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China's elderly benefiting from rising assisted bathing services

By Zhang Yu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-24 19:00

Elderly disabled individuals in China who face difficulties in bathing have a new solution through professional teams that provide assisted bathing services.

"This form of service is particularly good because we are unable to bathe her ourselves. They have specialized equipment and professional staff, reasonable fees, and excellent service. This industry should be strongly supported," said a son of a 92-year-old disabled elderly woman, who surnamed Wang in an interview with China Daily.

He contacted a senior assisted bathing company called "Bathing Enjoyment in Life" through a WeChat video account. The company was registered at the end of 2022 and focuses on assisted bathing services. During its nearly one-year operation, the company has provided services to over 600 elderly people.

The bathing process takes approximately 1-2 hours, and involves assembling the bathtub, measuring the elderly person's temperature and blood pressure, assessing their bathing conditions, and then hairdressing, bathing, nail trimming, and massage, according to Wang Jianchun, manager of the bathing service provider.

"The assisted bathing industry in China is still in its early stage, and our company mainly draws on experiences from other countries in terms of personnel training, service processes, and professional equipment," he said.

During the assisted bathing process, the bath attendants establish strong connections with the elderly individuals and their families, thus receiving unexpected bonds via this work.

Qi Fengzhi, a 53-year-old female bath attendant, said that choosing to be a bath attendant is a benevolent and virtuous act, as it allows her to assist disabled elderly individuals. She plans to continue working in this profession.

Similar experiences have been observed in other bath attendants. Zhang Zhiming, a 48-year-old resident of Laishui county, Baoding of Hebei province started to work as a bath attendant in 2021.

"My parents and several other elderly relatives all need specialized care, especially for bathing, which inspired my idea of becoming a bathing assistant," she said.

"I received systematic training on how to communicate with the elderly, how to control the water temperature and how to provide delicate bathing techniques during a research trip to Kunming, Yunnan province in October 2021," Zhang said.

She emphasized the importance of ensuring that elders' physical conditions are suitable for bathing, especially for those with limited mobility or disabilities.

According to Zhang, the body temperature of the elderly ranges from 33 C to 35 C, so they maintain the water temperature at around 34 C to 36 C, which is 1 C higher than their normal body temperature.

The room temperature should be between 23 C and 28 C during the bath. "Excessively high ambient temperature can cause discomfort, such as chest tightness, in the elderly," she said.

However, many elderly people are resistant to being bathed by others.

Zhang once helped bathe an old male teacher from Hugezhuang village in Laishui county, who refused to accept the bathing service from a female as he thought was embarrassing.

"We will give them the utmost respect. Generally, we let them wear vests and shorts before getting into the inflatable beds for bathing," Zhang said.

Some elderly are wrapped in a large towel during bathing to minimize their sense of shame and make them feel respected and cared for, she added.

After their service, the man who resisted being bathed came to appreciate their work. "In the past, I didn't want to trouble my children and just let the nursing worker help me wipe my body. This time, it felt really comfortable to be thoroughly washed," the man told Zhang.

"I'm very happy to get the nice feedback because our original intention was to help the elderly have a better life with a clean and comfortable body," Zhang said.

Yang Zishuo contributed to this story.

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