Helping Someone Use A Bedpan Or A Urinal

What are bedpans and urinals?

Bedpans and urinals are devices that allow a person in bed to urinate or have a bowel movement (BM). A man uses a bedpan for having a BM but usually prefers to use a urinal to urinate. Women usually use a bedpan for having BMs and urinating, but there are also urinals made for women.

Why do I need to use a bedpan or urinal?

You may need to use a bedpan or urinal because you cannot walk to the bathroom. Illness, injury or surgery are some reasons you may not be able to walk. It is important that you urinate and have BMs regularly while you must stay in bed. This will help prevent other health problems. Frequently there is little time between the urge (feeling like you need to urinate) and voiding (urinating). The caregiver must be quick to respond to the toileting needs of the person in bed.

What kinds of bedpans and urinals are there?

There are several different kinds of bedpans and urinals available. Some are metal and others are hard plastic. There are bedpans for people who cannot raise their hips. This may include people with hip fractures or in body casts. Some urinals are made for men and others are made for women. Some are reusable and others are thrown away after use. The reusable ones are used by the same person, but need to be washed and disinfected (germ-free) after each use. This can be done using soap and water and then a liquid such as bleach to kill germs. You can buy bedpans and urinals at medical supply and drug stores. When you leave the hospital, you may take home the ones you used while there.

How is a bedpan used?

To help a person with the bedpan put the following items within easy reach:

  • A basin with warm water.

  • Disposable gloves.

  • Toilet paper.

  • Towels.

  • Wash cloths.

What should I do before helping the person?

  • Run warm water over the bedpan and dry it. A metal bedpan retains heat, so check to make sure it is not too hot before putting it under the person.

  • Sprinkle baby powder on the edge of the bedpan to make it easier to slide under the person.

  • Put on disposable gloves.

How do I help a person who can raise his buttocks (rear end) use a bedpan?

  • Put a waterproof pad under the buttocks of the person to protect the bed from spills.

  • Raise the head of the bed a little if allowed by the caregiver.

  • Support the lower back of the person with one hand. With your other hand place the curved edge of the pan under the buttocks of the person.

  • Raise the head of the bed a little more so the person is in a sitting position. This position makes it easier to have a BM or urinate.

  • Give the person privacy if possible. If the person is weak do not leave him alone.

  • When the person is done, lower the head of the bed. Ask the person to raise his buttocks. Support the lower back of the person with one hand. Carefully remove the bedpan with your other hand. Cover the bedpan with a towel and put it on a chair. Do not put it on the side stand or bed table.

How do I help a person who cannot raise his buttocks to use a bedpan?

  • Roll the person on his side. Put a waterproof pad under the buttocks of the person to protect the bed from spills.

  • Place the bedpan against the buttocks of the person with one hand.

  • While holding the bedpan in place, gently roll the person onto his back and up onto the bedpan.

  • Raise the head of the bed a little if allowed by the caregiver. If the person is in a sitting position it may be easier for him to have a BM or urinate.

  • Give the person privacy if possible, but if he is weak, do not leave him alone.

  • When the person is done, lower the head of the bed.

  • Roll the person on his side just enough to carefully remove the bedpan.

  • Cover the bedpan with a towel and put it on a chair. Do not put it on the side stand or bed table.

How do I clean the person after using the bedpan?

  • Gently roll the person on his side.

  • Clean the buttocks of the person with toilet paper first.

  • Next, use a wet washcloth to clean the area. If necessary, use soap and water to clean the area well. If the person is a female be sure to clean from front to back.

  • Dry the area between the legs of the person.

  • Check the skin for redness or sores. Tell the caregiver if you see any redness or sores. Use medicine on the sores if caregivers tell you to.

What should be done when placing the urinal?

The following steps may help when placing a urinal for a male or a female:

  • Ask the person to put the urinal between the legs.

  • Put on disposable gloves and spread the legs of the person if he cannot do it.

  • If the person is male and he cannot do it, put his penis in the opening at the top of the urinal.

  • Position the urinal and hold it gently while the person urinates.

  • When the person is done, carefully remove the urinal.

  • Gently wipe between the legs with a damp washcloth. If the person is a female be sure to clean from front to back.

  • Dry the area between the legs of the person.

What other cleaning needs to be done?

  • Give the person a damp washcloth to clean his hands when finished with the bedpan or urinal.

  • Take the bedpan or urinal to the bathroom and empty it into the toilet.

  • Clean the bedpan or urinal with soap and water, and a toilet brush.

  • Clean the bedpan or urinal as needed with a disinfectant soap or cleaning solution. Ask caregivers to help you choose the cleaner.

  • Use an air freshener if needed.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your illness, injury, and using a bedpan or urinal. You can then discuss your treatment and care options with your caregiver. You always have the right to refuse treatment.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

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