If you need to help someone who is unable to get out of bed, a bed bath can be a really useful way to help them feel, clean and comfortable. Being clean is essential for personal happiness and well-being and is even more important if this is something that someone cannot do for themselves. This may include an entire bath or just assistance washing select areas.
A good bed bath requires lots of movement, lifting, holding and tilting. It requires quite a lot of strength, patience and discretion.
Usually, a bed bath should be given around twice a week, however the genital area and face should be paid attention to on a daily basis. In order to make this easier a pack of bed bath care wipes could be kept nearby.
Preparing the Bed Bath
It is important when preparing a bed bath to ensure all windows are closed to allow for privacy. Being washed is a personal action which should be handled with care, discretion and consideration.
Allow the room to heat to a suitable room temperature. A cold or overly hot room will cause discomfort.
If you’re using water: If you’re using water for the bed bath, prepare two bowls of warm water. One for washing and one for rinsing. Not too hot, nor too cold. You can test the water by dipping your hand into it to check to see if it is bearable.
If you’re using moist bed bath wipes: Open the packet of wipes and pull out a wipe ready to use as soon as you are ready.
Lay thick bath towels under the person from head to toe. These help to absorb the water and will protect the bed and mattress from spillages. It’s also worth using a waterproof sheet under the cloth sheet.
Cover the person with a blanket or towel to keep them warm as you help them to undress.
During The Bed Bath
Always ensure whoever you are bathing is safe and secure in the bed should you need to step out of the room for any reason.
Initially focus on washing the eyes and face with either your wipe or your wet flannel. Then move onto the neck and ears.
Remember: Always wash from face to toes. It allows you to remember what you have covered and stops any infections or bacteria spreading from one area to another.
Remove a fresh wipe from the bed bath or change the bath water before getting to the genital area and always make them the last place to wash.
For women, wash the genital area from front to back. For men, ensure you wash around the testicles as well as between the buttocks, rolling the person onto their side if necessary.
After The Bed Bath
Once dried, a nice touch is to add a soothing lotion or moisturiser onto the skin. Remove all towels and set aside for washing. Drain the dirty water and throw away soiled wipes.
Additional Tips and Suggestions
As a nice surprise or an additional treat, why not occasionally add a sense of pampering into the wash. Lighting candles or incense whilst playing relaxing music can really change the atmosphere of the bed bath.
Allow the person you are washing to lie under a towel whilst you give the bed bath. This preserves both privacy and warmth.
If the person you are washing has some ability to move, then allowing them to wash easily accessible areas such as the face can provide dignity and a sense of independence.
Hiring a carer for a few times could be a great way to learn how to properly give a bed bath as they can take you through the techniques if you are unsure.