CNA Skill: Dressing A Dependant Patient

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

11 Responses to CNA Skill: Dressing A Dependant Patient

  1. Robin December 1, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    In the above explination there is a contradiction of placing clothes on the weak side first, at the beginning, and then it says to place on strong side first at the end of the steps. Please advise as to what is the propper steps. I believe it it always dress and undress the weak side first! Thanks bunches!

    • Admin December 1, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

      Hi Robin,
      Thank you for pointing that out. I’ve changed it to reflect the correct way of doing it. You’re supposed to undress starting with the weak side first. While dressing.. you’re supposed to start with the strong side first.

      • Mary March 9, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

        According to my NNAAP handbook, you must undress starting with unaffected side and dress starting with weak side. It makes sense when you visualize it.

      • Glenny March 20, 2013 at 6:07 am #

        You’re supposed to undress starting with the strong side first. Remember that the weak side arm can hardly move. Dress up starting with the weak side first.

  2. Ready 2 test February 11, 2011 at 5:46 am #

    He is very sloppy in handing the clothing; it’s hang all over the place..

  3. I am almost there December 2, 2011 at 5:02 pm #

    According to Hartman’s Nursing Assistant Care: The Basics

    Undress the strong side first then the weaker side

    Dressing: (reverse of undressing)
    Dress the weak side first then dress the strong side

  4. karen August 7, 2012 at 6:32 pm #

    He did not use the gate belt or show the gate belt when he had paient stand to pull up pants I am studying to take my skills and I would not use this mans way of doing it when I take the skills test.. slopy and to much of a hurry.

  5. Shannon Everhart December 12, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    The videos are not showing up on the site?

    • Admin December 13, 2012 at 7:27 am #

      Just checked Shannon, everything seems fine.

  6. rita March 20, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    I can’t hear what the man is saying even with volume to highest level

  7. Mrs. L March 22, 2013 at 2:17 am #

    My teacher said the easiest way to remember is you UNdress the UNaffected and dress the affected.

Leave a Reply