How to give a complete bed bath

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Giving someone a complete bed bath requires time, patience and respect for the patient's privacy and dignity. It can be a great time to converse with your patient and give them the personal attention they may not otherwise receive. A bed bath refreshes the bedridden patient and makes him feel more comfortable. As the caregiver, ensure that you provide them with this level of comfort throughout the entire process.

Be sure you have everything you need before you begin. Gather your supplies next to you on a stand or table so they are within easy reach.

Provide privacy. Whether you are giving the bed bath in a nursing home or in the patient's home, you will want to close the drapes or the door to give the patient privacy and to keep out any draft.

Undress the patient. Fold back the sheet of her bed to ensure it stays dry during the bath, then undress the patient. Immediately cover her with the blanket you have brought in to keep her warm and keep her dignity intact.

Wet one washcloth. The best way to wash a patient when he is in bed is to fold the washcloth around your hand, tucking the ends in so it forms a mitt. This prevents the washcloth from slapping against the patient's fragile skin. Be sure the washcloth is wet enough for the soap to lather, but not dripping wet, letting water to fall on the edge of the bed.

Begin washing. Always wash the face first. This requires no soap, only water. Once you have finished, dry the face with a towel. Move to one of her arms, removing the blanket only from the area you are washing, leaving the rest of her body covered for privacy and warmth. You will want to place a towel under the area you're washing to prevent the bed sheet from becoming wet. Once the arm is washed, rinsed and dried, move on to the opposite arm. Continue this process for the entire upper and lower body. Gently roll the patient over to wash her back and buttocks, excluding her anus.

Change the water. You will change the water during the bed bath for two reasons: If it has grown tepid or if you are preparing to wash the genitalia and anus. You also use the second washcloth to wash these areas. Once the patient has been cleansed from head to toe, redress him and help reposition him in bed so he is comfortable.

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