How to Help the Patient to Use the Bedpan

Patients who are incapable of standing or walking need to use a bedpan. They cannot handle it on their own, so a certified nursing assistant needs to help him in using the bedpan. A proper assistance from your side can prevent situations of embarrassment for the patient and avoid messy results. First of all, wash your hands in the way demonstrated in our discussion on the hand washing skill. This will stop the germs from spreading. Next, politely wish the patient and explain him that you will be helping him in using the bedpan. You must make sure the patient gets all the privacy that he needs. Put on your pair of gloves and help him lie down on his back with him facing up (called supine position). Then, assist him in getting on one of his sides while lying down.

Guidelines on How to Help a  Patient to Use the Bedpan

  • Position the bedpan right against the buttocks of the patient after he turns on one of his sides. Then, get him back in the supine position. Tell him to move his legs apart in order to check if the bedpan has been placed properly. Make him more comfortable by moving the bed (the head side) a little upper. Move away from him to give all the privacy he needs. Dispose the gloves after you remove them. Wash your hands in the way we demonstrated in the Hand Washing skill description. Make sure that you wash hands thoroughly because you may have come in direct contact with the stool or urine of the patient
  • After the patient is done with the work, wash your hands and put on the gloves again.
  • Adjust the raised portion of the back and bring it back to its original position. Help the patient to turn to one of his sides, but you need to do this with attentiveness because a little distraction can spill the contents of the bedpan. Support the bedpan when the patient is turning. In case the contents spill, you will be required to change the bed linens at that very moment
  • Keep the bedpan away from the patient after you remove it from below him. Clean the buttocks and genitals of the patient properly because this fill keep him safe from infections. Get him in a comfortable position on the bed and if he wants to wash his hands, provide him a clean wet cloth or towel
  • Measure and record the output of the patient properly. After doing this, dispose the contents as directed. Replace the used bedpan or get it cleaned so that it could be used again
  • Dispose the used gloves after you remove them. Wash your hands in the way we demonstrated in the Hand Washing skill description. Make sure that you wash hands thoroughly because you may have come in direct contact with the stool or urine of the patient

You must use the bedpan properly. Even a small mistake may lead to a messy result. Remember to give some privacy to the patient so that the entire procedure becomes easier and more comfortable for him. Always make sure that you was your hands properly after the process is over.

A Few More Tips from Expert CNAs for you


Expert CNAs say that the demonstration of this skill is one of the toughest things you may have to do in the CNA skill test. Though using a bedpan is quiet easy, but the student may feel a little awkward or shy in performing it. Also, when you know that a certain person is keeping a close watch on ever thing that you are doing, the situation becomes a little scary. To ease things, just try to imagine how your patients would feel when you help them out in their bowel activities.

In case you are assisting an aged person, you must make sure that you not rub the surface of the bedpan against his skin because this may result in severe rashes (due to their fragile skin). While demonstrating this skill in the CNA examination, you should make the evaluator see that you can be gentle and firm at the same time.

You need to remove the bedpan with a lot of care because even a little spilling will create a lot of mess. However, in case the contents spill, you will be required to change the bed linens at that very instant. A proper assistance from your side can prevent situations of embarrassment for the patient and avoid messy results.

When you start working as a CNA in a nursing facility, there will be situations in which the patient may refuse to use the bedpan. In such cases, keep your calm and consider the fact that the patient was once self-sufficient for such tasks. You should always keep their dignity in mind. If you can manage to assist the patient to the bathroom or help him to get to the bedside toilet, do it. Some of the CNAs force patients to use the bedpan even if they can walk them to the bathroom, just for their own convenience. This is very wrong and is completely against the ethics.

Video Demonstration

Here’s a video that demonstrates the perfect way to help the patient to use the bedpan during the skill demonstration. Have a look:

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