Knowing how to properly position a patient in their bed will not only make that individual more comfortable, but it could also prevent the development of painful ulcers known as bedsores or “pressure sores”.
These uncomfortable issues are one of the main reasons why hospital staff and care providers must find a way to safely and effectively re-position bedridden patients regularly, to ensure that the body doesn’t have enough time to allow blood to pool in certain areas. The more time a patient spends lying in one position, the more likely they are to develop sores and other problematic conditions. So, how do you properly position someone who can’t move for themselves?
Ideally, the first thing you’ll need to do is find a lifting buddy. Even professional nurses should search for an additional individual who can help them to position the person in bed safely. If you have a patient positioning system, which allows you to mechanically move the patient using a system where a sheet carefully adjusts the individual’s whereabouts, then you might be able to accomplish the re-positioning yourself.
Often, patient repositioning systems can be very useful within the care and hospital environments, because they allow extremely busy staff to avoid having to seek the help of a second professional every time a patient needs to be moved. If you do not have your own positioning system, then you will need two people to use the sheet below the patient to carefully move the individual without placing too much strain or pressure on any specific joints or limbs.
Why It’s Important to Use Pillows
Once you’ve turned the bedridden patient into the correct position, the next step is keeping them in that pose for as long as necessary. This will often mean placing a pillow or foam wedge underneath the person’s back and knees. This cushioning provides additional support so that the patient doesn’t simply fall back into the original position while improving comfort at the same time.
Pillows for positioning keep the spine in proper alignment while removing unnecessary pressure around the bony areas of the body. Using a second pillow, make sure that you also prop the person’s arms up. Nurses often find that most patients laying on their side will prepare to have the arm they’re laid on propped against a pillow so that it doesn’t become compressed between the bed and the body.
If the patient needs to remain on their back, then the foot of the bed should be raised just enough to bend the knees. It’s also possible to place an additional cushion underneath the person’s knees to keep the person propped up so that he or she doesn’t begin to slide down the bed and increase their risk of painful pressure sores.
Using Comfort for Judgement
In most circumstances, successfully repositioning a bedridden patient will require nurses and caregivers to take steps to improve the individual’s comfort as much as possible. For instance, pillows are used as necessary to elevate the person’s arms and head for comfort purposes.
Unfortunately, if a patient cannot inform the care provider that he or she is comfortable, then they will need to use their own professional judgment. If something doesn’t appeal to be comfortable, then it probably isn’t, so you’ll need to make adjustments until the patient appears to be as content as possible.
Ideally, reducing bedsores will mean alternating between the right side, left side, and back every few hours while the patient is awake.