Hygiene and Self Care for Your Patients

A Case Story

September 17, 2013 by Lauri Cohen OTR/L

As an occupational therapist, one of my main goals has been to foster independence in my patients. For one, Randy, this independence centered on the area of hygiene and self-care. When I first met Randy he presented with developmental delays and underlying musculoskeletal impairments that affected his ability to move independently and perform age-appropriate transfers and functional activities. In standing, Randy required support because he would inconsistently take weight through his legs for no more than 30 seconds. We decided to focus first on toileting and hygiene, and I decided my best option for Randy was to use the Rifton Support Station, a vertical changing table that allows users to assist in sit-to-stand transfers and then remain upright for their hygiene care or to be placed on a commode. A therapist helps a young boy onto a Rifton support station to help with his changing needsWe started last December. Randy learned how to use the Support Station quickly requiring minimal OT and PT sessions for visual and physical demonstrations, moderate verbal cueing, and encouragement. By mid-January, after just 40 days of use, Randy was gaining personal independence in self-care skills and demonstrating increases in his participation level and performance of activities of daily living. As of today, Randy can now transfer out of his wheelchair with the Support Station, pulling himself to a standing position (with contact guard and supervision for safety). This benefits both Randy and his caregivers. Because Randy is upright, his personal care is both more hygienic and more dignified. It also allows for better assessment of skin integrity over a previous problematic bony prominence. And finally, we can work on weight bearing skills during the toileting process. Randy’s levels of involvement in his self-care skills have greatly increased and therapy sessions continue to work on toileting skills. Hygiene care has become quicker, easier and less demanding for all of Randy’s caregivers. We are all so pleased with his progress.

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