Daily living - Activity 4: Washing and bathing
Activity 4 considers a claimant’s ability to wash and bathe. ‘Washing’ means cleaning ones whole body, including removing dirt and sweat. ‘Bathing’ means getting into and out of either a standard bath or shower. Shower can include shower attachments for a bath. As with all the other activities, a claimant is to be assessed as satisfying a descriptor only if they can do so reliably.
The descriptors for Activity 4 are -
- Can wash and bathe unaided. 0 points
- Needs to use an aid or appliance to be able to wash or bathe. 2 points
- Needs supervision or prompting to be able to wash or bathe. 2 points
- Needs assistance to be able to wash either their hair or body below the waist. 2 points
- Needs assistance to be able to get in or out of a bath or shower. 3 points
- Needs assistance to be able to wash their body between the shoulders and waist. 4 points
- Cannot wash and bathe at all and needs another person to wash their entire body. 8 points
NB - in Scotland, adult disability payment is replacing personal independence payment and the descriptors are found in Part 2 of Schedule 1 to the Disability Assistance for Working Age People (Scotland) Regulations 2022 (SSI.No.54/2022).
Terms used in the PIP descriptors are defined in regulations and, in relation to Activity 4, are -
- “aid or appliance” - (a) means any device which improves, provides or replaces [the claimant's] impaired physical or mental function; and (b) includes a prosthesis;
- “assistance” means physical intervention by another person and does not include speech;
- “bathe” includes get into or out of an unadapted bath or shower;
- “prompting” means reminding, encouraging or explaining by another person;
- “supervision” means the continuous presence of another person for the purpose of ensuring [the claimant's] safety;
- “unaided” means without - (a) the use of an aid or appliance; or (b) supervision, prompting or assistance.
Source: Regulation 2 of and Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Social Security (Personal Independence Payment) Regulations 2013 (SI.No.377/2013), and regulation 2 of and Part 1 of Schedule 1 to SR.No.217/2016 in Northern Ireland.
See also DWP guidance on Activity 4 in section 2.3 of the Personal Independence Payment assessment guide for assessment providers.
NB - in Scotland, adult disability payment is replacing personal independence payment and the definitions are found in regulation 2 of and Part 1 of Schedule 1 to the Disability Assistance for Working Age People (Scotland) Regulations 2022 (SSI.No.54/2022). See also Social Security Scotland guidance in Daily living component activity 4 for ADP – washing and bathing.
Commentary: In  UKUT 252 (AAC), the Upper Tribunal found that, where a person has to remove their hearing aids in order to have a bath or shower and that means they cannot hear or identify a typical alarm, then they should score 2 points under this activity - either for needing an applicance such as a flashing light in the bathroom, or for supervision so that another person can ensure they are safe. Judge Perez also found that the assessment of risk was not subjective and that First-tier Tribunals should not be able to make different decisions in this respect. These conclusions are binding unlike those made in  UKUT 251 (AAC) which suggested that First-tier Tribunals may come to different conclusions. In addition, in ADM Memo 9/21, published on 17 May 2021, the DWP advises that Judge Perez' findings in  UKUT 252 (AAC) only apply from the date of the decision which is 21 August 2020, and that it is carrying out an administrative exercise to identify claimants whose entitlement to PIP is affected by the decision.| Add commentary or suggest an edit.
Need for supervision where a person has to remove their hearing aids or cochlear implants while washing and consequently cannot hear a typical alarm
-  UKUT 252 (AAC)
- Assessing risk of harm to a claimant with hearing loss while washing and bathing
-  UKUT 251 (AAC)
Assessing an ability to wash the upper back must focus on washing rather than an ability to reach the area
-  UKUT 139 (AAC)
- Children may provide ‘prompting’ if their presence motivates a claimant to undertake PIP activities
-  UKUT 502 (AAC)
Claimant may be able to establish a need for prompting even if able to perform a specific task when there is impetus to do so
-  UKUT 194 (AAC)
- Anxiety and depression
- Dressing and undressing
- Engaging with other people face to face
- Fluctuating conditions
- Preparing food
- Substance misuse
- Washing and bathing
Descriptor 4(e) addresses the ability to get out of an ‘unadapted’ bath or shower / Consideration of whether ‘or’ is disjunctive
-  UKUT 190 (AAC)
- Reported as  AACR 43