by Linda J. Austin


We all know how to do this - some of us still make hospital corners. Those of us with military backgrounds can make a bed tight enough to bounce a quarter on - but the usefulness of this escapes me. I remember teaching my boys to make their beds. Sheets hung out from under bedspreads like drooping petticoats and nothing would bounce on them except little feet.


One thing I never taught them was how to change a bed with a person in it. It's a useful skill to acquire, although I doubt a child would see the usefulness. As caregivers this is a skill we need to learn and the best way to learn is with a partner - a sack of potatoes will not do, neither will the family dog. A husband-wife team works well as do friends and neighbors. Knowledge is strength we can rely on when we need it. Even if the person in the bed outweighs you, you can still change the bed with the person in it.

Let's talk about bedding. Rough feeling sheets can lead to skin break down, so use a fabric softener (unscented). You might also consider using cotton flannel or tee shirt sheets. (Tee sheets are available year round - flannel sheets are seasonal.) A flat flannel sheet can also serve as a lightweight blanket. Anything scratchy (such as lace ruffles) should not be used. Comfort is the keyword. The patient's bed will require one additional sheet - a flat twin sheet folded in half lengthwise (called a draw sheet). A draw sheet is used to reposition a patient.

Plastic covers will protect the mattress, but they will also make the patient sweat. Consider using disposable or washable absorbent pads instead. Both of these can be purchased in drug stores, department stores and ordered through specialty catalogs. Your nursing service may be aware of a good source in your area so be sure to check with them.

Pillows - lots of them, all shapes and sizes - preferably washable. Make sure the patient has their favorite pillow - even if it isn't washable. Yes, there are plastic covers - allergy covers - but they are noisy and who wants a pillow that crunches like a mouth full of cereal? A pillow laced behind the patient's back (when the patient is lying on their side) will keep the patient from rolling over. A pillow between the knees/ankles keeps bone from rubbing against bone - it also relieves tension in the low back.

Blankets - bedspreads - comforters: soft, warm, not heavy - unless the patient is used to heavy blankets, etc. and wants them. When I was taking care of my mom, I bought a very lightweight blue blanket and used it as the top sheet - she liked the softness next to her skin. Don't be afraid to try different things. And when you buy something new - wash it before using it.


© Dan Hurley Home for Funerals and Cremation Centers | St. Thomas, St. John, & St. Croix, VI - Funeral Home Website Design By Frazer Consultants & TA

Privacy Policy & Terms of Use | Accessibility