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  • Helpful explanations of how the body works


    Blood pressure

    Body temperature

    Fluid balance


    Body weight

    And more, all in one handy booklet!

    Skills for CareWest Gate, Grace Street, Leeds LS1 2RP

    telephone 0113 245 1716fax 0113 243 6417email info@skillsforcare.org.ukweb www.skillsforcare.org.uk

    Skills for Care 2011

    Ref: DS022



  • Physical health

    Part of the Learning through Work seriesSA


  • Physical health - Part of the Learning through Work series (2011)

    Published by Skills for Care, West Gate, 6 Grace Street, Leeds LS1 2RP www.skillsforcare.org.uk

    Skills for Care 2011 Ref: DS022

    This is a priced publication and must not be copied or reproduced in any way without the express permission of the publisher.

    Skills for Care is the employer-led strategic body for workforce development in social care for adults in England. It is part of the sector skills council, Skills for Care and Development.

    This work was researched and written by Alexander Braddell, working to a commission from Skills for Care.

    Bibliographic reference data for Harvard-style author/date referencing system:

    Short reference: SfC 2011 (DS022)

    Long reference: Physical health - Part of the Learning through Work series, (Leeds, 2011) www.skillsforcare.org.uk (DS022)



  • 1. Monitoring physical health2. Energy3. Breathing (1)4. Breathing (2)5. Cardiovascular system6. Heartbeat7. Pulse8. Blood pressure9. Heart conditions (1)10. Heart conditions (2)11. Body temperature12. Keeping warm, staying cool13. Fluid balance14. Nutrition 15. Glucose16. Diabetes17. Body weight18. Pressure sores19. Quiz




  • When monitoring a persons health and well-being, it is helpful to have some understanding of

    The heart

    Blood pressure

    Body temperature

    Fluid balance


    The booklet explains important aspects of how the body works. It also explains the language we use when we talk about physical health.

    The booklet is divided into topics (one per page).

    It is designed for busy people each topic can be read in less than three minutes.

    Using this booklet



  • How to use this booklet

    Find a couple of colleagues

    Read a topic together

    Agree what it means

    Discuss how it relates to your own work

    See if your supervisor or manager agrees

    Decide how you can use what you have learned to improve the quality of care

    Talking with colleagues is the key

    The moment you start talking about something, youre thinking about it.

    Once you start thinking about it, youre learning.

    Tip Start with a topic that interests you. Dont feel pressured learn at your own pace and remember what they say:Days that make us happy, make us wise!



  • Monitoring a persons physical health is an important part of caring for the person.

    One of the ways we monitor physical health is by taking measurements.

    Things we measure include

    Body temperature

    Pulse (i.e. heart rate)

    Blood pressure

    Respiratory (i.e. breathing) rate

    Blood glucose (i.e. sugar) level

    Fluid intake and output

    Caloric intake


    Body mass index


    1. Monitoring physical health



  • There is a normal range for all these measurements, but within that range individuals vary.

    Taking accurate measurements over a period of time helps to tell us how a particular persons body works.

    Accurate records of the measurements help us to notice any change in the persons health at once.

    That allows us to make timely adjustments to the persons care plan.

    Accurate measurements

    Accurate records

    Effective care planning

    + = SAMP


  • Human bodies need energy to function. The body creates energy from nutrients and oxygen.

    The air we breathe is about 20% (one-fifth) oxygen. The rest is mostly nitrogen. We take air into our lungs. There the oxygen passes into our blood.

    Our heart pumps the oxygen-carrying blood through our blood vessels to every part of our body.

    This is called the cardio-respiratory system.

    Food and drink provide nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, sugars, minerals, vitamins).

    What we eat goes to our stomachs and intestines. There, the nutrients pass into our bloodstream and circulate throughout the body. This is the digestive system.

    One of the most important nutrients is glucose, a type of sugar.

    See page 15 for more on glucose.

    2. Energy



  • 2. Energy

    Our bodys cells combine oxygen with glucose to create energy.

