How to Change Sheets of an Occupied Bed


June 23, 2022

One task many caregivers struggle with is how to change the sheets when the person you are caring for can’t be moved from the bed.

Changing sheets regularly is important for the health and hygiene of your care recipient. It’s a critical step toward preventing infections and bedsores. Refreshing an occupied bed isn’t easy, but it’s certainly possible. Watch this video to learn how! Below the video are the nine steps involved in changing a bed while someone is still in it.

1. Find a partner, if possible

While it’s possible to change an occupied bed on your own, the task is significantly easier when done by two people.

2. Wash your hands and wear gloves

For your safety and the safety of the patient, thoroughly wash your hands before beginning the process of changing the bed linens. Gloves add a second level of protection.

3. Explain the process

The act of changing an occupied bed can be awkward for both the caregiver and the bedridden individual. In order to mitigate discomfort, take time to explain your intentions.

4. Secure the person who is in bed

Gently help them roll onto their side in order to ensure that they don’t roll off the bed. (If they can help in this process and/or hold on to the bed rail, the job will be both quicker and easier.)

5. Prepare the Sheets

Beginning at the opposite side of the bed, remove the tucked-in side of the sheet and roll it in the direction of the person lying down. Next, take a clean sheet and roll it toward them while he/she remains in the side-lying position. Then, help them roll onto his/her other side toward the clean sheet. Warn them, they will be rolling over a bump. 

6. Swap Out the Soiled Sheet for the Clean Sheet

With the person remaining on his/her side, remove the old sheet while pulling in the new one. (Four hands make this task much more manageable than two.) Pull the sheet taut to ensure that it’s free of wrinkles, then secure by tucking in the edges using hospital corners.

7. Change the Pillowcase

Gently slide the pillow from the bed using your hand to help lower the person’s head to the mattress. Remove the cover and replace with a clean pillowcase. Taking the same care, return the pillow underneath the person’s head or back.

8. Check in

Confirm that they are comfortable before covering them with a clean flat sheet and blanket.

9. Remove Gloves and Wash Your Hands

Remove and dispose of your gloves, then repeat the handwashing process.

This is not an easy job, but it’s a necessary one – both in terms of promoting your care recipient’s comfort as well as promoting infection control. 

Source: Thank you to for the video and content. 

We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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