Home Care Of The Sick-bathing
( Originally Published 1936 )
To give the invalid a bath in bed is rightly regarded as the apex of the nicety of nursing technique.
The home nurse regards this procedure with awe and dread. Yet all she needs to do to gain assurance is to plan a bath in bed and give one.
The whole secret of success is in planning ahead. Close the windows and put a screen in front of the door. A screen can be improvised with a clothes horse and a blanket. A table and chair should be put at the head of the bed at the right side of the patient.
Prepare a bucket of hot water and a dishpan to wring out the washcloths. The dishpan should have some hot water in it to begin with so you can rinse the washcloths. Two washclothes are needed—one for the face, one for the body. A bath towel and a face towel to spread on the bed to protect it from wetting and other towels for drying should be ready. A cake of castile soap, talcum powder and tooth paste should be on the table. Toothbrush, glass of water, and spit basin for tooth brushing, and you are ready.
After the tooth brushing, take away all pillows but one and take off the nightgown, take away all bed coverings except a sheet. Put a face towel on the pillow and spread a bath towel on the bed so that it can be moved around as you proceed from one part of the body to the other.
Wash one part of the body at a time and dry it before you go on to the next part. The simplest order is chest and abdomen in front, right arm, back, left arm, left leg, right leg, face.
Use a firm stroke in washing and drying. The incidental massage is as beneficial as the cleansing. The bath is not only a means of cleanliness. It also makes the invalid feel good. And it may prevent disagreeable skin complications such as bed sores. The skin throws poisons during illness, which dry on the surface. The bath removes this possible source of danger. And the gentle friction of the wash cloth improves the circulation and gives a general feeling of well being to the whole body.
So much for the cleansing bath. It may also be necessary to give a sponge bath for temperature—one of the most valuable procedures in treatment. The technique is the same as the cleansing bath except that no soap is used and the water should be lukewarm or cool—70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.