Not all patients will need help feeding themselves. Some patients will only need assistance opening cartons or cutting their food. To promote independence, always let the patient do as much as he or she can before assisting. It is vitally important that the nurse’s aide verifies that the patient receives the correct meal tray. Patients may have special diets that play a critical role in their health (i.e., pureed diet, gluten-free diet, food allergies, etc.). Feeding the wrong food to the wrong patient could result in serious complications.
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Range of motion exercises are used to help prevent or decrease contractures, improve flexibility of joints, and improve strength . Bedridden patients as well as those with reduced mobility may greatly benefit from passive range of motion exercises. However, do not perform these exercises without an order to do so, as it may be contraindicated in certain situations.
Residents who have had a portion of their intestines removed due to illness or trauma may have a temporary or permanent ostomy, which is an opening in the abdomen that is created for the elimination of urine or feces. The portion of the intestine that is connected to the abdominal wall and is visible is called the stoma. A pouch is placed over the stoma to collect feces.
When a resident is bed-bound, they must use a bedpan to urinate and defecate. This can be embarrassing for the resident, so it should be done with sensitivity to the resident’s privacy and dignity. There are two types of bedpans. A regular bedpan is the deeper and more rounded of the two. A fracture pan has a relatively flat upper end with a trough at the lower end. Fracture pans are used for residents who have difficulty, or restrictions against, moving their hips and/or backs.
Having the resident sit on the side of the bed is otherwise referred to as dangling. When a resident quickly changes position, especially from lying to sitting or standing, there can be a rapid drop in the resident’s blood pressure. This drop in blood pressure may cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
It is important to remember on which side to place the chair when assisting a patient in transferring. Putting the chair on the resident’s unaffected side allows the resident to lead with his or her strong extremity. This eases the procedure for the resident and reduces the risk of falling.
A mechanical lift is used to transfer residents who cannot support their own weight. When used properly, mechanical lifts prevent injuries for both residents and health care workers. It is important that a nurse’s assistant be trained to use the mechanical lift before attempting to operate it. Most facilities require at least two health care workers to assist when using a mechanical lift.
Patients with respiratory illnesses such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) find ways to help themselves breathe more easily. This can include sleeping with extra pillows to keep them propped up or leaning forward to ease the work of breathing. The orthopneic position is one forward-leaning position used to help patients breathe comfortably when they are having difficulty.
Fowler’s position is used when a patient is eating, is having difficulty breathing, or is ordered by a doctor. This position is easily recognized because the patient will be sitting “straight up.” Semi-Fowlers is sitting “half-way up,” and is used when patients cannot be laid flat, but wishes to be in a more relaxed position than Fowler’s.
The lateral, or side-lying, position is often comfortable for patients when they wish to sleep or relax.