Encouraging personal hygiene in residents, and bathing critically ill patients are important duties of nursing assistants. Bathing patients in intensive care unit is especially important as the patients are at a greater risk for infection if harmful microorganisms are not removed from the body. Bathing also relaxes the muscles and tissues, improves blood circulation and makes the residents feel good.
When bathing patients, the nursing assistants have to follow these guidelines:
Ensure safety: There is a possibility of various accidents during bathing, so the nursing assistants should ensure the safety of the environment. For instance, wet and slippery floors are likely to cause falls. Such accidents can be avoided by providing assistive devices to the patients such as walkers. Notice for any signs of weakness, dizziness that can cause falls. Use lukewarm water and a mild soap, when bathing the elderly patients.
Other than accidents, there may be scratches or skin breaks that need to be prevented when bathing residents. Skin breaks can become an entry point for disease-causing microorganisms. Drying the body parts with a towel is also important as microorganisms thrive in wet and warm areas such as armpits and buttocks.
Ensure privacy: Ensure that curtains are used when undressing and bathing the patient.
Note any skin conditions: Redness or blisters on the patient’s skin should immediately be reported to the supervisor so that the patient receives prompt treatment. Some patients with disabilities may have bed sores or pressure sores that occur when the patient is confined to the bed for a long time. Bed sores are likely to be found in elderly patients on areas such as the hips, elbows, spine or shoulders.
As bed sores are painful and do not heal easily, it is important to treat them properly and in time. The best approach is to ensure that the patients do not develop bed sores. For that purpose, the nursing assistants can take the following actions:
- Turn the patients at regular intervals, so pressure is not prolonged on one particular bony area
- Re-position patients to make them comfortable
- Use protective devices such as pressure relief cushions
- Provide proper diet