Using the toilet

Helping the patient with elimination is one of the most challenging aspects for both the patient and the caregiver. It is critical to respect the patient's dignity at all times.

The manual, Caring for the Sick, Nursing the Ill, the Disabled, Children, and the Elderly states that “helping the patient with elimination is one of the most testing aspects” for the caregiver. Patients often find this part of the care difficult and embarrassing and it is important to maintain the patient’s dignity by making them feel as comfortable as possible.

If patient is unable to get to the lavatory, he/she may need to use a commode or bedpan. Other aids in the lavatory may include a raised seat to help patients who can’t lower themselves or a hand-rail to help patients getting up from the lavatory seat.

Using a commode
(Extract from Caring for the Sick,Nursing the Ill, the Disabled, Children, and the Elderly)

  • Make sure the bedroom door is closed before helping the patient out of bed.

  • Put his/her slippers on and place a dressing gown round his/her shoulders.

  • You may need to help patient to move clothes out of the way before carefully seating the patient.

  • Cover his/her legs with a blanket.

  • Ensure that there is toilet roll within easy reach and leave the patient in peace – unless he/she needs your assistance.

  • Afterwards, ensure the patient washes his/her hands, help him/her back into bed.

  • Cover the pan and empty it down the lavatory, rinse in cold water and replace.

  • Wash your hands.

  • Eliminate smells with air freshener and return the room to normal as quickly as possible.

Caring for the sick, Nursing the ill, the disabled, children and the elderly, The Authorised Manual of St. John Ambulance, St. Andrew’s Ambulance Association, The British Red Cross Society, 2nd ed. (1988) Dorling Kindersley Ltd.

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