5.1.2 The Importance of Hygiene and Grooming

Hygiene refers to the regular practices conducive to maintaining health and preventing disease, especially through physical cleanliness. In other chapters, we have already encountered hand hygiene. The need for cleanliness to prevent infection and contamination applies to other areas of the body as well, although the need for cleaning is much less frequent than for the hands, which are the main point of contact for the body.

Grooming is closely related to hygiene but is not strictly the same thing. For example, while keeping the hair clean would count as hygiene, shaving and styling preferences are to do with grooming. Grooming is not as strongly associated with preventing disease, yet, both grooming and hygiene have to do with upholding a client’s dignity. Please review DIPPS protocol now if you are unfamiliar with this term.

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The relationship between mental health and hygiene/grooming is a complex one, as they both impact one another.

First, people who are coping with poor mental health due to issues like clinical depression or cognitive degeneration, including dementia, may struggle to maintain an appropriate standard of hygiene and grooming. In these cases, clients may resist your encouragement to complete their regular personal care activities. It is a good idea to learn more about your clients’ individual perspectives and challenges in order to support them effectively.

Second, when clients’ personal hygiene and grooming are poor, they struggle to socialize with others: very often, people are not eager to be around them due to body odor, bad breath, or general stigmas about poor hygiene. This social isolation further contributes to poor mental health. It is a good idea to educate your clients about hygiene, facilitate opportunities to encourage hygiene and grooming practices, model appropriate hygiene and grooming for your clients, and empower clients to maintain healthy standards in their personal care. Don’t be afraid to get creative! For example, a long term care center could bring in a hairstylist and a barber monthly and let resistant clients know that they have an “appointment” to get their hair cut, washed and styled.

Watch the following video to learn more about how hygiene and grooming support dignity in care, and empower clients to develop closer social relationships with others.

Video: Dignity in care: personal hygiene (14:20):

Click here for a video transcript in .docx format: Video Transcript

Practice Makes Perfect

Hygiene or grooming? Complete the following short quiz by identifying whether each example is an issue with hygiene or grooming.


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