Caring for someone who needs bed rest?If the bed-resting patient is able to, they should be encouraged to get up and use the toilet. They may need assistance to walk to the bathroom, either with the carer or using a walking aid like a walker.

Some patients will find it difficult to lower themselves onto the toilet or raise themselves off it. A raised toilet seat, which can be easily attached or positioned over the existing toilet, can be very helpful in this regard.

Provide as much privacy as is safely possible. Once the person is securely on the toilet, you may be able to step outside and close the door, keeping close by until they are finished or need assistance. Make sure the toilet paper is easily accessible.

A portable commode is a good option if the person can’t walk as far as the bathroom, or for use at night.

If the person can’t get out of bed to use the bathroom, then a bedpan will be necessary. Urinals may also be useful.

Tips for using a bedpan:

• Before placing the bedpan for the person’s use, wash your hands and put on disposable gloves. Make the process more comfortable by warming the bedpan beforehand with warm water, and powdering the rim for ease in sliding the pan under the patient.
• Have the patient lie on their back, with their knees bent and hands flat on the bed. Ask them to raise their hips slightly, if they are able. Slide the bedpan under the buttocks, while holding the feet or legs so they don’t slip forwards.
• If the patient can’t lift their hips, then turn them away from you, place the bedpan against the buttocks, hold securely, and position the patient once more on their back.
• Remove the pan by raising the buttocks from the pan and sliding it out.
• Clean and dry the genitals and anal area, and wash the bedpan and your hands.

As with using the toilet, remember it is important to the patient’s dignity to provide privacy when they are using a bedpan. Close the door of the room; make sure other people present respect this and don’t wander in.

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