Intimate Personal Care & Support

Type: Wellbeing

Guideline: The organization trains, assigns and supports staff so that intimate personal care is provided with sensitivity, privacy and dignity.

What does this look like?

The organization has policy and training that ensures that intimate, personal care is delivered as expected.

As part of support planning, the organization will discuss and discover the preferences of people being served related to intimate, personal care. This discussion or discovery may be informed by the person, their family/support network and/or observation of the person’s comfort/discomfort, etc. The person’s preferences will be documented in their Support Plan.

Where possible, the organization will schedule, assign and shape routines of staff so that intimate personal care is provided as preferred by the person. This may include preferences such as staff gender, strength of relationships, cultural or religious considerations, etc.

New staff will not, under normal circumstances, provide intimate personal care to people until a familiarity and trust has been established. As part of new staff’s orientation, they will hear about how each person prefers to receive personal care. Wherever possible, this should come directly from the person.

Staff receive training on how to provide sensitive, dignified intimate care. This will include:

  • Information on the context and risks related to providing intimate, personal care;
  • How to provide support in a way that reinforces the person’s positive body image and control over their own body;
  • Ensures that staff give as much choice as possible about who assists and how it is done;
  • Appropriate infection control practices such as use of gloves, cleaning up bodily fluids safely, etc.;
  • Proper perineal care for both males and females
  • Teach privacy by modeling privacy
    • Make sure people dress, bathe and use the toilet in private:Knock before entering a room.
    • Close doors and blinds.
    • Use towels or blankets to drape over the person when assisting with personal routines where the person’s body may be exposed. This provides both warmth and privacy.
    • Add barriers between the person and staff. This can be accomplished by taking off and putting on one piece of clothing at a time, using a sponge or washcloth or using hand over hand assistance as opposed to direct contact.
  • Ask permission to do or assist:
    • Always ask to see and always ask to touch. Do not proceed if the person declines assistance. Where refusal is a common experience, a discussion should occur with the person, their support network and staff to articulate how care will be provided or not and alternative strategies to try.
  • Wait for consent:
    • Even if the person being supporting is non-verbal, allow them time to indicate with body language if this touch is okay.
    • If the person is showing discomfort or anxiety, stop and try to better understand how to make them more comfortable.
  • Explain each step of any procedure (what you are doing and why):
    • Pair words with actions to teach respectful touch.
    • Remember to bring needed clothing for the person when moving from location to location (e.g. bedroom to bathroom).
    • Staff should position themselves to give as much privacy as possible, i.e. pull shower curtain partially, etc.
  • Keep private subjects private:
    • Do not discuss a person’s bodily functions, sexual habits or personal hygiene publicly;
    • Defer questions about private subjects to a private time and place;
    • Teach where and when certain subjects can be discussed.
    • Staff should model this in their interactions.
  • When two staff are required to provide intimate personal care, the attention is focused on the person receiving support and conversations that do not include the person do not occur.

How would you know this is happening? (Evidence)

What you see in systems:

  • People’s support plans include information about their preferences on receiving intimate personal care.
  • Organizational policies are available.
  • Training content and records of completions are available.

What you see in actions:

  • People and their families report positive experiences in the area of intimate personal care.
  • Staff talk respectfully and knowledgeably about providing respectful and dignified support and are aware of the preferences of the people they support.

Resources to support achieving guideline:

  • Ethics of Touch
  • Sample Intimate Personal Care Support Policy – [To be added soon]

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