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Do you ever sit on patients' beds?

  • Comments (16)

I recently spoke to an experienced nurse who was reprimanded for sitting on a patient’s bed. She was looking after a person with dementia who was crying and sat on the bed so she could give her a hug.

  • Is this a distraction from the real issue of ensuring staff clean their hands?
  • Comments (16)

Readers' comments (16)

  • I think it is a but hypocritical of us to ask relatives and visitors to not sit on beds, for us to then do it. However, I have also had to do it when a patient is upset, or when carrying out a procedure where space is limited and the patient is sat in the chair by the bed. I think it is a distraction from the bigger issues and common sense should be employed. It appears that 'mountains are made out of mole hills' for such insignificant behaviours, yet disastrous ones affecting patient safety, appear to be not taken so seriously.

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  • Anonymous

    He, he!

    I wouldn't be here if my mum an RAF ward sister hadn't told my dad, a chief RAF medical officer, off for sitting on a patient's bed!

    it was during the war in in Cairo and my dad had been admitted as a patient to her ward. When he had recovered and was awaiting discharge he visited one of his staff, also a patient there, and sat on his bed! the upshot of this was he asked my mum out (probably strictly against the rules as well) but she accepted and they married not long after as one of them was due to be posted home, and they lived together happily ever after!

    Sometimes, in certain circumstances it breaks down more formal barriers when communicating with a patient and could be seen as being more empathetic. to me it is a signal which says 'I have time for you, and I am give you my full attention by listening to you and I am not just about to dash off somewhere else'. It seems important when care is often so rushed in a hectic environment and in times where it is maintained that these 'six C's' are in short supply.

    A qualified nurse should be able to use her own clinical judgement when it is appropriate without fear of being reprimanded! Surely the care she provides to her patient is her own responsibility.

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  • Anonymous

    If there is not room to sit on a chair or one not available then sit oni the bed, unless your patient is highly infectcious! It allows for a better rapport than standiong over them when they are lying in the bed.

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  • Anonymous

    I didn't dare do it during the General secondment allocation during my psych nurse training :) but I did it pretty often in the psych discipline before and afterwards where cross infection was much less of an issue.

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  • Anonymous

    I will dare to be honest - I do it!
    I wash my hands, I wear gloves and aprons, I put my hair up.
    But we are expected to develop intamcy quickly with our patients and we are expected to speak to people at their level.
    It's much dirtier sitting/kneeling on the floor (which I also do as the situation requires) but to break the moment while you go and source a chair, one that you are allowed to sit on, means these precious moments pass.

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  • Lets face it, any infection risk is minimal, especially when we have often just made the bed. I agree it breaks down formal barriers and the question is when is this appropriate. In the case of consoling the upset patient, very much so. For a patient who values their privacy and personal space however it may be far too familiar. I think you have to take the situation and the patient's personality into account, much like using first names. I think as long as we ask the patient's permission/preference there is no great harm.

    There are those in nursing that value professionalism above the personal touch. They would probably say this is never appropriate as with first names. I believe therapeutic relationships are big part of our professional role, so it can be professional to be less formal. I would commend, not berate the nurse who hugged the patient.

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  • Anonymous

    Charlie Spencer | 3-Sep-2013 5:10 pm

    I entirely agree with your comment and also believe in the importance of building good therapeutic relationships, extending that to relatives and visitors of the patient, and good working relationships with colleagues.

    I think the patient sets the direction we should take and one usually senses how much closeness or space they need much as in any other social situation.

    book by Edward T. Hall
    'The Hidden Dimension'



    'Patient and Person: Empowering Interpersonal Relationships in Nursing' (Paperback)

    by Chris Stevenson, Marion Grieves, Jane Stein-Parbury


    The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (Penguin Psychology) [Paperback]


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  • Anonymous

    from last commentor above. On further reflection, as a patient, I would feel comforted if somebody came and sat on my bed (if possible with mobile phone turned off for a few minutes). To me (and I am sure many are no different) it signals availability and interest and a moment to listen to my concerns.

    In my view, small talk and shared experiences with a professional can help allay fears and anxieties and break down the distance and barriers between staff and patients, shows that they are also human and have feelings and helps strengthen a trusting therapeutic relationship. It should be encouraged as a vital part of the job and not always interrupted by others if not necessary and not perceived as idle time.

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  • Anonymous

    As a patient I must say I actually liked it when my consultant sat on my bed. Like some otheres have mentioned, it helped build rapport and was easier to have a conversation and for him to explain my condition to me.

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  • I really don't think its an issue for debate.
    Yes I sit on patients beds in many cases.
    I feel sorry for the nurse who was told off.

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