30.4.2 Preventing bedsores in bedridden patients
A bedridden patient is one who is too sick to get out of bed at all, or only for short periods.
To prevent bedsores, you should do the following:
- Help the patient to sit out in a chair from time to time if possible. (We will show you how to do this later.)
- Lift the patient up off the bed slowly — do not drag the person’s body as it breaks the skin. Ask a family member to help you — two people can do this much more easily, with less discomfort for the patient. (Later we will show you how to do it if you are on your own.)
- Encourage the patient to move around in the bed as much as they are able to. If they cannot move, change their position on the bed frequently, if possible every one or two hours (Figure 30.3). Use pillows or cushions beside the patient to help them keep the new position.
- Keep the bed sheets clean and dry. Put extra soft material, such as a soft cotton towel, under the patient.
- Look for damaged skin (change of colour) on the patient’s back, shoulders and hips every day. Massage the back and hips, elbows, heels and ankles every day with petroleum jelly if available, or any other soothing cream or oil. This helps to prevent ‘bed sores’ from developing.