First day on assignment


The first moments on a new assignment are very important, but at the same time often stressful for both parties. The first impression matters a lot, so we present a few tips that will make everything go much easier.

How does it all happen? Step by step:

Upon arriving at the assignment location, you familiarize yourself with the Care Recipient, their family, and the Substitute, if you are going on an exchange. At any time, you can also contact the Coordinator, who will help you in all situations and answer your questions.

How to prepare for the trip?

– Before leaving, remind yourself of the basic vocabulary in German related to care, elderly diseases, and situations from everyday life such as shopping, cooking, dressing, washing, and care.- Save the contact information of your Coordinator, your company’s details, the Care Recipient’s details and address, as well as the details of the carrier who will transport you to the assignment, so that you can contact them if necessary.
– Prepare a list of questions for the substitute if you are going on an exchange. Exchanges often happen quickly and under stress, making it easy to forget to ask about important matters. Below, we provide some sample questions that may appear on your list:
– At what time does the Care Recipient wake up and go to sleep?
– Does the Care Recipient eat meals at regular times?
– Does the Care Recipient have specific habits? If so, what are they?
– Does anyone visit the Care Recipient? If so, who and at what times?
– How do you operate household appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and ovens?
– What does free time look like during the assignment? Does someone else take care of the Care Recipient during free time?

What should you take with you?

-Identity documents such as ID card, driver’s license (if you have one)
-Mobile phone with roaming activated and charger
-Debit/credit card (in Germany you can pay with Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, and Cirus), some cash in  EURO currency for your own expenses – it is always worth securing yourself for unexpected situations
-Necessary hygiene products, clothing, a small towel, and medicines if you take any
-Comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes

-Note with the emergency calling formula in German (an example is attached at the end of the article)

While packing, remember that carriers usually
have baggage limits, usually up to 25-30 kg.

What to do upon arrival at the Care Recipient’s home?

Upon arrival at the assignment location, you will receive necessary information regarding your duties, the senior’s daily plan, as well as any medical and dietary recommendations from the Care Recipient’s family and the previous Caregiver, if you are going on an exchange. It is also worth knowing the Care Recipient’s state in terms of physical and mental activity, and how they like to spend their time. Find out where the nearest store, pharmacy, and service points are. Establish rules with the family for using the Internet and your free time.

Remember to have a positive attitude and a sincere smile – this will definitely make a good first impression on the Care Recipient and their family! Good relations with the family will make your work time more enjoyable. We deeply believe that caring for another person can also be a passion if it is done with enthusiasm, care, and dedication.


If you find conditions at the assignment location that differ significantly from those previously agreed upon or the health condition of the Care Recipient does not match the previous information, be sure to contact your Coordinator immediately! Similarly, if the Care Recipient or their family requires additional duties from you that were not previously discussed. If you have any questions or doubts, call your Coordinator, they are there to help you.

What activities are caregivers not allowed to
perform according to German law?

-Interfering with the skin, such as administering injections or insulin, is prohibited.

-Caregivers are not allowed to administer medication to the Care Recipient themselves – the Caregiver’s task is to ensure that the Care Recipient takes their medications, while their distribution is handled by German medical assistance or a family member. Additionally, caregivers should not measure blood sugar levels or apply compression socks to the Care Recipient.

What to do in emergency situations?

Remember that panic is not a good advisor. If there is an accident involving you or the Care Recipient, call the emergency number in Germany (Notruf) as soon as possible – tel. 112 and report the incident. Under this number, just like in Poland, there is an Emergency Response Center, which depending on the situation, will redirect you to the police, ambulance, or fire department. Provide the address where the accident occurred, as well as the name, surname, and age of the injured person, and the details of the event.

Here’s an example of how to call an ambulance in German, which you can write down on a piece of paper and leave by the landline phone at the Care Recipient’s home:

Guten Tag, ich heiße Halina Kowalska. Ich bin Betreuerin von Frau Schmidt. Meine Pflegebedürftige ist ohnmächtig geworden. Sie hat hohes Fieber und ich kann ihren Puls kaum spüren. Meine Adresse ist Hasselbrookstrasse 10 in Hamburg.

 Hello, my name is Halina Kowalska. I am the caregiver of Mrs. Schmidt. My care recipient has fainted. She has a high fever and I can barely feel her pulse. My address is Hasselbrookstrasse 10 in Hamburg.

