Bedside bathing or sponge baths have changed patient care a lot over the past few years. No-Rinse body washes and shampoos
and Peri-Wash products
have improved, making them better solutions for the patient and caregiver. The No-Rinse products feel better on the skin, they don't leave a sticky uncomfortable residue and they are less likely to irritate and dry out skin, even skin that is sensitive and fragile due to injury or age. There are many bathing aids
that can help you make your patient comfortable during their bedside bath.
When is a Bedside Bath or Sponge Bath a Better Choice?
- Ask yourself, is the person I am caring for experiencing a lot
of physical pain? Do slight movements make that pain worse? Getting up
and getting out of bed is no challenge to a healthy person but to
someone who is sick or hurting, it can be a huge obstacle.
- Is the patient disoriented and prone to falls due to lack of balance
and strength? Getting them up, out of bed, on their feet or transferred
into a wheelchair can be hard to do, especially when you are the only
caregiver. If a person is unsure of their surroundings it can also be
difficult to move them alone.
- Is the patient tense or scared? This may surprise you, but many
patients will find a bedside bath to be relaxing when done properly and
with care to privacy and dignity. Being able to stay in bed without the
effort of transfers and then feeling clean and fresh can be the
pick-me-up your patient needs.
What supplies will I need for Bedside/Sponge Baths?
- Several large, clean, dry towels
- An extra clean sheet to cover your patient after you finish cleaning a section
- At least five clean washcloths, they can be reusable or disposable, each section needs a new cloth
- No-Rinse Soap and a Peri-Wash Skin Cleanser
- Large bowl of clean warm water
- Fresh change of clothes or a patient gown
How to Give a Bedside Bath/Sponge Bath:
- Start at the patient's head and gently wash the face and ears using the warm water and gentle no-rinse cleanser. If you need to wash the patient's hair, you can use an inflatable shampoo basin to make the job easier and less messy. Simply put a towel under the neck and use the basin to catch the water. When you are finished, remove the basin. Cover the hair with a towel so the patient doesn't feel chilled.
- Divide the rest of the body into sections, arms, torso, legs, back, genitals, and bottom between the legs. Each section should have a new washcloth. Start at the top of the body and work your way down. Use clean water and gently wet and then clean the skin. The No-Rinse soap does not need to be washed off but you can if you would like. Use the clean towels to pat the skin dry. Cover the area with the sheet once you have cleaned the area so your patient doesn't feel chilled.
- Use new, clean water to wash the patient's private areas. Use the Peri-Wash skin cleanser, it is specially formulated for and gently cleanses urine, emisis and fecal matter. First wash the genitals, then move toward the buttocks, always washing from front to back.
- Make sure your patient is warm and comfortable.
- If your patient has dry skin, take this time to apply lotion. Make note of any red or damaged areas of skin. Look for any issues with pressure sores.
- Dress your patient and remove and put away bathing supplies.
Tips for Better Bedside/Sponge Baths:
- Make sure the room is warm and drafts are eliminated as much as possible. The patient's comfort needs to come first, even if that means you as their caretaker will be a little warmer than you would prefer.
- Gather supplies so you have everything you need at hand so you don't have to run to another room and leave your patient alone. If you do need to leave, let your patient know, communicate with them!
- Try playing soft music
- Adjust the lighting so there will not be harsh lights shining in your patient's eyes while they are being bathed. You don't want them to feel like they are on display.
- Don't forget to talk to your patient! Always ask them if you can give them a bath, explain what you will be doing, and let them know what to expect. You can also chat about your day and ask them to tell you about themselves, conversation can help put them at ease and lessen the potential embarrassment they may feel.