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Should You Bathe Your Patients?

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, November 13th, 2009

bathBecause nurses are so busy doing high-tech care, sometimes we delegate the bathing of patients to nursing assistants. (what would we do without them?!) Yet, by doing so we are missing important opportunities to assess our patients.

Helping patients with personal hygiene lets nurses use all their assessment, observational and communication skills. We discover how well the patient can coordinate their actions, mentally process what they are told, and how they express themselves. It is a great opportunity to assess patient’s skin integrity and physical state. It is also the best way to learn the early signs of clinical problems.

Equally important. bathing people shows them we have time for them. It helps build trust and the nurse-patient therapeutic relationship as much as medicines or other clinical interventions. Helping a patient bathe is one of the most fundamental and crucial skills available to nurses, regardless of initials behind their names.

When, as a nurse motivational speaker, I help hospitals recruit and retain their nurses, I often hear from staff that they are so busy doing technical care, they miss doing the personal care. To retain nurses, we need to allow them to incorporate high touch with high tech.

For more ways to retain nurses contact me . I have lots of great strategies!

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