How to Make a Bed with Someone in It

Learn how to remake an occupied bed with helpful hints to make the job safer and more manageable.

Family caregivers are faced with many challenges, as the family member may be physically or mentally ill to the point that he is bedfast. Many home caregivers must change an occupied bed on a regular basis. These bed-making tips from may help.

Safety First

This article is geared toward caring for someone who does not have special movement needs and can safely be moved from side to side. People with certain conditions or injuries may need to be moved differently, so it is always wise to check with his healthcare provider before attempting to change bed linens while the person remains in bed.

Infection Control

Use appropriate personal protective equipment, like disposable nonsterile gloves, if you suspect that your hands might come into contact with body fluids or if the person has a known infection, such as MRSA, that may require special protection.

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Special Equipment

  • A mechanical lift decreases the likelihood of injury to the caregiver.
  • A bed with side rails can help prevent the person from falling out of the bed and can assist the person in rolling from side to side.
  • Check with your healthcare provider and health insurance company regarding special equipment needs and discounts.

Avoid Injuries

  • Do not place undue strain on any attached tubing, like an indwelling urinary catheter or intravenous line.
  • You may need the help of other people to ensure safety for yourself and your loved one.
  • Tell him what you are going to do and encourage him to be as independent as possible. For example, if he can roll side to side by himself, allowing him to do so will encourage exercise while making it easier for you physically. This can also help his psychological health.
  • If you need to assist the person with movements, use good body mechanics. A turning sheet is helpful in preventing shearing of the skin and aids in comfort for the person in bed. Another clean turning sheet would be placed on top of the fitted sheet.
  • You may wish to practice with a willing family member or friend first in order to feel more comfortable in changing an occupied bed.

Collect Supplies

Additional supplies may be needed. Here are some basic supplies to place on a clean chair or table by the bed with the linens at the bottom of the list on the bottom of the stack:

  • Extra blanket for covering the person
  • Fitted sheet
  • Bed pad(s), if needed for incontinence
  • Flat sheet
  • Bedspread
  • Blanket
  • Pillowcase(s)
  • Bag or basket for dirty linens

Steps for Changing an Occupied Bed

  • Cover her with the extra blanket for warmth and privacy.
  • Remove the top linens and place in the bag.
  • Lower the head of the bed (if applicable).
  • Ensure that she is lying on her back (supine).
  • Move her toward you while she remains supine.
  • Assist her to roll until she is facing the opposite side of the bed.
  • Loosen the bottom linens that are behind her and roll them until the roll is just behind her back.
  • Place the corners of the clean fitted sheet on the uncovered corners.

    If using a bed pad, place it on top of the fitted sheet. If the width of the pad is approximately the same as the width of the bed, place the edge of the pad even with the edge of the bed. If using more than one pad, place the one closer to the head of the bed on top to help prevent leaking between pads.

  • Roll the remaining portion of the fitted sheet and pad(s) until the roll reaches the first roll behind her back.
  • Assist her to roll over the linens and face the other side of the bed.
  • Remove the soiled linens and place them in the bag.
  • Unroll the clean fitted sheet and pad.
  • Tuck the corners and smooth any wrinkles.
  • Assist her to roll back to the centre of the bed.
  • Place the flat sheet, bedspread, and blanket on top while removing the extra blanket
  • Loosely tuck top linens if desired.
  • Raise the head of the bed (if applicable).
  • Change the pillow case(s).
  • Remove the dirty linen bag.

Making an occupied bed can seem intimidating at first, but the information above should help you to safely and efficiently change linens while your loved one remains in bed.