Cleaning Your Patient Effectively

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For nurses, home caregivers, CNAs or other assistive personnel, there will inevitably come a time when cleaning a patient will take priority. Elderly incontinence is one of the main reasons patients need to be cleaned, and a home caregiver may not have the proper skills to perform such a task. Although cleaning a patient seems like a relatively simplistic job, there are a few skills that should be reviewed so that in any situation the healthcare personnel will be effective.

Moving The Patient During Cleaning

Cleaning a patient often relies on the caregiver to move the patient effectively. When a patient cannot move on his or her own, one will need to manually move the patient. The best way to move an immobile patient who is bedridden is by using the log rolling method. The log roll method relies on having a pad or towel underneath the patient prior to moving them. For the single health care worker to move a patient, he or she should lower the bedrails, lean over the patient, and grasp the patient’s perineal pad and pull back toward the side of the bed where they are standing. If the patient has traction, casts, or any immobile device, the healthcare worker must pay special attention as to where the device is situated so it can be properly returned to that position. For patients in traction, two healthcare personnel should be involved with any type of movement.

Proper Cleaning

Proper cleaning begins at the top of the patient and progresses down. The most effective way to wash a patient’s hair is to use a basin and soak the patient’s head with warm water. Do not worry about soaking the bed sheets because you will be changing them after you bathe the patient. If water is a concern, there are water free shampoos that can be dried off with a towel. No water spills or messes. After soaking the head, be sure to shampoo the hair in a firm but gentle manner. Patients who have not been cleaned properly can develop “cradle cap” in their scalp, which are lesions due to excessive oil. While washing the hair, the face can be cleansed at the same time. Do your best to keep soap and water away from the patient’s eyes although there may be some residual. While washing down the body, make sure you keep your patient’s privacy by undressing as washing progresses. Let the patient know when you will be cleaning their perineal and genital areas. If the patient can complete this task it may be better to let them. As you clean below the waist line, the healthcare worker should monitor for any type of pressure ulcers. Cleaning is the perfect time to inspect for any new or chronic injuries. Be sure to report

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