A Series of Articles on What the Amateur Nurse Should Know

Washing a Patient - Changing Bed-clothes - Some Simple Rules

In washing a sick person it is very important to avoid uncovering the body more than is necessary, because of the danger of chill. The teeth, it may be mentioned, should be washed always after meals. Before beginning, a warm bath-towel over a thin waterproof sheet should be placed underneath the patient. Wash the patient one part at a time. First the left arm may be slipped out of the nightdress and washed and dried. The nightdress is passed over the head, the left sleeve of a clean, well - aired night -dress is slipped in place, the right arm and chest are washed in turn, and as that nightdress is removed the fresh one is placed in position. The patient is gradually washed, first the body, and then each leg in turn, exposing as little as possible of the skin at one time. And now the bed must be changed.

Changing a patient s sheets. To ensure smoothness and avoid delay, especially with a helpless patient, two persons are required

Changing a patient s sheets. To ensure smoothness and avoid delay, especially with a helpless patient, two persons are required

If the patient is not seriously ill it may be possible to move her from the bed on to a couch which has been placed alongside, or on two or three chairs along which a pillow has been laid to form a temporary couch level with the mattress. The patient is rolled on to this, and covered with blankets or rugs whilst the bed is being laid. To change sheets with the patient in bed is quite a simple matter once the method has been properly learned.

To Change the Upper Sheet. Remove the bedspread. Place the clean, aired sheet on the top of the blankets. Get someone to hold the sheet in place on the opposite side of the bed to yourself by gripping the two corners. Slip the" blankets and the soiled top sheet from under the clean sheet, shake the blankets free of the soiled sheet, and replace them on the bed. Then spread the counterpane neatly over the top, and the patient has now got a clean top sheet.

To Change the Under Sheet. Roll the patient over to one side of the bed, remove the bolster. Roll up the soiled sheet lengthways until the roll is lying against the patient's back. Take a clean, aired sheet, and roll half of it lengthways. Lay this second roll against the soiled roll at the patient's back, and tuck it in all round. The patient is now lying on half the soiled sheet, with the other half of the soiled sheet rolled against his back. The other side of the bed is covered by the clean sheet, the remaining half of which is rolled up lengthways against the roll of the soiled sheet. The patient is now gently rolled over on to the clean half of the bed. The soiled sheet is pulled away, the clean sheet is unrolled and tucked in place, and the patient is now supplied with two clean sheets.

In surgical cases where perhaps there is a fractured limb, it is impossible to turn the patient from side to side. Under these circumstances the sheet is changed by rolling it from the top, passing the roll under the patient's shoulders, then under his waist, whilst the new sheet is being unrolled into place, lifting the legs gently, and pulling the rolls of sheet downwards towards the foot of the bed. To change the bed properly requires two people, especially if the patient cannot move without assistance.

A Draw-sheet is an extra folded sheet, reaching from below the shoulders to the knee. It is very useful in cases where the sheets have to be changed often, as it prevents the necessity of changing the under-sheet every time, the draw-sheet being more easily dealt with. It is changed in the same method as the under-sheet. The patient is turned on one side of the bed, the sheet is rolled up, the clean draw-sheet being unrolled into place, the patient is moved to the clean side of the bed,and the remainder of the draw-sheet taken away, the clean sheet being tucked in under the mattress.

In order to teach accuracy, a few simple rules will be given at the end of every article, emphasising the main points of each lesson:

1. All instructions and notes of the case are to be taken down in writing.

2. All sheets, nightdresses, etc., are to be well aired before the fire.

3. The patient is to be washed and the bed changed as quickly as possible.

4. The blankets are to be shaken, away from the patient's bed, before being replaced.

5. The mackintosh of the bed should always lie directly under the sheet. If a blanket is placed between the patient and the mackintosh, it may become saturated with perspiration, and give rise to bed-sores.

6. The sheets must be absolutely smooth and free from wrinkles. Wrinkled sheets about the bed encourage the formation of bed-sores.