removed. Ensure that they are in a safe place and ready for use when the patient regains consciousness.

It may help both the family and patient to maintain hair and nail care and this can be an important time in communicating with the patient, even though they may be unconscious.

Going into hospital either as a patient or a visitor can be a daunting prospect for many. By taking your own products in familiarity can be maintained and hygiene needs can be maintained almost the same as if at home.

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