An accident, debilitating disease, disability or old age are some of the circumstances that can make someone to be confined to a wheelchair. It can be hard for the individual and it can also be confusing for their loved ones especially when it comes to helping them perform their daily activities. Activities like showering and dressing can be a bit difficult for someone in a wheelchair. Loved ones may wonder how to go about doing something like washing hair of someone in a wheelchair.
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Washing hair of someone in a wheelchair
Most times, other people help the individual in the wheelchair wash their hair.
They can do this by using alternative methods specially adapted for them.
If your client or loved one is wheelchair-bound, washing their hair can be a bit technical because you have to be careful so that you don’t hurt their neck or back by over-bending it.
Also, a wheelchair-bound person will not like it if they are totally soaked after the hair washing session is over.
You’ll also not like it if the whole place looks like a mess after washing your loved one’s hair.
Sometimes people who use a wheelchair have to be transferred to a comfortable chair to have their hair washed.
However, not every case can be that way.
Frequently transferring someone from a wheelchair is not an easy task, especially if you have to do it often.
It is not only stressful for the person assisting the wheelchair-bound individual, but it can also pose some potential risks to the person being carried.
In a case where you can’t transfer the person to another seat, you will have to wash their hair while they are seated in their wheelchair.
Doing this as a first-timer can be a bit difficult and confusing.
Positioning the wheelchair when washing hair
The positioning of the wheelchair matters a lot when washing their hair.
Sometimes, you can leave the wheelchair in the upright position.
In other cases, you might have to tilt it a little so that it can be on the same level with the sink.
If you have to tilt the chair, remember to always lock the brakes of the wheelchair.
Some chairs have anti-tip wheels so remember to unlock them or tipping it will be impossible.
If you have a loved one who uses a wheelchair or you work in a nursing home, you do not have to be confused about how to go about washing their hair.
The modern age has made things easier than they were.
Some products have been designed for the specific purpose of making it easy for you when washing the hair of someone in a wheelchair
Before these products were manufactured, people had to resort to using traditional means to wash their loved ones’ hair or a client’s hair (if they were in a nursing home).
The traditional methods or old school methods do not come without risks and complications.
These risks can range from a concussion to a stroke.
Thankfully, these assistive devices have been designed to make the hair washing process for a wheelchair-bound person easier.
Helpful products during the washing process
In this section, I will explain how the following six products can help you during the hair washing process; as well as how you can use these products effectively.
Portable Shampoo Bowl
A portable shampoo bowl/sink is flexible, can be carried around and can be used anywhere.
It usually comes in a box when bought.
You will have to join the various parts together by carefully following the instructions laid out by the manufacturer.
It comes with a stand, basin and an adjustable hose that drains the water.
Another interesting feature of the basin is it can be adjusted to any height you want.
The basin can be tilted in different ways to fit the client’s position.
It drains anywhere you want it to, so far you extend the hose there.
You can drain the hose in a sink or a big bucket.
You can carry this bowl anywhere or position it at a convenient place depending on what you feel is best for your client or loved one.
This bowl works like a traditional basin except that it is not stationary.
You can roll the basin in any direction.
Before using It, ensure it is properly coupled to prevent it from sliding off or falling.
Put the wheelchair and the basin close together.
Adjust the height to the same level as the base of the neck.
Tilt the person’s head carefully to put the hair inside the bowl.
If the position isn’t right, you can do some adjustments until it is perfect.
Ensure the hole is draining to the proper place before you start washing the hair.
When you are done, clean the bowl. You can then choose to pack it up or leave it the way it is.
Hair Washing Tray
The hair washing tray was designed to help wheelchair-bound persons bridge the gap between their neck and the sink so they don’t have to bend too much.
It is designed with a hook and loop strap that helps to secure it around the neck of the person.
The strap is made of cotton to make sure it doesn’t hurt the user’s neck.
The end of the tray should be put in a traditional basin so that the water can drain into it.
It helps to reduce the risk of water spilling and makes it easy to wash the hair of your loved one or client.
The tray is lightweight and can be easily strapped around the neck without any trouble.
To use this product efficiently, you can tilt the wheelchair a bit.
Make sure to put the safety of the person in mind.
When you have successfully put the person in a proper position, strap the tray to the person’s neck and put the end part in the sink.
To be extra careful, you can put a towel around the person’s neck.
Ensure the strap is not too tight or loose but perfectly firm.
Apply shampoo to the hair and massage it through the hair and scalp.
Gently pour water on the hair to rinse off the shampoo. Remember to clean the tray after use.
Inflatable Shampoo Basin
You can also wash their hair while they are in bed.
