Completing Body Checks in Care Settings: Sensitivity Skills
People receiving services may not be able to report pain, injury, or illness, or may not recognize abuse or neglect. Body checks are an important tool to assess a person for these issues. The timing and manner of conducting body checks are key to their effectiveness in safeguarding people receiving services.
Body checks can be used to determine if an injury has occurred, the extent of an injury, if there has been a change in a person's condition from the time of admission, or to obtain a baseline of information.
Preserving the privacy and dignity of people receiving services is also a critical component of the body check process and sensitivity training is recommended for all staff. The list below is provided to support training and practicing sensitivity skills for body checks and related tasks.
Consider the environment
Conduct the body check in a private and comfortable room. Choose a location that is separate from other people receiving services and has a door that can be closed.
Know the individual
Complete all training on plans of care for people receiving services so staff is familiar with their background, diagnosis, strengths, needs, experiences, preferences, and accessibility needs.
Be aware of your own personal biases, triggers, comfort with the person and/or their diagnoses to maintain a therapeutic approach.
Take part in sensitivity training exercises that will help you better understand the experience of people who are different from you. For example: walk across a room blindfolded or be fed by another person. Show patience and interest in learning and understanding the person. Practice active listening by remaining attentive, quiet, and accepting.
Explain the process, ask permission, and offer choices
Let the person know you value and respect them. Ask for permission to proceed, then tell the person what you are doing or planning to do before beginning the body check. For example, “I heard you just fell. It’s important that we check your body to know if you hurt yourself. Do I have permission to check for injury?” Offer choices. For example, “Would you like to take your shirt off or do you want help?” “I can help with that now or we can wait until Chris is free if you prefer.”
Reflect and validate concerns
Reflect what you hear or see the person communicating. For example, “I see you pulling away. Do you need me to do something differently?”, “I heard you say you want Yolanda to help you instead…”. Validate the person. For example, “I can understand why you feel more comfortable with more familiar staff. Do you want me to ask Yolanda if she can help you instead?”
Be human, acknowledge mistakes
Apologize when mistakes are made. For example, “I am sorry that I touched the controls on your wheelchair without asking first.” Or, “I am sorry that I did not explain why I took that picture and who will see it.”
Maintaining a solid body check process is key to creating a more respectful work and living environment. Looking for more information on this topic? Download our full toolkit below: