Repositioning bedridden patients is one of the most important parts of offering comprehensive care to someone who might not be able to move fully by themselves. If a person is allowed to stay within the same position for too long when they’re in bed, there’s a good chance that muscles will begin to atrophy, hygiene will suffer, and of course, pressure ulcers may also begin to form.
Turning the patient at least once every two hours if he or she is unable to move is key to their comfort and ongoing healing process. This prevents breathing problems, blood clots, and pressure sores, while also boosting the individual’s comfort and wellbeing levels too.
The Safety Guidelines
Of course, before any nurse or caregiver can begin to reposition a patient in bed, they’ll need to make sure that they fully understand how to use the correct safety precautions. This is particularly important in circumstances where the nurse or care provider doesn’t have an automated or electronic system that they can use to make turning patients easier. If possible, it’s a good idea to flatten the head of the bed before turning the person. These tips can also help to keep the person safe during repositioning:
- Double-check medical equipment: It may be necessary to move medicine pumps, tubes, and monitors out of the way during turning. Make sure that nothing important will break or come loose when you’re moving the individual, and do not remove any equipment unless you are asked to.
- Move the person slowly and smoothly: Try to avoid moving a patient with quick or sudden movements, as this is more likely to cause injury and pain. You could also potentially tear a person’s skin if a movement is too forceful or quick.
- Ask for help when necessary: If you don’t have a motorized system available to help you reposition the patient, then you may need to ask for help from another nurse or care provider to ensure that you can move the patient safely.
- Use the right form: It’s important to protect the lower back when you’re turning a patient in bed. Make sure your feet are a little wider apart than your shoulder width. Stand close to the person, and make sure you don’t have to reach too far during turning.
Knowing the Right Turning Method
Whether you need to manually reposition a patient, or you can do it with the help of a professional system, it’s important to make sure that you’re using the correct techniques. Begin by crossing the patient’s arms over their chest, as this will prevent the limbs from getting trapped under the body during the turn.
Once you’re ready, stand at the side of the bed, and lower the bed rail. Place a pillow between the patient’s knees, and roll the edge of your sheet on your side, pulling the sheet up so that the individual rolls slowly from their back onto their side. Once they’re in the correct position, you’ll be able to place foam wedges or pillows behind the person’s spine to make sure that they don’t fall backward into the wrong position.
Smooth out the sheets so that they don’t wrinkle, and pull the bed rail back up so that it’s locked safely in place. Make sure that before you leave, you check to ensure that the patient is breathing easily and appears to be comfortable. They should not be in a position that cuts off any circulation to their limbs or reduces their comfort in any way. This may mean that you need to add extra pillows or adjust the existing cushioning.