Empowering Caregivers: Hospice’s Guide to Caring for Loved Ones

by Heather Renfrow, CNA

Life is a beautiful thing but at times can be difficult to understand, especially when affecting our ability to care for ourselves. When families go through tough times, Hospice of the Red River Valley steps in, helping take some weight off their shoulders. We educate families and caregivers on how to make caring for their loved ones easier. Some of these life skills we help with include, transferring in and out of bed, bathing and using the bathroom.

Moving a loved one can be a nerve-wracking experience for both the person moving and their loved ones. A lot of patients I’ve had the pleasure of assisting have been afraid of falling due to a past event or feeling too weak. It is important to remain positive and thoroughly explain before assisting with any care. Talking things over can calm nerves and help emphasize the prioritization of safety and patience. For instance, moving a patient from a bed to a wheelchair may seem difficult. However, once the steps shown below are practiced, it becomes easier. Below are tips to help someone move from a bed to a wheelchair:

  • Ensure the bed is flat and low enough for the patient to put their feet on the ground.
  • Have the wheelchair close to the bed and locked in place.
  • Help move the patient’s feet to the side of the bed.
  • Sit up the patient by putting your hands on their shoulders or the upper part of their back.
  • Once on the edge of the bed, help the patient stand by lifting from their side until standing up.
  • Slowly pivot to the wheelchair and softly lower them into the seat.
  • Always use proper body mechanics and communication to prevent injuries.

In my experience as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), I have dealt with a lot of patients who are bed-bound and cannot transfer. Many have concerns about how they will do a specific task like bathing. In this instance of care, we educate families and caregivers on how to do a bed bath. Supplies needed include a basin for water, a couple of washcloths and towels, body wash or soap, shampoo, and any other amenities of interest like deodorant or lotion. The steps for a bed bath are as follows:

  • Fill a basin with warm water.
  • Place a towel underneath the head of the patient.
  • Use a washcloth to wash the patient’s face first.
  • Dampen the washcloth or fill to squeeze or pour water over the patient’s scalp.
  • Wash hair and rinse with a washcloth or cup.
  • Wash each body part with a towel placed underneath.
  • Rinse off soap residue and dry.
  • Help assist the patient with dressing, turning from side to side when needed.

These steps may sound challenging, but once Hospice of the Red River Valley CNAs assist and show how it’s done, it’ll become easier, and you’ll be glad you took the time to learn. Hygiene is essential for staying healthy, especially for those who cannot get out of bed or do things for themselves.

Honoring one’s dignity is at the heart of the care we provide so helping with personal care is so important. A part of hygiene patients commonly need help with is going to the bathroom. As a CNA, I help patients walk to the bathroom, use a commode, or even assist with a bedpan or urinal. Hospice of the Red River Valley also supplies their patients with items they may need such as wipes, briefs and creams, which are all included as part of the hospice insurance benefit.

Although unexpected situations happen, Hospice of the Red River Valley tries to make things less stressful. Anytime a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness or disease and things seem to be a little too much, don’t be afraid to contact us. I can’t tell you how often I hear from families that they wish they would have reached out sooner. With help from Hospice of the Red River Valley, help comes in many forms and includes great educational tools to assist in your everyday lives. My work as a CNA is a great honor as I help ensure our patients and loved ones can live their best. Every Moment Matters.

For additional resources on caring for your loved one visit hrrv.org/resources.


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