How to Make a Bed When the Patient Cannot Get Up


In these circumstances it is especially important that two people make the bed together. See that the room is warm and tell the patient what you are going to do before you start. Prepare a linen bag or bucket for any soiled linen. Put two chairs back to back at the foot of the bed.

  • Loosen the bedclothes all around the mattress. Remove the counterpane by folding it in three and place it on the chairs. Remove all except one blanket in the same way. Slide out the top sheet, leaving the patient covered with the blanket, fold it into three and put it on the chairs. Remove all but one pillow, and place on the chairs.
  • Roll the patient to one side of the bed. Support her while your helper brushes out any crumbs, untucks the bottom layers of bedding and rolls them up to the patient’s back. Your helper then straightens each layer in turn, pulling the underblanket and bottom sheet taut and tucking them in again.
  • Roll the patient gently to the other side of the bed. Your helper now supports her while you repeat the process.
  • Sit the patient forward and replace the pillows. Unfold the top sheet over the blanket, then slide the blanket out from under­neath, fold it and place on the chairs. Tuck in the sheet allowing 45cm turnover at the top. Replace the blankets one by one, tucking them in along the sides and more loosely at the foot of the bed. Replace the counterpane and turn down the sheet.

    Changing the bottom sheet

    Roll the clean sheet lengthwise and place it on the chairs. With the patient rolled to one side of the bed and supported, your helper straightens the underblanket and plastic sheet as before, but leaves the soiled sheet rolled up close to the patient’s back. She places the new sheet on the bed and tucks it in, then unrolls it to meet the soiled sheet. Roll the patient over both sheets and remove the soiled sheet. Straighten the underblanket and tuck in the new sheet.

    Making mitred corners

    Pick up the edge of the sheet about 45cm from the top or bottom of the bed and pull it up. Make a triangle flat on the bed. Tuck in the edge that hangs down. Bring the triangular fold of sheet down over the top and let it hang. Pull it taut. Tuck it in.

    Bedmaking when the patient cannot lie flat

    If the patient cannot get up for bedmaking but cannot lie flat either – probably because she is breathless – remove the bedclothes but do not remove any pillows. Two of you should then lift the patient halfway down the bed. Your helper supports her while you make the top half of the bed. Remove the pillows and backrest, remove the drawsheet and place them on the chair. Brush out any crumbs. Roll the layers of bedclothes down to the patient’s back, and straighten and tuck in the underblanket. Roll the sheet back and tuck in around the top half of the bed on your side. Support the patient while your helper does his side. Replace the drawsheet if used. Replace the backrest and pillows and lift the patient back up the bed. Repeat the process at the foot of the bed. Replace the top sheet and blankets as before.

    When changing the bottom sheet, roll the clean sheet up from its shorter edge. Follow the normal procedure, but this time working from the top downwards.

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    About the Author: Andrew Reinert is a health care professional who loves to share different tips on health and personal care. He is a regular contributor to MegaHowTo and lives in Canada.

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