Important rules:

– We do not open correspondence intended for the Care Recipient or their family unless agreed upon beforehand.
– We do not leave the Care Recipient alone.
– Always keep track of money. If the Care Recipient or their family entrusts you with money (for shopping, paying bills, or doctor’s visits), you should record every expense.
– Remember, under no circumstances should you consume alcohol or any other substances while at work! You are taking care of another person, and this is a big responsibility for their life and health! We act in a fully professional manner and do not tolerate such behavior.

Whole-body washing and partial washing can be done in different ways:

Bed Bathing: Care recipients who, due to their health condition (including after surgery or an accident), cannot take a bath, shower, or wash while sitting at the sink, must be bathed in bed, lying down.

Aids for Bathing the Senior in Bed:

  • Disposable bed sheets
  • Towels
  • Pads
  • Diapers in case of urinary incontinence
  • Garbage bags for used hygiene products
  • Healing ointments
  • Possibly replacement bedding within reach
  • Several washcloths (at least 2)
  • Several small towels (at least 2)
  • pH-balanced cleansing products
  • A washing basin
  • Hand disinfectants
  • Gloves

During back washing, changing diapers, and dressing, the senior should be turned carefully. It is important for the senior not to feel pain. During washing, the skin should also be thoroughly examined for any changes or abnormalities. Take care of sore, dry, cracked areas of the skin – it is best to discuss this with relatives, doctors, or specialists.

Sample method of bed bathing a care recipient:

  1. Place hygiene products and all necessary tools within reach of the bed, including a change of clothing. Communicate with the care recipient at all times to let them know what you intend to do.
  2. Place disposable bed sheets, pads, or towels under the patient.
  3. Check the water temperature for the care recipient’s bath. If the temperature is room temperature, you can proceed with the bath.
  4. Disinfect your hands, change gloves, and uncover the care recipient.
  5. Undress the upper body of the senior.
  6. For partial washing of the upper body, include washing the face and armpits. For full-body washing, include washing the face, neck, décolletage, chest, abdomen, arms, hands, armpits, and back.
  7. Wash the front side first, then the back, and dry each area with a towel.
  8. After washing, apply healing creams suitable for the type of condition on dry, cracked areas of the skin or wounds.
  9. Dress the upper body (if necessary, put on an undershirt, and then a blouse).
  10. Undress the lower body of the care recipient.
  11. Disinfect your hands.
  12. Wash the lower body. For partial washing, wash the genital area and disinfect your hands. For full-body washing, wash the feet, legs, genital area, and disinfect your hands, then dry with a towel.
  13. After washing, apply healing creams suitable for the type of condition on dry, cracked areas of the skin or wounds.
  14. Dress the lower body of the care recipient, and in case of incontinence, check the diaper and change if necessary. Put on underwear, or trousers, put on socks, turn the care recipient or let them grab the bed rail to pull up all clothing items.
  15. Cover the senior with a light blanket, as the body may be slightly cooled after contact with water.
  16. Clean all tools that were used for washing and discard those that were for single use.
  17. Place the dirty clothing of the care recipient in the appropriate containers.
  18. Disinfect your hands.
  19. Shower

Showering and bathing are treated equally in terms of care. It is best for the care recipient to take a shower or bath once a week. Often, showering or bathing is facilitated by nursing or caregiver staff. These basic hygiene measures are only implemented when the general condition and circulatory status of the senior allow it. In this case, it is advisable to wash the care recipient’s hair at the same time.

If the person requiring care is mobile enough to enter the bathroom independently, the caregiver simply supervises them. However, if the person requiring care cannot access the bathroom independently, the caregiver must assist them. This may involve bringing them to the bathroom and seating them on a shower chair or in front of the sink in a wheelchair.

Aids for washing the senior in the bathroom include towels, diapers in the case of urinary incontinence, garbage bags for used hygiene products, ointments for wounds and healing, changing pads, several washcloths (at least 2), several small towels (at least 2), pH-neutral cleansing fluids, pH-neutral shampoo suitable for the skin, gloves, and non-slip footwear. Before assisting with a shower or bath, the caregiver should also wear non-slip footwear and, if necessary, a shower apron.

