A bed bath is an important part of medical care for a person bedridden due to hospitalisation or disability. Feeling clean is a boost to morale for hospitalised patients, but bed baths also help prevent infections and other conditions. The process of a bed bath is a challenge in any setting. In a hospital, however, you have the benefit of special equipment or extra hands to help. Often, a family member or nursing assistant has only a few bathing supplies and knowledge of the patient's ailments. Performing the bed bath properly protects the patient from harm and loss of dignity.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Table, cart or tray
- 2 large basins
- Wash cloths
- Disposable latex gloves
Set the temperature in the room to keep the patient warm during bathing and close the curtains or blinds for privacy.
Fill two large basins or bowls with warm water -- one for washing and the other for rinsing. The water temperature should not exceed 46.1 degrees Celsius. Use a bath thermometer to test the temperature, especially if the patient has a condition that affects the ability to feel temperature on the skin.
Place the water basins, several large towels and a couple of large blankets, wash cloths, soap and plastic gloves on a table or tray near the patient's bed. Put a wash cloth in each basin. Put on the disposable gloves.
Pull the bottom sheet down to the bottom of the bed so it does not get wet. Use the proper procedure for removing linen while a patient is in the bed -- move the patient from side to side and lift the torso. Remove the sheets entirely if you plan to put fresh linen on the bed.
Lay a large blanket or large towels under the patient's entire body. You might need to move the patient from side to side to get the blanket or towels in place. Cover the patient with a large towel or blanket and remove the top sheet, leaving the top covering in place.
Remove the patient's clothing, starting at the top of her body. Adjust the covering as you move along to keep the patient warm and provide privacy. The patient will need to be on her back as you begin the bed bath.
Use the cloth from the wash basin and, without soap, clean one eye by gently wiping the eyelid from the inner to the outer corner of the eye. Dry the eye with a towel and repeat the procedure on the other eye.
Apply mild soap to the cloth from the wash basin and wash the patient's face, ears and neck. Use the rinse cloth to remove the soap and dry the wet areas with a towel.
Wash the patient's underarm, arm and hand on one side of the body while the arm rests on a rolled towel. Rinse off the soap and dry the wet areas with a towel.
Fold the blanket down to reveal the chest and stomach and wash these areas with soap, rinse them and dry them well with a towel. Re-cover the chest and stomach with the blanket or towel.
Roll the patient up and away from you to wash his shoulders, back, side, hips and down to the foot and toes. Rinse the soap away and dry the wet areas with a towel.
Roll the patient up and away from you to wash her shoulders, back, side, hips and down to the foot and toes. Rinse the soap away and dry the wet areas with a towel. Change the water in the basins, and change wash cloths and towels, if necessary.
Move to the other side of the body and repeat the washing, rinsing and drying on the patient's underarm, arm and hand and the body from the shoulder to the foot and toes.
Wash the patient's genitals quickly to limit his discomfort. Raise the covering enough to reveal the genitals and soap, rinse and dry. Wash under a man's testicles. Wash a woman's labia without performing deep or invasive cleaning. Wash this region by tilting the body or raising the knees.
Remove the damp blankets and towels and replace the coverings on the patient's body with dry towels or blankets. Add extra layers if necessary to keep the patient warm.
Remove the damp blankets and towels and replace the coverings on the patient's body with dry towels or blankets. Add extra layers if necessary to keep the patient warm. Dress the patient and replace the bed linens.
Tips and warnings
- Spread a waterproof sheet under the patient to keep the bed dry so it can be remade quickly after the bath. Hospital mattresses are vinyl, but wet vinyl can prolong the time it takes to remake the bed.
- Maintain the technique throughout the bed bath -- soap, rinse and dry. Use one cloth for washing and another for rinsing. Rinse well to prevent leaving soap residue to dry the skin.
- Wash using a stroke in the direction of the patient's heart to improve blood circulation.
- Re-cover the patient with the blanket or towel quickly after washing to keep him warm.
- Shampoo the patient's hair using a shampoo bowl and towels under her head. Use a mild shampoo, such as baby shampoo, and wash and rinse the hair using several bowls of water.
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