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Remove, minimise or report environmental factors causing discomfort or distress


This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2023 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

An individual’s well-being can be promoted by ensuring that they are as comfortable as possible in their environment, so it is important that care workers are able to identify and remove or minimise environmental factors that may be causing discomfort or distress.


This is especially true for individuals that are unable to adjust their environment for themselves, for example, due to disability or illness.

A person-centred approach should be used to identify negative environmental factors. The most simple method is to ask the individual if they are comfortable, but you may also discover things that may be causing them discomfort by observing them. For example, if an individual squints their eyes tightly when a light is turned on, it probably indicates that it is too bright for them.


Environmental factors that may cause discomfort or distress


Environmental factors that may cause discomfort or distress to an individual can include:

  • Lighting – is it too bright or too dark? Can you adjust the lighting? Open/close the curtains?
  • Noise – is there excessive background noise? This could be loud noises from an external building site or more subtle sounds such as the constant hum of a piece of machinery. Perhaps you could close the window to minimise noises outside or turn off a piece of machinery if it is not essential.
  • Temperature – is it too hot or too cold? Can you adjust the temperature? Maybe open or close a window?
  • Unpleasant odours – perhaps from a nearby clinical waste bin or dirty linen. Could the source of the odour be cleaned or relocated? Could a window be opened to ventilate the room?

Of course, there may be times when it is not possible for you to remove or reduce something in the environment that is causing an individual discomfort. For example, if you are providing care, you will require adequate light to perform your role safely, or a noisy piece of equipment may be essential to an individual’s health, so it cannot be powered off.

In these cases, you should report any concerns to your manager for further advice and guidance.


Reporting concerns

You will usually report any concerns you have to your manager; however, the responsible person may be the individual’s main carer or a family member.


By reporting your concerns, you can get advice about making adjustments from people with more experience in the care industry or more knowledge of the particular individual. If they are unable to give any guidance straight away, they should look into the issue and may need to do a bit of research before identifying a way forward.

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