Bathing is one of the most difficult activities I have to perform as an occupational therapist assistant. This is because it is common for people to trip and fall while transitioning from the shower or tub to the toilet.
This is usually the last thing I teach patients and their caretakers before they are discharged from the hospital. Prior to this stage, I instruct family members on how to safely wash a patient in their bed.
This may seem unusual at first, but with a little help, it can be a doable objective for you as a caretaker and an essential aspect of your own well-being.
What is a bed bath?
When a person can’t get out of bed, a bed bath is used to wash them. It’s possible that you’ll have to wash the whole thing or just a few spots.
Why are bed baths important?
As unglamorous as it may seem, giving a patient a bed wash is an incredibly necessary part of their care. Bed baths keep patients’ skin clean and dry, which minimizes their risk of getting rashes and other skin irritations by keeping them dry and clean. Keeping surgical sites clean and free of infection is an additional benefit of this procedure. Your patient or loved one’s psychological well-being can also be greatly aided by making them feel more clean, fresh, and respectable.
What Supplies Do I Need for a Bed Bath?
Your home health nursing bag will have to wait this time, as you won’t need it for most caregiving tasks. Rather, you’ll require:
- Some fluffy washcloths
- a number of hand towels
- Soapy water in a bowl
- Clean water in a basin
- A mild, non-irritating cleaner such as baby soap
- Personal care goods, such as lotions and deodorants
- Covering for the bed that is watertight
- Everything needs its own table.
- Blanket with a light weight
How should I prepare to give a bed bath?
- The temperature in the room can be maintained by either closing the windows or turning up the heat.
- Warm water should be added to the sink. Make sure the water temperature does not exceed 115° F (46° C). In the absence of one, the water should be warm enough to your elbow.
- To keep the bed dry, place a few towels under the person. Help the individual undress while he or she is being covered with a blanket or towel. A blanket or towel can be used to keep a person warm as they take a bath.
How do I give a bed bath?
To ensure a safe and effective bed bath, you should follow these steps:
Put on gloves and wash your hands before explaining the procedure to your loved one. Speak slowly and carefully so that they understand what is going to happen during the operation.
Make sure your loved one has privacy by closing the doors and drawing the curtains. For your own convenience, if they’re lying on a hospital bed, raise the headrest to about waist level.
Help your loved one undress by placing a towel (or small blanket, if desired) on top of their body. With their wrists, measure the temperature of the water in the basin.
Place a cloth under the body portion that is being washed to protect it. Disinfect and dry each portion of your body one at a time. The reason we do this is to protect your loved one’s privacy/dignity as well as to keep them warm.
In the following order, bathe your beloved:
- Use a clean part of the washcloth for each eye and wash from the center outwards on the eyes, face, ears, and neck.
- Take off one arm at a time and set it on top of an unwaxed towel to dry. Rinse and pat dry after washing with a warm, soapy washcloth. Wash your chest and abdomen in the same manner.
- Place a towel beneath each leg or foot as you take them out from under the towel. Rinse and pat dry after washing with a warm, soapy washcloth. Rinse and dry completely between the toes, as well as the rest of your body.
- Place a towel lengthwise next to your loved one’s back to help them roll onto their side. Long downward strokes are recommended for the backs of the neck, rear, and buttocks. After rinsing and drying, proceed with the recipe.
- Provide support and encouragement to your loved one as they attempt to roll back onto their stomach. Make sure your buttocks and thighs are supported by a towel. This area should always be cleaned with fresh basin water. To avoid a UTI, ladies should only use a small amount of soap. A new washcloth should be used for each stroke, therefore use a clean section of the cloth each time. Pat yourself dry after rinsing.
Applying a fragrance- and dye-free lotion after the bath can help avoid skin dryness, which can lead to micro-tears and infection on the skin. While you’re at it, clean under your nails, inspect your toenails, and, if necessary, clip them. Toenail thickening is a natural part of aging and might be dangerous to treat on one’s own. Consider contacting a mobile podiatrist or scheduling a regular visit with a podiatrist to clip and clean as necessary.
When Possible, Encourage Participation
If your loved one is able, encourage them to help you wash the dishes. In addition to helping to preserve mobility, flexibility and functional stamina, this will also add an element of control to the work. In the event that your loved one is unable to engage in a bed bath, you, as the caregiver, can follow this detailed step-by-step guide.
However, you can encourage your loved one to do as much of the washing themselves as possible, with you as their guide, in accordance with these guidelines. During steps 1 and 2, they have the option to sit at the edge of the bed if they like (if it is safe to do so).
Common Issues With Bed Baths
As an OT, I found that administering bed baths to patients was not always an effective use of my time. The method took me a few years to master because of this. As you may expect, I made a few mistakes.
The following are some of the more common problems I’ve run into, as well as some solutions:
- Before I learned how to properly administer a bed bath, this was a major issue for me. After changing the patient’s sheets and transferring him or her into and out of bed, I would often find myself creating even more work for myself. Use towels under each body area as stated above and wring out the washcloth to avoid this problem.
- You should wash, rinse, and dry one body part at a time, putting it back under the privacy towel to keep your loved one warm. Make sure the water isn’t getting too cold by changing it out as often as necessary. Consider using a thicker blanket instead of a towel for privacy if you know your loved one is sensitive to cold.
- Bathing avoidance: Older folks frequently refuse to take a bath. The loss of vision, diminished sense of smell, and diminished memory are a few possible explanations. Gentle reminders or a regular bathing regimen can be useful. Depression can lead to a loss of interest in personal hygiene as a result of a loss of function and control over one’s life. Contact your loved one’s doctor if you feel they are depressed.
What should be done after the bed bath?
- Soak the person’s hands, feet, or other dry regions in lotion.
- Help the person get dressed by removing all wet towels.
- Dirty water should be dumped and the basins cleaned.
Bed Bath Follow-up Care
Clean your hands when you’ve finished officially bathing the bed. After that, apply lotion to any areas of the patient’s skin that are particularly dry, such as the feet, and allow it to absorb. Help your patient get dressed by removing any wet sheets or towels from the bed. The dirty water should be disposed of, the basins cleansed, and the used towels and washcloths put in the laundry.
Embarrassment is understandable, but mastering the art of the bed bath is a simple procedure. To give a bed wash like a pro, follow these simple steps.
Tips For Giving A Bed Bath
- Gloves should be used if there is a potential that you may come into touch with bodily fluids such as blood or drainage.
- Except for the area you are washing, keep your loved one covered when taking a bath. They don’t become as cold as if they weren’t wearing it.
- To prevent the spread of germs, wash the cleanest parts of the body first and the dirtiest parts last.
- Submerge the area being cleaned under a towel. Towels can be used to soak up any surplus water from the shower and keep the sheets dry after a bath.
- In between the creases of the skin, wash and dry thoroughly.
- Don’t let the washcloth dry completely dry out.
- Use a gentle cleanser. Ivory (Dove), Ivory (Baby Soap), etc.
- Make sure there is no soap left on the hands after you’ve cleaned them.
- After the skin has been cleansed, pat it dry.
- While taking a bath, if the water gets too cold, you should refill the tub.
- After a shower or bath, moisturize the skin with a lotion to help it regain its hydration.