The home care industry has a variety of euphemisms or technical terms for different caregiving tasks. They are designed to maintain a sense of dignity in care. We talk about providing personal care, transferring clients, or changing briefs. And that’s important because care receivers are often embarrassed that they need help with intimate tasks.
To put it directly, we are physically bathing our clients, changing adult diapers, wiping bottoms, brushing teeth, and helping clients get dressed. It isn’t always easy to maintain dignity while performing all of these very personal tasks for someone.
So, how do you do it? Respect begins with the caregiver. In my dad’s case, his caregivers were always very respectful of his wishes as an individual, yet they were constantly nudging him do the things he needed to do for his own health. It’s a fine line—an intimate and personal balancing.
5 Tips for helping a person retain dignity in care:
- Treat the individual as a valued person, and accept them for who they are right now
- Sometimes a care receiver is going to be difficult. He or she may scream, bite, or kick. Understand that they may not be in control of their actions
- Give suitable and appropriate choices that are within the scope of what the individual can manage.
- Give the opportunity to perform tasks for themselves, even if they need a little bit of coaxing
- Never, ever use degrading language or tone of voice with a person receiving care—watch your body language too
It can be a hard road, and caregivers can sometimes feel stretched beyond their patience. It’s important to remember the value of every single life. Remember the golden rule: treat others the way you wish to be treated. Care receivers almost always would rather be able to perform these tasks for themselves. Clothe yourself in compassion and humility—keep dignity in care—and you’ll both give and receive a priceless gift.