Section 2: Purpose of guidance and definitions
Regular personal footcare helps people to remain active, mobile and independent for as long as possible. It also helps to prevent some health problems from developing, by identifying them at an early stage. Foot problems can lead to discomfort, pain, and increased risk of falling, infection and ulceration. Most people are able to carry out personal footcare themselves or with the help of relatives or carers, however for those who cannot, it is important for them to be able to obtain services locally.
There is some confusion about what is meant by personal footcare and the difference between this and podiatry. In some areas it is unclear to users of the service; their families carers who should provide personal footcare and how it can be accessed. This document aims to clarify these issues, to provide examples and guidance about what good personal footcare support or services should look like, to define the educational needs of those providing footcare and signpost them to useful resources. To support the implementation of the guidance a series of national educational resources have been developed and a part-time national footcare lead has been appointed for a 2 year period from April 2012.
The guidance has been developed by a national working group which includes representatives from: Age Scotland, Care Inspectorate, Local Authorities, The Faculty of Podiatry Managers Scotland (of the Society of Chiropodists & Podiatrists), NHS Boards, NHS Education Scotland, Scottish Care, Scottish Diabetes Foot Action Group, Scottish Government and the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists.
The information will be helpful for:
- Strategic leaders in health and social care service providers e.g. executive directors in health boards and local authorities
- Managers in health, social care, third, independent or voluntary care sectors, who are involved in planning or providing personal footcare services
- Managers of home care services and their staff
- Podiatry Services in NHS Boards
- Managers of care homes and their staff
This document may be of interest to people who need help with their footcare or for relatives and carers who support people with personal footcare. A leaflet that details specific information for service users is also available.
What is personal footcare?
The following definition has been adapted from the Department of Health (DH) document Footcare: Footcare services for older people: a resource pack for commissioners and service providers (DH, 2009).
The term personal footcare covers a set of tasks that an adult, whatever their age, would normally do for themselves. When this becomes difficult for a person to do for themselves, their family, friends or carers may choose to do it for them. Conditions which can make it difficult for someone to care for their own feet include sight impairment, arthritis, dementia, general frailty and inability to reach their feet.
Personal footcare includes these tasks:
- Cutting, clipping and filing toenails safely, and keeping them at a length which feels comfortable.
- Smoothing and moisturising dry and rough skin
- Keeping feet clean, dry, comfortable and warm
- Checking for cracks and breaks in the skin and signs of inflammation
- Looking for signs of infection or other obvious early problems and seeking professional advice
- Checking all footwear for comfort, fit, state of repair and safety
Note: Information about how to carry out these tasks is provided in the educational resources which accompany this guidance.
Email: Jenny Ackland