Using the toilet is one of the most stressful and potentially embarrassing aspects of being bedridden, both for the patient and their caregiver. It is a task everyone who cares for a bedridden patient faces, and the patient’s health, psychological well-being, and dignity depend on how it is handled.
Every bedridden patient is different, and the right toilet routine depends on their condition and capabilities. In this article, we’re going to look at techniques and equipment to help you or someone you care for to use the toilet safely and with dignity.
Helping Bedridden Patients to the Bathroom
If possible, a bedridden patient should be supported to use the bathroom rather than to go to the toilet while on their bed. Many bedridden people prefer to go to the bathroom, even if they find it challenging to move. It gives them a degree of independence and privacy that is hard to achieve otherwise.
A bedridden patient may need help to get out of bed, walk to the bathroom, and use the toilet once there. They may also need help to clean up after using the toilet. Equipment that can help with the process includes:
- A gait belt is a fabric belt or harness that helps caregivers to steady and support patients while they stand from their beds.
- If the patient needs a wheelchair to move to the bathroom, a transfer board or Hoyer lift can help to transfer them from the bed to their wheelchair, as we discuss in How to Transfer a Patient From a Wheelchair to a Home Hospital Bed and Back Again.
- A height-adjustable bed, also known as a hi-low bed, makes it easier for patients to stand up independently or with a caregiver’s help.
- You should ensure that toilet paper, dry wipes, and wet wipes are available in the bathroom.
- Bedridden patients may also benefit from grab rails to help them position and support themselves while using the toilet.
Be sure to remove any clutter on the way to and inside the bathroom to limit the risk of tripping.
Useful Toilet Equipment for Bedridden Patients
If you or someone you care for cannot move to the bathroom, they will have to go to the toilet on or near their bed. There are several options, depending on the patient’s condition and mobility.
- Bedside or Portable Commodes: If a bedridden patient is mobile enough to get out of bed with help, a portable commode may be the best option. Bedside commodes typically look like chairs with a toilet seat and a space for a removable waste receptacle. They are more comfortable and more dignified than a bedpan.
- Bedpans: Bedpans are the most widely used receptacle for urination and defecation. Modern bedpans are designed to be ergonomic and comfortable to use with patients who have limited mobility. They are available in both metal and plastic. If you use a bedpan, you may also want to consider absorbent bedpan liners or bedpan bags, which make it easier to keep the bedpan clean and dispose of the contents.
- Fracture bedpans: low-profile bedpans with a flattened end. They are designed for people who cannot lift their hips or roll over sufficiently to place a standard bedpan. They are often used by patients who are recovering from broken hips.
- Incontinence Pads and Adult Diapers: Incontinence pads are typically used by patients who are both bedridden and incontinent. They are absorbent and help to protect the wearer’s skin, although you should regularly check an incontinent patient to ensure they are not wet or in discomfort.
- Catheters: Catheters, which must be fitted by a qualified medical professional, are tubes inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. Catheters are not the best option for long-term use because they risk infection, but may be used for patients who cannot use a bedpan or incontinence pads.
Bedridden patients who use bedpans or incontinence pads, or who have trouble controlling when they defecate and urinate, may wet or soil their bedding and the underlying mattress. Our Supernal Sleep System home hospital bed mattresses are available with a waterproof stretch fabric cover to keep mattresses clean, dry, and hygienic.
Contact a home hospital bed expert today to learn more about how Transfer Master adjustable beds and mattresses support the comfort, safety, and effective treatment of people with conditions that leave them bedridden.
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