The inflated shower basin makes it possible.
Just as the name implies, it is usually inflated by blowing air into it to make it bigger and usable.
It comes with a hose that can lead to a bucket on the floor.
When inflated it is shaped like a traditional hand basin.
It has a space for the neck and the hollow where the hair falls into.
Before you start to use it, ensure you blow some air into it so that it’s firm.
Do not blow too much air because this will make it too big.
Do it moderately so that it is firm enough to stay on the bed.
Get a towel and place it on the bed before putting the shower basin.
Just like you would do with a traditional hand basin, place a towel on the neck opening of the basin to prevent water from spilling to the person’s body.
Using the safest method for the person, lift or roll him/her carefully and ensure that their neck is positioned properly on the neck opening of the shampoo basin.
Ensure all of the hair is inside the basin.
Put the drain line in a bucket by your side.
Get some water in a plastic bottle or a quart (whichever you prefer).
Pour some shampoo on your palms.
Work a small amount of the shampoo between your hands and then massage it gently into their hair and scalp (using both hands).
When you are done, use one hand to pour water on the hair and rinse off the shampoo.
Remember to pull out the drain plug so that water can flow through the tube to the bucket you have placed by the side.
When you do this carefully, there will be no mess.
Shamp-ease Comfort Cape
Its benefits are not only for the user; it also has some juicy benefits for the person washing the hair.
It helps improve the ergonomic posture of the operator because he/she doesn’t have to bend more than necessary while using this cape.
The comfort cape can be used anywhere: at a salon, at home, nursing home or a healthcare facility.
The cape is made of flexible, lightweight and sturdy materials, and it can be folded in any direction.
It helps the operator wash the person’s hair while standing in an upright position.
The cape can fit different sizes of the neck.
It has different hook positions and can be hooked to fit the client’s neck perfectly.
Position the user close to the sink, using the hooks at the top of the cape, and then strap the cape to the user’s neck.
You can easily remove the hook by twisting it forward.
Put the bottom end of the cape inside the sink so the water can drain into it.
Gently massage shampoo into the hair and scalp and then rinse it off carefully.
With this cape, your client or loved one does not have to bend forward or backward, you can wash their hair while they sit in an upright position.
This product was made specifically for physically-challenged people.
It was designed with enough flexibility to make hair washing easier for them.
The funnel is efficient and useful for a person who cannot move their head or neck.
It helps you wash their hair while they are seated in an upright position.
The funnel has a sealed vinyl funnel that prevents messes like water leakage or spillage.
It also has an adjustable velcro, so it can be used for all head sizes.
While the person is seated in an upright position in the chair, carefully comb the person’s hair so that it all falls backward.
Strap the hair funnel to the forehead (the part where the hair starts) using the velcro and adjust the velcro until it fits perfectly.
Ensure the velcro is not too tight so it does not cause the person any pain.
When the hair funnel has been properly fixed, carefully dampen the hair with some water and start washing.
While using the hair funnel, try not to use too much water so you don’t soil the person’s body and mess up the floor.
There are situations where it is impossible to use water to wash the hair.
For these kinds of situations, the shampoo cap comes in handy.
The shampoo cap is latex and alcohol-free and made to improve convenience in hair washing especially for the physically challenged.
It helps to clean, condition and remove odors from hair.
The cap does all of these things without the use of water and it leaves no mess.
This product can be used anywhere and it is very comfortable to use.
For effective results, heat the cap in a microwave for less than 15 seconds.
Ensure it is not too hot to avoid burning the scalp.
Remove it from the microwave after the 15 seconds, and gently put over the person’s head.
Massage it through the hair until it fully saturates the hair.
This should only take 1 minute. However, if the hair is longer, you should do it for 2-3 minutes.
After you have thoroughly massaged it through the hair, remove the cap and discard it.
Use a towel to clean the hair after removing the cap.
You don’t need to use water, after cleaning the hair with a towel, the whole process is done.
This method can be used for anybody who is bedridden or in a wheelchair.
It reduces the risk of messing the surroundings and the person’s body.
The assistive devices mentioned above make life easier for anyone who is physically challenged.
Some of them – like the shower cap – can even be used independently by your client/loved one.
In cases where you have to wash the hair of someone in a wheelchair please note that every wheelchair-bound case is unique so they cannot all be treated the in the exact same way.
If you are dealing with an individual who has medical issues, always check with a professional such as a nurse, a physical therapist or an occupational therapist to give you helpful tips on how to position the person before you start washing the hair.
These professionals will give you advice based on the person’s diagnosis.