    For this process to work, the inside of our body (i.e. organs such as the liver, kidneys etc) needs to be around a certain temperature, normally about 37 Celsius. See page 11 for more on body temperature.

    There must also be enough water in the body. See page 13 for more on body water.

    Waste products

    The waste products from creating energy in this way include the gas carbon dioxide. The blood carries this back to the lungs and we breathe it out. SA


  • Breathing or respiration is one of four vital signs that measure the bodys basic functions.

    The other vital signs are

    Pulse (i.e. heart rate)

    Blood pressure

    Body temperature

    We breathe to bring oxygen into the body and take out carbon dioxide. We inhale (breathe in) oxygen and exhale (breathe out) carbon dioxide.

    Air from our mouth and nose goes down our airways (the trachea and bronchial tubes) into our lungs.

    There it reaches the alveoli, tiny air sacs.

    Here oxygen passes into the bloodstream while carbon dioxide passes out into the lungs to be exhaled, a process called gaseous exchange.

    3. Breathing (1)



  • Mouth and nose


    AlveoliThey are tiny and there are millions of them

    Inside the alveoli oxygen going into the blood,carbon dioxide going out into the lungs




  • Respiratory rate is the number of breaths a person takes per minute.

    We calculate it by counting how many times the chest rises in a given period of time, usually one minute.

    Healthy adult = between 12 and 20 breaths a minute and up to 45 during exercise.

    People with asthma, heart disease or diabetes may take many more breaths than a healthy person two to three times as many.

    Breathing rate does not change much with age.

    An elderly person should be able to breathe easily. Breathing problems are not normal.

    Did you know? Respiration is from spirare (say it: spi-rah-ray), Latin for breathe. Vital (as in vital signs on page 3) comes from vita, Latin for life.

    4. Breathing (2)



  • Asthma We line our airways with a thin layer of mucous.Normally, this mucous coats our airwayswithout obstructingthe flow of air.

    During an asthma attack, we tightenour airways and secrete more mucous.This extra mucouscan then block our small airways.

    This reduces our ability to inhale oxygen and exhalecarbon dioxide.

    To compensate, we breathe harderand faster.




    Blocked airway




  • 5. Cardiovascular system

    The body is supplied with oxygen and nutrients by the blood.

    Blood is circulated through the body by the cardiovascular system.

    Cardio = heart

    Vascular = blood vessels

    The heart is a muscle with four chambers: the right and left atria (Latin for hall) and the right and left ventricles (Latin for belly).



    Right ventricle




  • Oxygen is added to the blood in the lungs. This oxygenated blood goes through the hearts left atrium to the left ventricle.

    The left ventricle pumps it out to the rest of the body through the arteries (that carry only oxygenated blood).

    The arteries narrow into arterioles and into hair-thin capillaries that take the blood into all parts of the body where the oxygen is absorbed by the bodys cells.

    The deoxygenated blood (now carrying carbon dioxide away) is sent back through capillaries that widen into veins.

    Veins carry the deoxygenated blood back to the hearts right atrium and ventricle. They pump it back to the lungs, where carbon dioxide is replaced with oxygen and the cycle begins again.



  • 6. Heartbeat

    The heart pumps blood by contracting and relaxing (like a fist squeezing and unsqueezing). We call this pulsation the heartbeat.

    What happens during a heartbeat?The left and right atria contract at the same time.

    This is called the atrial systole (systole means contraction). It forces all the blood in the atria down into the ventricles.

    The ventricles then contract. This is called the ventricular systole. It forces blood out into the vascular system of arteries and veins.

    After the atria and ventricles contract, they relax. This is called the atrial and ventricular diastole.

    The diastole allows first the atria and then the ventricles to fill with blood, before the next systole.

    How to say it Systole = sis-tuh-leeDiastole = di-as-tuh-lee (Both words come from Greek, the first European language of science.)



  • Two sounds are associated with a heartbeat. Both are caused by valves o