Assisting individuals with bathing

Maintaining personal hygiene is essential for the preservation of health and the prevention of infection, and removal of body odour.

Individuals, whenever possible, should be encouraged to perform their own personal hygiene so that their independence is promoted.

Bathing may involve assisted washes in or out of bed, bed bathing, showering or immersion in a general bath.

Care must be taken throughout to keep wounds or dressings dry, and such considerations may influence the mode of choice.


The equipment required will vary according to individual client needs but may include soap, face cloth, two towels (one face and one bath), disposable wipes, clinical waste disposable bags, toiletries (for example, deodorant, perfume, aftershave), client’s comb/brush, bowl of hot water (35–40ºC), gloves and apron, lotion thermometer, suitable bath/shower, chair/shower stool, disposable floor mat, appropriate aids if bathing/ shaving, clean nightdress/pyjamas or clothing as required, clean bed linen/linen skip and a trolley/adequate surface.


  • Plan activity around client’s daily routine and in line with other nursing activities
  • Explain the procedure to the client
  • Collect and prepare the equipment
  • Prepare the environment so that it is warm.
  • Close windows and ensure privacy
  • Adjust the height of the bed if necessary.
  • Check brakes of bed are on
  • Ensure adequate space around bed area for equipment
  • Ask client if they wish to empty their bladder and/or bowels and ensure that they are pain free before bathing
  • Help the client into a comfortable position

  • Remove bed linen but leave one sheet covering the client
  • Assist the client to remove nightwear if necessary
  • Be aware of intravenous lines, catheters,drains, injuries and client’s level of mobility, and sequence removal of nightwear accordingly
  • Fill the bowl and check the temperature of the water using lotion thermometer. If client is co-operative ask them if the water temperature is to their liking
  • Ask client if they use soap on their face before commencing
  • Change the water as it cools or becomes dirty
  • Pay particular attention to the toenails and areas between the toes
  • If necessary assist client with brushing teeth and/or rinsing mouth (see ‘Assisting individuals with oral hygiene’, below)
  • Remove all equipment and leave the area clean and tidy
  • Ensure that the client is comfortable with desired articles within easy reach
  • Remove apron, wash hands
  • Document client’s reaction to the procedure in nursing care plan. Report any abnormal findings or adverse reactions and update care plan accordingly