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Caregiver Training Blog

How to Change a Bed with Someone In It

Topics: Caregiver Info

Patient careWhile we often talk about the work of caregivers in terms of its emotional challenges, there are plenty of physical challenges, too. One task many caregivers struggle with when it comes to patient care is changing the sheets on an occupied bed. Let's take a closer look at nine steps involved in changing a bed while a patient is still in it.


1. Find a Partner, If Possible

While it's possible to change an occupied bed on your own, the task is significantly easier when done by two people.

2. Wash Your Hands and Don Gloves

For your safety and the safety of the patient, thoroughly wash your hands before beginning the process of changing the bed linens. Gloves add a second level of protection.

3. Greet the Patient and Explain the Process

The act of changing an occupied bed can be awkward for both the caregiver and the bedridden individual. In order to mitigate discomfort, take time to greet the patient, introduce yourself if necessary, and explain your intentions.

4. Secure the Patient

Gently help the patient roll onto his/her side in order to ensure that he/she doesn't roll off the bed. (If he/she can help in this process and/or hold onto the bed rail, the job will be both quicker and easier.)

5. Prepare the Sheets

Beginning at the opposite side of the bed, remove the tucked-in side of the sheet and roll it in the direction of the patient. Next, take a clean sheet and roll it toward the patient while he/she remains in the side-lying position. Then, help the patient roll onto his/her other side toward the clean sheet.

6. Swap Out the Soiled Sheet for the Clean Sheet

With the patient remaining on his/her side, remove the old sheet while pulling in the new one. (Four hands make this task much more manageable than two.) Pull the sheet taut to ensure that it's free of wrinkles, then secure by tucking in the edges using hospital corners.

7. Change the Pillowcase

Gently slide the pillow from the bed using your hand to help lower the patient's head to the mattress. Remove the cover and replace with a clean pillowcase. Taking the same care, return the pillow underneath the patient's head or back.

8. Check in With the Patient

Confirm with the patient that he/she is comfortable before covering him/her with a clean flat sheet and blanket.

9. Remove Gloves and Wash Your Hands

Remove and dispose of your gloves, then repeat the handwashing process.

While changing the sheets of an occupied bed is not an easy job, it's a necessary one -- both in terms of promoting the patient's comfort as well as for infection control. Watch the process in this short video. By following these steps every time you change the sheets, you're not only promoting good hygiene, but also helping improve the quality of life of a bed-ridden patient. Even better news? The more you perform this task, the easier it becomes.


Patient care

Caregivers can help bed-ridden patients feel secure by offering both physical and emotional support.

If you're looking for a comprehensive resource for family caregivers, check out our online Family Caregiver Guide.

mmLearn.org offers a large library of free videos for caregivers of older adults, covering topics pertaining to senior care. Whether you are a healthcare professional or a family caregiver, if you are caring for an older adult we know that you will find mmLearn.org an essential learning and guidance tool for all of your caregiver training needs. For more useful training for caregivers, access our free database of online caregiver videos today.

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