On certain occasions, a patient who has had a stroke will need assistance in dressing themselves due to weakness on one side of the body or in certain limbs. Assisting your patient with daily activities helps the patient to feel that they are in control of their situation. Before you assist a patient with dressing, wash your hands carefully to avoid transmission of germs. Ensure that a clean set of clothes is available and ready to wear. Greet your patient, and explain that you want to help them get dressed or change clothes. Then, follow these steps to assist your patient:
- Teach the patient that the safest way to get dressed is to undress the weak side of the body first. While your patient will need your help at first, you can increase the patient’s independence and reduce the risk of falls later on by teaching the proper way to change clothes.
- Assist your patient in removing clothes as needed. You will want to let the patient complete as much of the task as possible without your assistance. Set the dirty clothes aside and move the clean clothes within easy reach of the patient.
- Throughout the process, you will need to monitor you patient to ensure they do not become fatigued or dizzy. Be ready to help the patient sit or lie down if needed.
- Instruct the patient to dress the strong side of the body first. For example, if the patient is stronger on the right side, have him or her place their right arm in the right sleeve first. Again, allow the patient to complete as much of the task as possible without assistance.
When the task is complete, ensure dirty clothes are placed in the appropriate receptacle. Wash your hands again. Helping your patient learn self-care skills such as dressing will allow the patient to regain their independance and will speed recovery.
Expert Tip By Tanya Glover, CNA
Dressing a dependant patient can be a challenge, and each one is different. What works for one may not work for another. Our patients are all individuals and this is something that we sometimes forget. During this part of your skills test, it is important to remember not to pull, push or otherwise roughly manipulate your “patient”. For me it helped to talk to my “patient” during the process, letting them know each thing I was doing and allowing them time to help or respond to the care I was providing. In fact, talking to your “patient” during any of the skills you are tested on (aside from hand washing) is a good idea. It will help you feel less nervous and allow you to talk yourself through each step aloud.
The main thing, aside from patient safety, is to allow your patients to do as much dressing as they are able to do. A mistake we all make at one point or another is doing every little thing for them. This takes away from their independence. Even if your patient likes this type of care, encourage as much self care as possible. If you don’t let them do the things they can, their muscles will atrophy and then they really will be helpless. Even dependant patients can do a little something to help with their dressing activities. If they can lift their arm a few inches to get their shirt on, let them do it! If they can help slide their feet into their own shoes, allow it! Keep their bodies as active as possible and you will have preformed a job well done.