A person who is bedridden requires extensive care, attention, and most importantly, respect. Caregivers must work together to ensure that patients retain their dignity and self-worth, and nowhere is this more applicable than in the case of personal hygiene.

Everyone has a right to take care of themselves, and as the caretaker, it is your responsibility to ensure that the patient’s personal hygiene routine is followed to their satisfaction and with minimal fuss. If you or someone you know is the caretaker for a bedridden person, a bed bath is a great way to ensure that the patient is clean and content. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  1. Get the patient as comfortable and relaxed as possible. Calmly explain what you are going to do, put on relaxing music, and make sure the environment is quiet and private. Fill a basin with warm water (46 degrees or less); offer the patient the bedpan/urinal before removing their robes.
  2. Cover the patient with a light sheet and blanket, and fold down the linens to uncover the patient’s top half. Remove the top portion of their clothing.
  3. Tena Wash Cream
  4. Gently wash the patient’s face, ears, and neck with mild soap that has been applied to a washcloth or sponge. Be sure to take lots of care not to get soap in the patient’s eyes!
  5. Rinse the washcloth and wring as needed until the soap has been removed; alternately, you can skip this step entirely by using a rinse-free cleanser. Pat dry (do not rub!) the washed areas with a towel.
  6. Repeat steps 3-4 with the patient’s shoulder, armpit, arm, and hand. Make sure to dry the underarm thoroughly, as it is prone to chafing and bacterial growth.
  7. Place the towel across the patient’s chest and repeat steps 4-5 for the patient’s chest and/or breasts, as well as their abdominal area.
  8. Expose the legs and remove any clothing below the waist. Repeat steps 4-5 on one side, and place a towel beneath the leg on the other side. Switch to the other leg, and repeat.
  9. Change the bath-water in the basin, and ask the patient to roll on his/her side, exposing their back (assistance may be necessary). Repeat steps 4-5 to the anterior side of the patient’s neck, back, buttocks, and legs.
  10. Put on disposable gloves and wash the patient’s genital area, perineum, and anus (the patient may wish to do this themselves – let them do so, but make sure they wash their hands afterwards). Rinse and dry thoroughly.
  11. Apply moisturizer and barrier ointment to prevent pressures sores and diaper rashes. Dress the patient once more.

Products like the EZ-Bathe offer an alternative to the steps outlined above; the user simply rolls onto the 22-gauge vinyl tub, which is inflated around them. Whichever method you choose, remember to treat your patient with kindness, patience, and respect –they deserve it!