Planning bathroom routines during rehabilitation
Our bathroom routines are highly personal
Share the support
Who will be involved in accessing the bathroom?
Deciding the people that will help you use the toilet and shower is an important step of this process. The OT may suggest engaging more than one person so the load is shared across multiple people – a parent, partner and a home carer.
Consider your current routine
What order will you conduct bathroom activities?
Do you have a preference as to how you approach your morning and evening routines? What about during the day? It seems trivial until the process is underway and these minor details start to really matter.
Consider what your bathroom routine has been prior to the injury or impairment. What would make your life easier and more in line with your preferences? It’s important to let the OT know this information as they can to a large extent accommodate these requests, depending on the nature of the injury.
Some things that we know our Showerbuddy community of users think about during their bathroom planning:
- Do I use the toilet every morning before taking a shower?
- Can I still see myself in the mirror when seated?
- What hair products do I use each day?
- Can I apply my own deodorant or aftershave?
- How often do I shave?
- Do I brush my teeth before getting into the shower or after?
- What typical bathroom activities do I have during the day time (i.e. outside of the main morning and evening bathroom routines).
- Do I get undressed outside of the bathroom or enter the bathroom first and then get undressed for bathing?
This process of establishing the order of activities is all about surfacing what makes you the most comfortable.
How will you get into and out of the shower unit?
Transferring into and out of the shower is one of the more difficult manual movements any of us make, unless we’re in a bathroom with an open plan ‘wet room’ style shower. For anyone with an injury they’re rehabilitating, the ‘transfer’ demands help through a combination of equipment and human support to execute safely.
The occupational therapist will do an assessment on your bathroom and shower against the status of your impairment to create a plan, but you may wish to contribute to this by thinking about your preferences here. At different stages of the physical rehab, you may be able to take on more of a role in the actual transfer, whether that’s mounting onto a transfer system, or moving a shower chair up to the shower for transfer.
Then consider what happens once bathing is over – do you dry yourself off in the shower before getting out? What help if any is required after this?
Don’t feel like you need answers to all these questions. An OT will ensure you have a safe bathing experience. But if you’ve got preferences with the transfer, it’s good to voice these.
What are the back up plans in the event of a cleanup?
Accidents happen, more often than you might think. First, the speed at which one can get to the bathroom is not quick in most cases. And the actual process of getting over the toilet and completing the task doesn’t always happen with laser precision.
What equipment will be available for both toilet and bath use?
Asking about the equipment options you have (as well as doing your own research) is a great way to get involved in your own rehabilitation and care plan.
As you might read in our other resources on this website, there’s a number of assistive technologies available to you – and in many cases more than one good option so personal preference does play a part in some cases.
Your OT may work with the physical therapist to choose equipment that supports the process of rehabilitation. Some equipment will also be able to be adjusted or even customised around different stages of mobility.
Which periods of usage can you be left alone?
With privacy such a sensitive issue for most of us, those moments where one can be left alone to conduct some of their bathroom business is a big deal. As part of building the latest bathroom routine with the OT, establish which of these tasks is feasible to happen without someone in the room (even if they are nearby to provide help at a moment’s notice).
What is the roadmap for rehabilitation and how does this affect the routine?
The bathroom activity can in many ways mirror these milestones by gradually introducing more personal input by the individual, such as bathing oneself with the removable shower head, or managing the toilet process solo. Setting goals is an important part of a physical therapy programme, and so too in bathroom usage.
Things may start out as ‘high touch’ in terms of the equipment and personal help to get through the bathroom routine, but at each milestone may drop off a particular aspect of support in order to empower the individual to do this themselves. It won’t be a sudden process whereby these tasks can’t be done and then can – like all motor skills and rehab exercises it’s a matter of practice and building up capability over a longer period. This obviously needs to be tempered with ensuring that bathing and using the toilet is still as pleasant an experience as possible.
Work with an expert
Work with an occupational and/or physical therapist
The best source of information and planning is going to be with the OT and Home Care PT. They are able to apply their training and experience to understand your mobility levels at a given point in time, and put together a plan that offers you the best possible bathroom experience at the time.
If ever in doubt, your OT or PT are the best ones to talk to and get help to adjust the plan. That’s what they’re there for!
More information about this topic:
You can find useful information about this topic across the web via the following excellent online resources:
- What is occupational therapy? – Showerbuddy blog
- Interventions to Reduce Risk for Patients with Toileting Needs – University of Nebraska Medical Centre
- How can physical therapy help? – MedicalNewsToday.com
Using The Toilet With An Injury
It’s understandable that the idea of someone else being in the same room with us, let alone near us during toilet use is unpleasant. There are few activities in a person’s daily life that demain such privacy.
How To Bathe Comfortably During Rehab
Bathing isn’t just a function of daily life to keep us clean and smelling nice; it’s the moment in the day we regaing our thoughts and relax. Why should this be any different for someone in the midst of a physical rehabilitation journey?
Equipment To Help Bathroom Use When Injured
Assistive technology plays a crucial role in rehabilitation and conducting taks for millions of people across the world each day. While for many people this equipment doesn’t solely cater to their support needs, they’re still an important complimentary factor.