Caregiving: Using a Bedside Commode (Toilet)
A bedside commode is a portable toilet. When someone can't make it to the toilet but is able to get out of bed, it can be a safe way to use the toilet. The doctor may recommend a bedside commode after a surgery or if someone has had some health problems that make it difficult to get to the toilet.
Encourage the person you're caring for to use the commode on a regular schedule as much as possible. For example, they may try to use it every 2 to 4 hours. Keeping a regular schedule may help people who have problems with incontinence (controlling urine).
If you are helping someone use a bedside commode, try to be relaxed. If you are calm and don't seem embarrassed, the person may feel more comfortable.
Helping someone use a bedside commode
It helps to keep the commode close to the person's bed. Place it where it will be easy to get to but not in the way, such as against the wall. Keep the area near the commode free from clutter.
Make sure you have all of the supplies you need, such as toilet paper and a damp cloth or wet wipes. Wash and dry your hands well before you get started, and have gloves available in case you need to help with wiping.
Make sure the person you're caring for is wearing non-slip shoes or slippers. It may also be helpful for them to wear clothes that are easy to take off.
You may need to help with the transfer from a bed or chair onto the commode. Here are some tips:
- If the commode has wheels, make sure they are locked.
- As the person gets ready to move to the commode, make sure their feet are not crossed.
- Have the person lean forward before standing. Help them stand up if needed.
- Help the person slowly turn and step back to the commode. If they can, have them reach back and hold onto both arms of the commode as they sit down.
- Be careful that they don't lose balance or tip the commode when sitting down. It's best to sit while using the commode.
After the person is done using the commode:
- Help them wipe if needed, and use gloves. Wet wipes may work better than toilet paper for cleaning. If wiping the vulva, be sure to wipe from front to back.
- If you helped the person wipe and your gloves became soiled, remove them and throw them away.
- Help the person stand up off the commode. Have them slowly turn, step back to the bed or chair, and then sit.
- Empty the commode bucket into the toilet.
- Rinse and wash the commode bucket or basin using a disinfectant diluted with water. Dry the commode or let it air-dry.
- Wash and dry your hands well.
Current as of: March 27, 2023
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Gayle E. Stauffer, RN - Registered Nurse
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