MH32 Enable individuals to maintain their personal hygiene and appearance


This standard covers enabling individuals to maintain their personal hygiene and appearance where they are in need of such assistance for whatever reason.  It covers supporting individuals in undertaking all forms of personal hygiene care and personal presentation, including those individuals who make use of specialised equipment to assist them in these tasks.

The support which the individual wishes and needs is confirmed with them and the support given is appropriate to the individual’s needs, with the aim of encouraging individuals to be as self-managing as possible and motivating them to present themselves appropriately. The individual’s preferences and wishes must be taken into account, including those arising from cultural or religious norms, and their privacy and dignity respected.  Conflicts that may arise between individual choice, good hygiene practices, the individual’s care plan and your own feelings need to be acknowledged and dealt with appropriately.

This standard does not address the provision of on-going support for individuals who require assistance with physical care aspects of daily living including assistance with eating, drinking, defecation and urination.

This standard applies to those who work with individuals who are able to contribute to maintaining their own personal hygiene and appearance but need some specific support, whether it be physical assistance or advice and guidance.  It will be relevant to those who provide personal care to individuals in all care settings - hospital, residential, day-care or in the individual’s own home.

Users of this standard will need to ensure that practice reflects up to date information and policies.

Version No 1

Knowledge and Understanding

You will need to know and understand:

  1. basic anatomy and hygiene - the parts of the body which may need particular attention and the reasons for this
  2. why, when discussing hygiene and concerns with the individual, you should use language with which the individual is familiar, avoiding jargon and unnecessary clinical terms
  3. why any pain, discomfort or change should be reported to an appropriate member of the care team
  4. reasons for maintaining personal hygiene
  5. why you should demonstrate good standards of personal cleanliness yourself
  6. why the use of special clothing and other precautions should be fully explained to the individual
  7. why infection control is important, and methods to limit the spread of infection
  8. the purpose of discussion and agreement with the individual on the level of support required and the standards of cleanliness which they think appropriate for themselves
  9. why privacy and dignity should be maintained
  10. why toiletries and materials should be the individual’s own and not shared
  11. why the individual should be encouraged (but not pressurised) to be as self managing as possible
  12. factors which affect the individual’s ability to maintain their personal cleanliness
  13. indicators of pain and discomfort related to the differing parts of the body and what these signs may indicate
  14. the way that medical conditions, age, personal beliefs and preferences affect the degree of assistance required
  15. the ways in which an individual’s choice of methods for maintaining personal cleanliness is related to their personal beliefs and preferences (such as race, culture and religion)
  16. the conflicts which might arise between individual choice, good hygiene practices and the individual’s care plan
  17. the impact which the use of prostheses, orthoses or other accessories and aids may have on the individual’s methods of maintaining personal cleanliness
  18. significant changes in dressing and grooming for different individuals - what these mean and why they should be reported
  19. factors affecting choice such as cost, how clothes are laundered, availability etc
  20. your own feelings regarding the individual’s choice of dress and appearance and the ways in which these can be controlled so that they do not affect the support offered to the individual
  21. the conflicts which might arise between individual choice regarding dressing and grooming and your and others’ choices and preferences
  22. correct methods of cleansing (e.g. the correct way to brush teeth and clean gums)
  23. how physical changes and sensory equipment, orthoses, prostheses and camouflage creams may require different methods of dressing or different adapted clothing
  24. how an individual’s personal beliefs and preferences may affect dressing and grooming and why their choices should be taken account of at all times

Performance Criteria

You must be able to do the following:

  1. discuss and agree the support required and the activities and type of personal hygiene care to be undertaken with the individual encourage them to be as self-managing as possible
  2. give individuals the opportunity to choose the personal hygiene care facilities, materials and toiletries which they prefer
  3. discuss conflicts between the individual’s needs, wishes and choices about personal cleanliness, the care plan and the facilities available with the individual and resolve them amicably
  4. ensure your dress, approach and own personal hygiene are consistent with recognised good hygiene practice and you explain the reasons for any particular forms of dress and protection in a manner appropriate to the individual
  5. ensure that the temperature of the water and of the room is consistent with the individual’s preference and condition
  6. arrange personal grooming and dressing facilities for individuals which are comfortable and which provide them with a level of privacy consistent with the level of risk involved
  7. ensure that toiletries, materials and equipment are safe and place them within the individual’s reach and provide the individual with the appropriate equipment to call for help
  8. give individuals support and assistance in a manner which:
    1. promotes their dignity
    2. maximises their independence
    3. is consistent with their personal beliefs, preferences and care plan
    4. causes as little discomfort as possible
  9. discuss any problems with the individual and where further specialist help might be needed, you arrange this with their agreement
  10. discuss any concerns that the individual may have with the use of any sensory equipment, prostheses, orthoses or creams, and agree a solution
  11. refer individuals to the appropriate member of the care team where it is not possible to support them with their concerns
  12. provide appropriate support for the individual in the use of any dressing equipment that they may have been prescribed
  13. encourage individuals to use any prescribed accessories and creams which are consistent with the care plan
  14. encourage and support individuals to keep their personal clothing and grooming items clean and secure
  15. report any significant changes in the individual’s personal grooming and dressing promptly
  16. maintain accurate, complete and legible records of problems or significant changes
  17. clean washing facilities after use and make them ready for the next use, disposing of waste products in a safe manner and place

Additional Information

This National Occupational Standard was developed by Skills for Health.

This standard links with the following dimension within the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework (October 2004):

Dimension: HWB4 Enablement to Address Health and Wellbeing Needs
MH32 Enable individuals to maintain their personal hygiene and appearance
Final version approved June 2010 © copyright Skills For Health
For competence management tools visit tools.skillsforhealth.org.uk