Personal Care Services (General Principles).

General Principles

        What is Personal Care?

        Personal care is caring for someone’s person or body. It includes shaving, shampooing, mouth care, bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, and assistance with moving.

Why do we perform personal care for clients?
  • Many injured, frail, elderly, and disabled clients are unable to care for themselves because of physical limitations.
  • Others cannot care for themselves because of diseases like Alzheimer’s, which hampers their thought process.
  • Assistance with personal care allows clients to remain at home when they would otherwise be in a nursing home. It also promotes and preserves the clients’ sense of well-being and dignity.
  • Assistance with bathing and grooming gives clients an opportunity to gently exercise muscles and stimulate circulation.
  • Some clients need assistance with personal care only on days when they are feeling weak and unsteady or are in need of a stand-by for “bad days”.
Who does personal care?
  • Personal care workers/providers (PCW/P’s) are people trained to provide personal care to clients who have difficulty caring for themselves.
  • Agency training provides PCW/P’s with information and practice, which makes them capable and comfortable with providing personal care to clients.
  • Supervisors of PCW/P’s are available to answer questions and provide training.
  • PCW/P’s should always feel free to call with questions.
When does personal care happen?

        Each client has individual needs and preferences. The supervisor establishes a Plan of Care for each client at the start of the service. The Plan of Care specifies the type and frequency of services to be provided. Some clients will need personal care only a few times a week; others will need services several times each day. The care plan dictates the types of services and frequency of visits that are to be provided to the client.

Where does personal care happen?

        Some clients can manage most of their bathroom and bedroom personal care with minor assistance while weaker and/or sicker clients need personal care provided at their bedsides. PCW/P’s are taught to assist clients with needing minimal assistance. They also learn how to assist clients who cannot help themselves at all.

How does one help another with personal care?

        Most adult clients prefer to be as independent as possible. If the Plan of Care is not clear about how much care a client needs, the PCW/P should question the client, and then encourage the client to do as much as he/she can. Whenever possible, the client should direct care. If the client is confused or unable to give directions, the PCW/P should take the initiative and guide the client through the personal care routine; while always being concerned for the client’s SAFETY, PRIVACY, and COMFORT.

Examples of Safety, Privacy, and Comfort:

        Help the client with a sit-down tub bath if directed by the care plan – and only if the client needs the help.   Preserve the client’s independence                                                ·

Sometimes a long warm soak will cause the person to relax anti become too weak to get out of the tub safely.
  •       Verify that the shower or tub floor has a non-skid surface. Use a rubber mat if possible.
  •       Place a bath mat or towel on the floor for the client to step on when coming out of the shower or tub.
  •       Have the client use safety bars for assistance, if available.
  •       Never allow the client to hold onto towel bars to support their weight.
  •       Have the client use a tub bench, transfer bench, or shower chair, if they have one.
  •       Avoid exposing the client; provide drapes, use towels, a sheet, or a light blanket.

        Close the shower curtain and/or bathroom door to allow the person to complete as much of the shower as possible. The client may only need help with washing his/her back or other hard-to-reach places.


        Test the water temperature.  It should be about 105 to 110 degrees, comfortable to the inside of the wrist. Change the water when it becomes cloudy, cool, or as necessary.

        Make sure the room is warm and draft-free.

        Proceed with confidence. Clients are more comfortable if they feel the aide is experienced.

Be SYSTEMATIC in your approach.

        Throughout the personal care routine, think through what will be needed. Anticipate what the client will need.

Organize Equipment and Supplies in Advance

        Organize supplies such as towels and soap. Place them where they will be easily accessible.

Work from CLEANER to DIRTIER areas.

        Do mouth care before bathing. Wash the face and neck before armpits, feet, and bottom.


        Wear gloves whenever coming in contact with body fluids, such as in the mouth and genitals.

        Wash hands before and after doing personal care.