– Prepare the bathroom by ensuring cleaning supplies are within reach, and the floor is dry to prevent slipping. Consider laying down non-slip mats if available.
– Ask the care recipient to undress and put on non-slip shoes.
– Allow them to check the water temperature to their preference.
– Seat the care recipient on the shower chair.
– Ensure the care recipient is comfortable taking a shower independently, offering assistance if needed.
– Provide soap and a washcloth/sponge for washing their face, offering help with washing their hair if necessary.
– Provide a separate washcloth/sponge for washing the upper body.
– After washing the upper and lower body with soap, rinse off the lather under running water.
– Thoroughly dry the care recipient’s body and hair.
– Apply balms or recommended creams to the senior’s body if needed.
– Dress the upper and lower body of the care recipient.
– Style the hair according to the care recipient’s preference, using a hairdryer, curling iron, etc.
– Encourage the senior to independently maintain body hygiene under the caregiver’s supervision if capable, as it is crucial for their mental well-being.
– After completing hygiene tasks, clean the bathroom by wiping the floor dry, cleaning the shower or bathtub, and organizing any equipment and aids.
– Place dirty laundry in the appropriate containers.

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Hair washing in bed

Recipients who cannot get out of bed due to their health condition must also regularly wash their hair and scalp. This hygienic activity should be carried out at least once a week.

Aids for washing hair in bed: hydrophobic pads, 1 washcloth, 1 bucket, 1 hair washing basin for bedridden individuals, pH-neutral shampoo, towel, water bowl, small cup, optionally fresh bedding and change of clothes.

Before washing the hair, the care recipient must lie flat on their back.
– Place waterproof pads under the care recipient’s head.
– Position the hair washing basin directly under the care recipient’s head.
– Place the bucket on the floor to collect the water from the hose attached to the hair washing basin.
– Rinse the care recipient’s hair with a small stream of water using one hand, and use the washcloth to protect the face from splashes.
– Thoroughly wash the damp hair with shampoo.
– Rinse the hair thoroughly with a small stream of water, protecting the face from splashes with the washcloth or washcloth.
– Dry the care recipient’s hair with a towel and, if necessary, blow-dry it.
– Carefully remove the basin and the hydrophobic pad.
– If necessary, replace the wet or dirty bedding and clothing.
– Style the hair according to the care recipient’s wishes.
– Clear, clean, and wash the equipment and aids used for washing the hair.
– Empty the bowl and the hair washing basin in the bathroom and clean them together with the tools and all the equipment.

Mobilization of the care recipient

In addition to supporting the senior in daily activities, it is very important to organize their free time through mobilization. Mobilization definitely contributes to improving the physical and intellectual fitness as well as the physical and mental health of the care recipient. Exercise causes an increase in endorphins, the so-called “happiness hormones”?

Mobilization techniques:

As years go by, people often become more sedentary and may have less inclination for physical activity. Especially people with health problems need their daily lives to be as smooth as possible. Therefore, daily life is routinely based on basic care activities, and seniors do not always ask for additional mobilization. An experienced caregiver is aware of the importance of proper activation of the care recipient.

Depending on the physical, mental, and health condition of the care recipient, different mobilization techniques can be combined in the daily lives of seniors:

Physical mobilization – it is important to prevent muscle atrophy in the care recipient and to make them feel partially independent:
– Gymnastics can be conducted in a group of seniors (e.g., fitness for seniors, water aerobics, dance classes for seniors, senior yoga) or at home (e.g., sports exercises with balls/ribbons that can also be done while sitting) with the help of a caregiver.
– Daily exercises such as short walks, climbing stairs, taking out the trash together, and going shopping together – help stimulate muscles daily and combine household chores with physical exercise.
– Physiotherapy – performed by a specialized physiotherapist should be carried out after prior consultation with a doctor. Physiotherapy includes various strengthening, stretching, and relaxing exercises aimed at the rehabilitation of body parts and the maintenance of their functions.

Motor mobilization to strengthen sensory perception of hands, fine motor skills, and maintain them in good condition is recommended:
– Occupational therapies – take care of hand coordination through exercises such as painting/writing tasks, creative tasks (e.g., handicrafts) using different materials (e.g., creating a collage from leaves found on a walk). The occupational therapist instructs the senior during sessions on what exercises to perform, then at home, the senior with the help of the caregiver completes the “homework.”
– Exercises involving the gripping of various materials and objects help train both hand muscles and sensory perception. Ideal for this purpose are spiked rehabilitation balls, so-called hedgehog balls, which the senior picks up from the table with one hand and then passes to the other. The care recipient can also roll them on their legs or arms.
– By performing basic household duties independently, the care recipient has a sense of independence and usefulness, so it is worth encouraging them to perform tasks together:
– Meal preparation, e.g., cutting fruits and vegetables, spreading bread, kneading or mixing dough.
– Hanging wet laundry or folding dry laundry.
– Dusting.
– Light gardening tasks, e.g., watering, planting, or sowing flowers; picking fruit.
– Partial personal hygiene, e.g., washing the face, neck, décolleté, or independently applying face cream.
– Dressing with the assistance of a caregiver.

