A Series of Articles on What the Amateur Nurse Should Know

Lilting the Patient - Bed-rests, and How to Arrange Them - An Improvised " Cradle " for a

Painful Limb - Making the Patient Comfortable - Blisters-leeches - Preparing for the Doctor's

Visit - Milk Diet - Low Diet - Full Diet - Useful Rules to Observe

In many illnesses patients have to be very care-fully lifted, and the art of moving an ailing person easily, without discomfort to the patient or strain to the nurse, has to be acquired. People are often surprised to see with what apparent ease quite a small, fragile woman will lift a heavy person. That is simply because the nurse knows how to take hold of the patient, where to place her hands, and how to exert her strength. When a nurse is single-handed, she must learn how to move a patient slowly and steadily from one side of the bed to the other, by getting the patient on his side, and placing one arm beneath the shoulders and the other about the level of the hips. With very little help from the patient, he can gradually be moved to a new position.

To really lift a patient requires two people. They must join hands underneath the shoulders and hips (Fig. 1). If there is any injury to the leg, for instance, a third person is required to take charge of that special part. In the case of a broken leg, one hand should be above, and one below, the seat of the fracture, and the leg must be held firmly and steadily (Fig. 2).

The easiest way to move a patient from the bed to a couch is to bring the two close together, and let one person grip the bedclothes above and below the patient, and move the patient and under-sheet on to the couch. If the patient is not very ill, and they are of equal height, he can be rolled gently from one to the other. If the patient is at all heavy, an improvised hammock will be found best for effecting the change.

Fig. I. To lift a patient properly requires two persons, who should join hands underneath the shoulders and hips

Fig. I. To lift a patient properly requires two persons, who should join hands underneath the shoulders and hips

In the case of such illnesses as rheumatic fever, also where every movement and every touch means agony, it is most important to know how to accomplish the change without needless pain. Say that the patient is lying on a sheet with the blanket beneath it. The two sides of the blanket and sheet must be pulled to meet above the patient's head, then made into a roll and twisted until it comes nearly to the patient. Then, if two people take hold of this roll with their hands at different parts, the patient can very easily be lifted in this improvised hammock without any pain or discomfort.

Another form of hammock can be made by rolling a long broom-handle in the sheet and under-blanket at each side. If one person stands at the head, and another at the foot of this hammock, the patient, even if of the heavy type, can be lifted quite easily.

Making Patients Comfortable

So many patients complain that the amateur nurse does not know how to make them comfortable, that a few hints on this subject will not be out of place.

The nurse must see that the sheets are absolutely smooth, that no crumbs, etc., are allowed to lie about the bed, and that the bed linen is clean and well-laundered. Then the pillows must be of a comfortable height, neither too low nor too high. In some illnesses the patient may require to be supported to make breathing easier and the heart less laboured. A bed-rest of some sort will be necessary; these can be bought quite cheaply, and have the advantage over the home-made variety that the angle of the bed-rest can be altered as required. In an emergency, however, an ordinary bed-room chair can be utilised. The chair should be placed at the head of the bed, upside down, so that the two front legs are leaning against the top of the bedstead, and the back and " hind " legs form a slant, or slope, which can be padded with pillows. The pillows should be tied to the chair, which also should be tied to the bedstead, as if it slips down it is extremely uncomfortable for the patient.

A patient suffering from any affection of the knees or ankles, such as rheumatic joints, gout, or fracture, must be provided with some contrivance for keeping the weight of the bedclothes off the painful part. In hospital so-called " cradles" are used for surgical cases, which consist of hoops of iron fastened below to side bars; and the limb lies inside the tunnel formed by the three hoops, the bed-clothing being kept off the leg altogether.

Improvised Cradles

Improvised cradles are quite easily obtained by the amateur nurse in the home. A three-legged stool, for example, will answer the purpose, two legs of the stool lying on one side of the limb and one on the other, the blankets being supported by the top of the stool. A band-box makes an excellent cradle also, and should be turned upside-down and a tunnel made by cutting out a hole, shaped like the entrance to a dog's kennel, at each side.

The careful nurse will see that her patient lies in a comfortable position, and where there is any threatening of bed sores she must move the patient from one side to the other regularly, and not allow him to rest on any part where a bed sore is likely to form. To prevent a patient slipping when lying on one side, pillows must be arranged at his back, which can be kept in position by putting a chair, stool, or other hard sub-stance behind them. Patients often experience discomfort because the bed-clothing is too heavy.

Who should grasp the injured limb above and below the point of fracture, is necessary and blanket into a roll above the patient's head. Two persons then hold

Fig. 2. For lifting a patient with a broken leg, a third person.