The ability to cleanse and dress is a fundamental need and involves far more than the physical act of cleansing the skin to reduce the potential for infection and injury.

Personal cleansing and dressing is also important in promoting the psychological, social, cultural and overall well-being of the individual. In acknowledging the importance of this aspect of care the Department of Health have outlined seven benchmarks for best practice, which include:

  • individual assessment of personal and oral hygiene needs;
  • planning negotiated care based on a sound assessment; 
  • providing a conducive environment;
  • ensuring that clients have toiletries for their personal use;
  • providing adequate levels of assistance; 
  • providing any necessary information and education to enable clients to maintain their individual personal hygiene needs.

Common terminology

Canthus                   The angle formed at the junction of the upper and lower eyelids

Gingivitis                  Inflammation of the gums

Glossitis                    Inflammation of the tongue

Halitosis                   Bad breath

Healthy mouth         Clean, functional and comfortable oral cavity which is free

                                 from infection

Periodontitis             Inflammation of the gums, palate and surrounding structures

Perineum                  The area of skin between the external genitalia and the anus

Personal hygiene      Physical act of cleansing the body to ensure that the skin,

                                  hair and nails are maintained in an optimum condition

Plaque                      A deposit of food and bacteria on the teeth, which may

                                 produce tartar and dental caries

Stomatitis                 Inflammation of the mouth

Tenting                     A sign of dehydration where the skin, when gently pinched, is

                                 slow to return to its normal state

Turgidity                  Degree of swelling

Xerostomia               Dryness of the mouth