Cognitive mobilization is extremely important for the senior’s sense of psychological security, maintaining good memory, and the ability to think clearly:
– Daily communication is necessary for the care recipient to perceive events and situations around them, to be aware of what is happening in their life, the lives of their loved ones, in society, and in the world. Therefore, the caregiver should ask the care recipient about their well-being, suggest topics for conversation, and involve the senior in the process of making decisions about daily activities, e.g., planning the weekly menu, planning activities, outings, walks.
– Reading together helps exercise cognitive processes: receiving, processing, and implementing acquired information. If the care recipient has vision or concentration problems, it would be best if the caregiver regularly reads books/newspapers to them. If the senior likes to read independently, the caregiver can encourage them to read aloud, and then discuss the contents of the book/newspaper together.
– All kinds of puzzles are a fantastic activity for seniors, e.g., guessing songs based on the sounds of the melody, recognizing animals based on their typical features or sounds they make, playing a finish-the-proverb game, guessing everyday objects from picture puzzles or guessing an object placed in a bag based solely on touch. For example, if thematic puzzles are conducted in a group, besides being stimulated to think, the participants also strengthen their social skills in mutual exchange of possible solutions.
– Keeping a calendar allows the senior to strengthen their time orientation and the ability to classify important dates and holidays for them. At the same time, daily marking of the calendar day is a recurring activity that helps exercise memory.

Activation techniques for care recipients with dementia.

Dementia not only takes away important life memories but also gradually limits the daily abilities and skills of the senior as the disease progresses. Due to the deterioration of cognitive abilities, individuals affected by the disease find it increasingly difficult to manage activities such as eating, using the toilet, or running independently. Special mobilization techniques are available to counteract dementia:

– 10-minute activation: Individuals affected by the disease are activated for 10 minutes at a specific time each day. Below are examples of active time spending:
– Memory games
– Puzzles/checkers/chess
– Proverbs game
– Singing together
– Reading books, newspapers, old journals aloud
– Handicrafts, e.g., making seasonal window decorations
– Drawing a memory from a special moment in life
– Photographing the surroundings
– Watching photos from the senior’s youth together
– Telling interesting stories, describing experiences in stories
– Creative work, e.g., clay or clay sculpting, origami, embroidery, sewing, crocheting, knitting, decoupage
– Participation in cultural events, e.g., watching movies together, going to museums, watching performances, participating in senior music events

A consistent, daily rhythm helps sick people strengthen their sense of security. When activities are performed at regular times, the ward will eventually get used to the established rhythm and will initiate further routine activities on their own. It is important for the daily rhythm to include the following arrangements:

– What time are meals served? (breakfast, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner)
– What type of personal hygiene takes place at what time? (e.g., in the morning: 8:00 – partial washing; in the evening: 19:00 – full body washing)
– What are the rest periods during the day? What time is the wake-up call, and when does the ward go to bed?
– What therapies take place during the week? (e.g., Monday – 10:00: speech therapy; Thursday – 15:00: occupational therapy)
– When are the daily activities taking place? (e.g., 10-minute warm-up always in the morning after getting out of bed)

Activation techniques for permanently immobilized persons

Activating permanently immobilized seniors poses a challenge for many caregivers because the words “active” and “immobile” seem to exclude each other. However, mobilization occurs at different levels, so it can also be implemented in permanently immobilized wards:

– Loud reading with visual stimuli (e.g., showing pictures – children’s books with large motifs are ideal here)
– Listening to music together
– Physical stimulation, e.g., massaging hands with spiked rehabilitation balls

If possible, immobilized individuals can be activated in a chair or wheelchair so that food can be served at the table. All the limbs of the senior’s body should be regularly moved to prevent contractures and bedsores. While providing care and assistance with daily activities, the caregiver should communicate with the ward, provide opportunities for conversation, discussion, and ask questions:

– Is the water temperature suitable?
– Which shirt would you like to wear, sir/madam?
– What activity would you like today, sir/madam?
– Talk about important events (e.g., upcoming birthdays, holidays)
– Discuss popular topics among seniors (e.g., music, sports, seasons, animals, pastimes, hobbies, gardening, health, etc.)