How to Improve Patient Satisfaction by Making Bathing Activities Easier

Patient Satisfaction by Making Bathing Activities Easier

Patient satisfaction became an important focus in healthcare delivery when the evolution of the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) survey was introduced in 2006 through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid.

Pay for performance was born and by 2007, when financial incentives were attached to the survey scores, approximately 95% of hospitals participated.[1] 

  • Patient satisfaction is an important and commonly used indicator for measuring the quality of health care. It has evolved into a strong commitment by many healthcare organizations to provide more patient-centric care.
  • Patient satisfaction affects clinical outcomes, patient retention, and medical malpractice claims. It affects the timely, efficient, and patient-centered delivery of quality health care. Patient satisfaction is thus a proxy to measure the success of doctors and hospitals.[2]
  • Therefore, patient satisfaction is not just a matter of wants and needs. Improved patient satisfaction can often lead to better health outcomes.
  • Research has shown that patients with acute conditions such as myocardial infarction have more positive outcomes if they had better satisfaction reports.[3]

As a nurse, you are on the frontlines of patient care, which means that patient satisfaction depends on you to a large extent. 

Some of the reported complaints about nurses include lack of empathy, failure to accord proper dignity, lack of communication, and unprofessional behavior.

These complaints can be addressed through seemingly small changes: knocking on doors before entering, Not talking about patients with colleagues in their presence, and maintaining a dignified care environment.

Another way to ensure patient satisfaction is to promote better hygiene through easy, effective, dignified, and safe bathing procedures.

Bathing is a Priority in Patient Satisfaction

An article published in Elite Learning back in 2005 shows just how deplorable the bathing experience can be from a patient’s perspective. The author, Sherrie Dornberger, is a former Certified Director of Nursing and is currently the Executive Director of NADONA/LTC. 

Sherrie was hospitalized for almost two years with a catastrophic illness that required her to receive full care over the course of two years, including bed baths. She describes how nurses would strip her, wash her with cold water, and laugh while making evening plans over her.

One time, they even left her naked on her bed for over an hour before they could complete the bath. Such behavior is demeaning and unacceptable, and yet it is likely that it still happens to this day.

Whether patients require a bed bath or can wash, the duty to ensure a productive bathing experience rests on you as a nurse or caregiver because it affects all aspects of patient satisfaction including a sense of well-being, hygiene, comfort, and health outcomes.

1. Reduce the Risk of Regular and Hospital-Acquired Infections

Bathing patients is a basic element of patient care as are nutrition, proper rest, and dignity. It is a major strategy to prevent the increased presence of organisms on the patient’s body that may become harmful and cause infection. 

The use of modern methods of bed bathing such as the use of antimicrobial soaps like chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) has been shown through various studies to significantly reduce the bacterial load on the patients’ skin.

Using CHG for bathing for high-risk patients may also reduce the risk of HAIs that traditional water-and-soap methods of bathing are not as effective in preventing. When patients can take showers, their hygiene improves even further.

2. Improve Comfort

Patients in ICU and those who are bedridden require effective, regular baths administered by the caregiver or nurse, and are a matter of necessity due to their acuity, lack of mobility, and the presence of devices.

Bathing critical care patients daily stimulate their skin to improve circulation and promotes a greater sense of wellbeing and comfort.

3. Stimulate and Encourage Better Health

We already know that better hygiene makes for better patient outcomes. It is useful for stimulating the body, increasing vascularization, encourages mobility, and a sense of autonomy when patients can take even a small part in their own bathing. These factors contribute greatly to a patient’s recovery.

4. Allows Nurses to Examine the Overall Patient Condition

Most nurses today delegate the role of bathing patients to nurse’s aides. They understand the importance but do not have the time to provide this care themselves. 

This can be frustrating for nurses who may remember a time when this role was critical because it allows nurses to examine patients more intimately. 

During a bath, you can check for changes in skin condition (color, tone, texture, etc), skin health (lesions, wounds, rashes, etc.), nutritional status, oral health, mobility, pain levels, etc.

5. It Influences the Perceptions of the Patient’s Family

The families of patients base a lot of their perception on how well their loved one is taken care of frequently measuring this care in unscientific ways.

A patient who is well-groomed, clean, and comfortable presents a more appealing picture than when their loved one is disheveled, dirty, and unkempt.

How to Improve Bathing for Patients Satisfaction

The practice of bathing patients has been evolving for decades. Today, nurses and caregivers know the basics of bathing patients: preserving dignity, maintaining privacy, providing comfort, and allowing the patients help wherever they can to encourage autonomy.

There are now better processes and newer technologies available for patient hygiene activities which can promote better infection prevention, increase patient comfort, and a faster recovery. 

  1. Disposable basins are used to reduce the risk of bacterial contamination. Non-disposable basins used in patient bathing are a significant source of potential infection. Studies have shown that 98% of basins tested have microorganisms growing in them including drug-resistant species such as S. aureus, Enterococcus, Candida albicans, and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
  2. Patient bath times should be organized according to their preference and clinical condition rather than institutional needs.  This is an example of patient-centered care.
  3. Using pH-balanced cleansers rather than soap can be convenient because these cleansers do not need rinsing and may be more efficient to use.
  4. Prepackaged products, distilled water, or filtered water prevents the use of unfiltered tap water and plain soap which can leave the skin of patients dry and more susceptible to bacterial invasion. And using lotions after a bath keeps the patient’s skin moist and soft.  Prepackaged products already contain emollients for this purpose. 
  5. Bathe patients daily with a disposable cloth prepackaged with a 2% solution of CHG (chlorhexidine gluconate). It has been demonstrated to reduce the presence of multi-drug resistant bacteria on the skin surface.
  6. Talk to the patient when bathing them to promote a sense of dignity. Doing this also gives you a chance to examine them, get feedback, and provide education.
  7. Exceed the patient’s expectations by providing care for nails, makeup, and hair wherever possible.
  8. For ambulatory patients, find ways for them to use the shower daily when allowed.
  9. Educate patients and their families about bathing and get their feedback on what might work best for their loved ones.

Bathing Patients with Dressings, IV Lines and Surgical Drains: How SealSkin Can Help

Maintaining the overall hygiene of the patient is not easy for both patients and caregivers. This is especially true for patients with IV lines, dressings, and surgical drains.   

At SealSkin, we identified this as a common problem for nursing and caregivers and realized that we could make bathing patients easier and more rewarding for everybody. By developing the SealSkin medical wrap technology, we have made it possible for patients and caregivers to have stress-free baths and enjoy a more satisfactory healthcare experience.

We invite you to learn more about the uses of SealSkin medical wrap in nursing and caregiving and see how you can improve patient satisfaction with one simple change.