Making an Occupied Bed

Written by Hollie Finders, RN
Hollie Finders is a registered nurse with years of experience working in the health care field. She has degrees in both biochemistry and nursing. After working with patients of all ages, Hollie now specializes in pediatric intensive care nursing. Hollie’s LinkedIn


Equipment needed: gloves, bath blanket, set of linens, waterproof pad, disinfectant wipes, and soiled laundry bag.

  1. Perform hand hygiene.
  2. Explain the procedure to the patient and ask for his or her assistance in following directions.
  3. Place a clean set of linens within reach on a clean surface.
  4. Raise the bed to a comfortable working height. Lower the head of the bed.
  5. Raise the side rail on the side opposite of you. Lower the side rail on the side you are working.
  6. Put on gloves.
  7. Loosen the top linens at the foot of the bed. Then, cover the patient with a bath blanket and remove the top linens from under the bath blanket.
  8. Place soiled linen into the appropriate soiled laundry bag. Carry the soiled linen away from your uniform.
  9. Assist the patient in turning away from you, toward the raised side rail.
  10. Loosen the linens covering the mattress. Neatly roll these linens toward the patient and tuck them under the patient’s side as much as possible.
  11. If necessary, wipe down the mattress with a disinfectant wipe.
  12. Apply a clean set of linens and a waterproof pad to this half of the mattress. Roll the remaining linens towards the patient and tuck them underneath the roll of soiled linens. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  13. Before moving to the other side, raise the side rail. Lower the side rail on the working side.
  14. Assist the patient in turning towards the raised side rail. Tell the patient they will be rolling over a large bump.
  15. Loosen and neatly remove the soiled linens by folding the corners towards the center. Keep the soiled linens away from your body as you place them into the soiled laundry bag.
  16. If necessary, clean this half of the mattress with disinfectant wipes.
  17. Unroll the clean linen and waterproof pad from the center of the bed and fixate them into place. Smooth out any wrinkles.
  18. Assist the patient back into a supine position.
  19. Cover the patient with a new top sheet and blanket. Remove the bath blanket from underneath the new sheet. Place the bath blanket into the soiled laundry bag.
  20. At the head of the bed, fold the top sheet down to cover the edge of the blanket.
  21. At the foot of the bed, tuck the bottom edge of the top sheet and blanket under the foot of the mattress and make hospital corners on each side.
  22. Gently remove the pillow from underneath the patient’s head. Remove the soiled pillowcase. With clean gloves, apply a clean pillowcase and replace the pillow under the patient’s head.
  23. Assist the patient into a comfortable position, lower the bed, and return the side rails to their original position.
  24. Remove gloves and perform hand hygiene.
  25. Document the procedure in the patient’s chart and report any changes in the patient’s condition to the nurse.

Important Information About Making an Occupied Bed

If a patient is bedridden or on bedrest, the bed linens will need to be changed while the patient is in the bed. For safety reasons, the nurse’s aid should avoid making an occupied bed if the patient is able to get out of bed. Bed linens should be changed according to the facility’s policy or anytime they are wet or soiled. Linens that are moist or soiled accelerate the development of skin issues and increase the risk for developing yeast infections [1].