After reading “Bed Bath,” by Kathleen Hughes (Reflections, January), I couldn't help but think of my experiences while working as a certified nursing assistant and during nursing school, from which I'll graduate this spring.
When the professor first gave us instructions on how to perform a bed bath on a manikin in the lab, we all breezed through it, believing it would be one of our easier tasks. But manikins don't take pride in themselves, aren't concerned about privacy, and don't have feelings.
During the first bed bath I performed on a patient, it became clear that while I'd practiced the correct techniques—how to fold the towel over my hand appropriately, what order of body parts to bathe—I hadn't learned how best to respect the patient's dignity and pride, and how to establish rapport.
Now, when I walk into a patient's room, I know it's essential that the patient trust me before I put her or him into such a vulnerable state. Hughes said it so well: patient care is about “honoring the dignity in that body, the dignity in the desire for the most basic of human care.”
Poland Spring, ME