What is Personal Care? A Complete Guide

Chris Williams
July 14, 2023

Personal care is a wide-ranging term. If you’re just starting to research, it can feel a little overwhelming. 

In short, personal care is a variety of areas where you or your loved one might need support, including washing, toileting and dressing, meal preparation, or other help around the home. This can help you to stay independent, and remain healthy or recover from an illness.

You might need personal care for a short time, for example after an illness or hospital discharge, or it might be something that you’ll need for longer.

What does personal care involve?

Personal care is tailored to your specific needs, so it can vary widely. Some people might need 24-hour care, whereas others might only need a short visit a few times a week. It’s a service that supports you in areas that you need a little extra help.

Everyone who receives care will have a personal care plan. This will explain what support you need and how it will be delivered. Care plans are guided by your needs and wishes, so if your needs change, then the plan can be reviewed and updated.

Personal care services may include:

Support with bathing or showering

Carers can help you enjoy a bath or shower. Many people worry about slipping in the bath or shower, and a personal care assistant can ensure that you are safe while showering or bathing.

Support with toileting and continence

Carers can help you while visiting the toilet or commode, or ensure that your continence pads are changed regularly. 

Moving and changing position

Carers can help you move around your home and garden if this is becoming difficult. If you need help to move in your bed or wheelchair, they can also support with this, to reduce the risk of developing pressure sores.

Support with foot care

Carers can help you wash and care for your feet, including checking them regularly, taking care of your nails, and applying lotion or dressings needed. This is especially important for people who are diabetic, but lots of people can benefit from some extra foot care.

Help with dressing

A personal care assistant can help you choose your clothes, and provide support when you’re dressing and undressing.

Dental care, shaving, haircare and makeup

Carers can help with these important aspects of personal grooming and oral hygiene. It’s important to continue with routines that you’ve enjoyed in the past, and if keeping a particular style is important to you, care workers can support this.

Meal preparation and feeding

A personal care assistant can help with meal preparation and feed you, if this is becoming difficult. You’ll be able to discuss your food preferences and take an active part in planning your meals. 

Medication support

Carers can prompt you if you need reminders to take medication, or even administer your medication if necessary.

Stoma and catheter care

Some carers can help with changing and caring for your stoma and catheter bags.

If you have other personal care needs, you can discuss them when your care plan is being produced, as well as with your carer at any time. Some people may want assistance with doing the shopping, housework, or other tasks such as picking up prescriptions.

Why do I need a personal care service?

Some people need personal care services because of mobility difficulties. You might need help getting around your home, bathing or toileting.

Others might need more medical care, such as support with diabetic foot care, or help with your catheter or stoma.

For others, it’s not due to physical health at all, but because of memory problems, learning difficulties or other reasons. You may need reminders to take your medication, or help with preparing meals or other everyday tasks around the home.

You or your loved one may need support for a short time after an illness, injury or hospital discharge. Or it might be something that you need long-term. Care plans can be reviewed regularly, and they should change when your needs do.

Who can provide my personal care? 

Some people receive personal care from family members or friends. For many reasons, this may not be an option for everyone – for example, your family may live far away, or you may need more support than they can offer.

Lots of people use professional care workers to provide a personal care service. For some people, this is done in a residential care setting, but many people prefer to stay in their own home and receive care there. Staying in your own home means that you’re in surroundings that you already know, you avoid the stress of moving home, and you can continue being part of your local community.

If you choose to have personal care in your own home (also known as home care or domiciliary care), you have several options. You might have a home carer come into your home just for the times you need care, or, if you need more care throughout the day, you might decide that live-in home care is the best choice for you.

Why is personal care important?

Personal care is vital to staying healthy, as well as supporting independence and dignity, for many people.

Support with hygiene, such as bathing and toileting or continence care, means that you or your loved one will be at less risk of infection.

Medication reminders and support allow you to feel confident that you’re managing any health conditions well.

Support from personal care in the home means that many people can stay in their own home, rather than needing to move into a residential facility. You can keep your independence and stay in your community, using the same GP and dentist, and continuing to see your neighbours and friends.

Personal care will give you and your loved ones peace of mind. You can trust that your care worker will be there to support you. They’ll notice changes in your health where action may need to be taken.

For people who live alone, personal care can also provide an important source of companionship. Many people form good relationships with their care workers, and look forward to their visits, or enjoy having them live with them.

How do I provide good personal care?

If you’re providing personal care for a loved one, it can be hard to know where to start. 

One of the most important areas to focus on is personal hygiene. This will include ensuring they have a bath or shower at least twice a week, and managing any continence issues.

Talk to your local council about getting a carer’s assessment . They may be able to provide you with information about local support groups, as well as any benefits you may be entitled to. Your council may also be able to offer manual handling training, so that you can avoid injuring yourself if you need to lift your loved one.

As a family carer, it’s important to take breaks. You can look into respite care for your loved one, where someone else would provide their care for a time. This could be at a day care facility or at your home, and either for a few hours, overnight, or for a longer time.

You may also decide to employ a professional care worker from a home care services provider for some or all of the care that your loved one needs.

Frequently Asked Questions
What do you mean by personal care?

Personal care is when you receive support with a variety of daily living tasks. This might include washing, meal preparation, feeding, going to the toilet and many other things. What personal care you receive will depend entirely on your needs and wishes.

What are examples of providing personal care?

Personal care can include support with washing, dressing, going to the toilet or changing continence pads, hair care and shaving, and getting up or going to bed. It may also include meal preparation and feeding, medication reminders, and some housework.

What does CQC mean by personal care?

When CQC talks about personal care, they are referring to a regulated activity where people are supported with tasks such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet or continence care. This might happen in a person’s home, a housing-with-care setting or a care or nursing home.

What is personal care and why is it important?

Personal care is a service tailored to your needs. A carer can support you with a wide range of tasks, such as washing, dressing, toileting and continence care, and meal preparation and feeding. It allows you to stay as independent as possible, as well as maintaining your hygiene and health.

Let us be your helping hand

Get in touch with Tiggo Care today to see how we can help you or your loved one.

Find Care