Helping someone else get dressed can be very tricky. Difficult patients or residents in various states can create a series of obstacles in helping them get their day started or finished.
We asked a group of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) and caregivers to provide their tips in helping others get dressed. The mass professional audience participated by ‘voting up’ the tips they like the best, or agreed with most.
Here are some of the very helpful tips:
TIP #1: Start by dressing the person’s affected/weaker side first. When undressing, remove the unaffected side first. There are a few known acronyms to help you remember – DAF (dress affected side first) and RUF (remove unaffected side first).
TIP #2: Some PSWs have found it helpful to ask residents if they want help picking out their outfits or if they want you to do it. This provides them a sense of independence and choice. If they do want help, create a few options of outfits for them to choose from. They tend to enjoy having the options and picking a preferred option.
TIP #3: If a resident is compromised, remember to dress the resident while they are in bed, but sit the head of the bed up. This gives the resident’s back muscles a chance to adjust to the upright position, and gets their blood flowing. Put on their socks, pants, shoes, and so on. Aside from being easier on the resident, it will be less harmful on you and your back. Be cautious (if you can) to place the bed at the perfect height for rolling a resident.
TIP #4: Not everyone is going to be happy to have help getting dressed. If you have a difficult resident, positive reinforcement, smiling, and a good attitude go a very long way.
TIP #5: Tell the resident what is happening every step of the getting dressed process, especially if the residents are confused. It keeps them in the loop, builds trust, and makes them more comfortable.
TIP #6: The most simple tip around, but possibly the most important – be patient!
We would like to thank everyone who participated in contributing to this article. Some of the popular tips provided (although there was many more) came from the following PSWs and caregivers: Kari Ferri (Innisfil, Ontario), Mary Lewis (Paris, Ontario), Shannon Trache (Brockville, Ontario), Megan Hennebry (Kitchener, Ontario), Bailey Palmer (Drayton, Ontario), Melanie Guidon (Moonbeam, Ontario), Janet Thompson (Hamilton, Ontario), Amber Roske (Smith Falls, Ontario), Shelby Ferris (Barrie, Ontario), Margaret Jones (Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, UK), Sophie Graham (Alfreton, England), and Alison Toyne (North Lincolnshire, England). Thanks to all who contributed and participated!