Home Nursing—making The Invalid’s Bed

The invalid’s whole universe is his bed. The member of the house-hold who undertakes to be the official home nurse must learn to make it comfortable, safe and helpful.

The position in which the bed should be placed is worth the first consideration. Let it be where there is light and sunshine, where the sick person can look out of the window, at the same time not where the light will bother the eyes.

Don’t push one side of the bed up against the wall. In your capacity as nurse you may need to go around both sides from time to time, to smooth the bedclothes or perform other simple ministrations.

The best mattress is a hard one. It should be covered with a quilted pad. Tuck the sheet covering the mattress in at the top, because the sick slide down in bed.

A strip of rubber cloth or oilcloth should lay over the bottom sheet, extending from the pillow edge to about the middle of the bed (two and one-half to three feet). It should be drawn tight and tucked under the mattress and covered with a half-sheet of its own. This is called the draw sheet: its purpose is to prevent the mattress from getting wet or soiled. If no oilcloth is at hand, use newspapers. Newspapers can also be used for covering between blankets. They are preferable to heavy cotton comforts or cotton quilts, in spite of the rattling.

If the invalid has a cough with expectoration or secretion from the eyes or ears (as so often happens in measles) get a supply of paper bags from the grocery store, open one up and pin it by one side of its mouth to the side of the mattress. Have a supply of paper napkins or cotton pads to catch the sputum or secretions and when they are soiled throw them immediately into the paper bag. Burn the whole thing and replace with another once or twice a day.

A word about pillows. And this is something even highly trained nurses do not know. It applies especially to adults, but it is my guess children would be included. Here it is:

When a person in bed has arranged his own pillows, leave him alone, unless he asks for help. Even if he may not look comfortable to you.

What the invalid in bed wants is support for his head. The last time I was a victim, I would get the hard pillow mashed up around my head and I was all right. Evidently I did not look all right, be-cause as soon as the nurse spied me she would say, “Oh! Let me fix your pillows.” Then she would put the hard one against my back and the soft one on top so that when I leaned my head back it would nearly snap off, lolling over into space.

And every relative and visitor who entered the room would immediately move forward with helping hands outstretched and begin, “Oh! Let me just fix ”

This is an approach to which the experienced invalid learns to reply, “Stop right where you are. If you lay a hand on these pillows, I will bite it.”