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Washing and hygiene aids

Washing And Hygiene Aids Panel

Maintaining good personal hygiene is essential for overall health and well-being. However, age-related changes like reduced mobility, limited dexterity, and vision problems can make showering and washing a challenge. This can lead to a reliance on others, an increased risk of falls, and even potential skin problems.

Common scenarios and concerns

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Reduced mobility or weakness: Difficulty reaching certain body areas, maintaining balance in the shower, or standing for long periods.

This can lead to an increased risk of falls, difficulty maintaining personal hygiene, and the potential for skin problems.

Shower chairs: Provide a stable and secure alternative to standing in the shower. 

Long-handled bath tools: Extend your reach for washing hard-to-reach areas. 

Bath benches: Offer a comfortable resting spot while showering.

Limited dexterity: Difficulty gripping soap, manipulating shampoo bottles, or fastening towels.

This can lead to frustration, dependence on others, and the potential for dropped items to cause slips.

Adapted bath brushes and sponges: Feature long handles and easy-grip designs for easier use. 

Soap on a rope: Eliminates the need to grip and keeps soap readily available. 

Lever-operated dispensers: Easy-to-use dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash.

Vision problems: Difficulty seeing soap dispensers, shampoo labels, or navigating the shower safely.

This can lead to frustration, the potential for using incorrect products, and increased fall risk.

Raised-label toiletries: Opt for toiletries with large, raised labels for easier identification by touch. 

Shower grab bars in contrasting colours: Provide visual and physical support. 

Bath mats with textured surfaces: Enhance slip resistance.


Common obstacles to maintaining personal hygiene

Here are some common issues that can make washing and showering difficult:

  • Reduced mobility or weakness: Difficulty maintaining balance in the shower, standing for extended periods, or reaching different body areas can make showering unsafe and challenging.
  • Limited dexterity: Gripping small objects like soap, manipulating shampoo bottles, or fastening towels can be frustrating and difficult with weakened hands or wrists.
  • Vision problems: Difficulty seeing soap dispensers, reading shampoo labels, or navigating the slippery shower floor can increase the risk of falls and frustration.

The following washing and bathing aids can significantly enhance your comfort, safety, and independence during your daily hygiene routine:

Enhancing stability and support

  • Shower chairs: These sturdy chairs offer a safe and secure alternative to standing in the shower, especially if showering for extended periods is difficult.
  • Bath benches: Provide a comfortable resting spot while showering or shaving your legs.
  • Grab bars: Installing grab bars strategically in the shower and near the bathtub provides support for entering, exiting, and manoeuvring safely.

Extending your reach

  • Long-handled bath tools: These tools come in various forms, including long-handled sponges, brushes, and loofahs, allowing you to reach all areas of your body without bending or straining.
  • Long-handled bath mitt: A convenient option that allows you to wash your entire body with minimal arm movement.

Simplifying tasks with adapted tools

  • Adapted bath brushes and sponges: These feature long handles and easy-grip designs that are easier to hold and use.
  • Soap on a rope: This eliminates the need to grip a bar of soap and keeps it readily available during showering.
  • Lever-operated dispensers: Wall-mounted dispensers for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash are easier to use than traditional bottles with slippery surfaces.
  • Sock and dressing aids: These tools can help you put on and take off socks and stockings with minimal bending or reaching.

Enhancing visibility in the bathroom

  • Raised-label toiletries: Choose toiletries with large, raised labels that are easier to identify by touch, especially for those with limited vision.
  • Shower grab bars with contrasting colours: Opt for grab bars in contrasting colours that are easily visible against the shower wall, providing both visual and physical support.
  • Increased lighting: Ensure adequate lighting in the bathroom to improve visibility and reduce the risk of falls.

Choosing the right washing and bathing aids

Selecting the right washing and bathing aids depends on your specific needs and limitations. Here are some tips to help you choose:

  • Consult with an occupational therapist: An occupational therapist can assess your needs and recommend the most suitable aids to help you maintain your independence in the bathroom.
  • Consider your bathroom layout: Ensure there's enough space to install grab bars or manoeuvre a shower chair safely.
  • Focus on comfort and ease of use: Choose aids that are comfortable to hold, lightweight, and easy to operate.
  • Trial and error: Don't hesitate to experiment with different options to find the washing and bathing aids that work best for you.

Additional things to consider

  • Maintenance: Regularly clean and maintain your washing and bathing aids according to the manufacturer's instructions for optimal functionality and hygiene.
  • Safety checks: Ensure grab bars are securely mounted and shower chairs are stable before use.

Where to buy equipment to help you wash yourself hygienically. 

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

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  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.



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