Protect residents and workers during bath time

October 10, 2014
safe patient transfer

Bathing is a very basic need that the average person can take for granted, but in long-term care, it is a task with which many residents need assistance. Even though bathing is more difficult, it is no less important for these individuals, who need to keep their skin clean and stay comfortable.

For the workers who help these people, fall prevention, safety and cleanliness for the residents are of the utmost priorities. However, in protecting the residents, providers may put their own well-being and musculoskeletal integrity at risk - a fact that highlights the importance of using assistive technology.

'Workload toll ... is cumulative'

One of the main issues that can make bathing particularly hazardous for both care providers and residents is mobility problems among the latter. To keep residents safe, workers often need to perform lifting and transfer tasks. Without proper ergonomics and techniques, providers may seriously injure themselves.

"Any movement that requires caregivers to bend over or use their own muscles is at risk of [causing] injury," Hans Siegvardsson, president of Handy Care, told McKnight's Long Term Care News. "The workload toll on the human body is cumulative. Lifting people over the course of the day adds up to tons."

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some nursing schools in the country were still teaching students "proper body mechanics" as a technique in patient handling despite the sizeable body of evidence suggesting such an approach is unsafe. Instead, it is essential that students learn safe patient handling techniques, which often rely on the use of medical equipment and supplies that are specially designed to lift and move individuals who have mobility issues.

Siegvardsson noted that having this equipment is not enough because workers must first know how to use them properly. This means sliding the lifting sheet underneath the resident in a way that will allow the electric transfer machine to do most of, if not all of, the work.

Several experts told McKnight's Long Term Care News that safety features that work for one resident may not work for every other resident, and that there are several possible approaches to making bath time safe for both residents and workers. For example, there are bathtubs that have side doors for easier entry and sanitary whirlpools. Additionally, fixtures such as rails, transfer benches and bath seats can also be valuable for residents with mobility issues.


AliMed, Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of medical supply products, and is not a medical authority. The contents contained in this article, including text, graphics, imagery, and other materials, are for informational and educational purposes only. AliMed does not provide or intend to provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and the information contained here should not be treated as such. If you have questions about a specific medical condition or specific personal use of a medical device, always consult your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

This blog was created with the assistance of artificial intelligence. Although every effort has been made to present information that is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, this content may contain omissions or errors. AliMed does not regularly update information or resources for this content and does not guarantee, make any warranties, and accepts no liability for the accuracy or completeness of the information presented.