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Partial Bed Bath and Back Rub CNA Skill

Daily activities like bathing can be difficult for many patients. CNAs can assist in these activities by providing partial bed baths to keep them sanitary and healthy. A partial bed bath is an important skill to help patients who struggle with mobility or lack the ability to clean themselves. While a full bath requires a significant amount of work, a partial bath can help keep patients clean between a full, proper bathing. Oftentimes, as part of a patient’s care plan, a CNA will also need to provide a back rub along with the partial bed bath. These skills can be tested during the CNA skills test as part of the CNA certification exam. 

To learn all the necessary steps for this skill, please watch this CNA partial bed bath and back rub skill video for a complete demonstration. 

CNA Skill – Back Rub and Partial Bed Bath for Skills Exam

The process for a partial bed bath and back rub during the CNA skills exam is as follows:

  1. Perform the standard CNA beginning tasks. Knock before entering the patient’s room, greet the patient by name, introduce yourself, explain the task you are about to perform, close the privacy curtain, and wash your hands.
  2. Gather your necessary supplies: a barrier for the table, two towels, a privacy blanket, a bath basin, soap, a clean gown, four washcloths, lotion, and gloves.
  3. Fill a basin with warm water and let the patient test it to make sure the temperature is appropriate.
  4. Place the privacy blanket over the patient, then pull the sheet beneath down to their waist.
  5. Assist the patient in sitting up, untying their gown and then placing a towel beneath them to keep their bedding clean.
  6. Help the patient back down, making sure the towel is covering the sheet beneath them.
  7. Lift the patient’s arm closest to you, supporting their elbow, and then relocate the gown to the other side of the patient beneath their blanket so that it’s out of the way.
  8. Apply your gloves.
  9. Wet your first washcloth, ring it out, and then wash their face, starting with their eyes working from the inner to outer corner. Be sure to use a different corner of the washcloth for each eye to avoid contamination. 
  10. Once the eyes are clean, gently wash the rest of the face, finishing with the nose.
  11. Use the towel to gently pat the patient’s entire face dry.
  12. Wet and ring out the second washcloth, then apply soap.
  13. Wash behind the ears, under the chin, across the neck, the upper torso, then lift the blanket (while protecting privacy) and wash down the abdomen and up their side, down the front of the arm, their hand, the back of the arm and the armpit. Be sure to support the arm at the elbow as you wash their arm.
  14. Put the washcloth back in the basin and use a clean cloth to rinse the areas you just cleaned with soap.
  15. Set aside your rinsing cloth, take a towel and gently dry all of the areas you just washed and rinsed.
  16. With a clean torso, help the patient put on a clean gown, supporting the arm nearest you as you apply the gown, then moving to the other side of the bed to apply to the other arm. You do not need to tie the gown at this point..
  17. Dispose of the dirty gown.
  18. Inform the patient that you will be rolling them onto their side so you can wash their back and provide a back rub.
  19. Use a new, damp washcloth, ring it out, apply soap, and wash the back of the neck, the shoulders, the back, and down to the waist.
  20. Set that washcloth aside, get a new damp one and rinse all of the places you just washed.
  21. Take a towel and gently dry all of the areas you just rinsed.
  22. Inform the patient you will be providing a back rub.
  23. Apply lotion to your hands, warming it up by rubbing your hands together, and start with the small of the back, working in small circles and working your way up to the shoulders. Do this three times.
  24. Use the towel to wipe off excess lotion.
  25. Tie the patient’s gown and remove the towel that you placed beneath them to protect the linens.
  26. Help the patient into their starting position and place all of the used cloths and towels into dirty linen.
  27. Clean your basin, collect the soap and lotion and return them to storage. 
  28. Discard the barrier and remove your gloves.
  29. Remove the privacy blanket and pull the patient’s sheet back to its original position.
  30. Place the privacy blanket in dirty linen.
  31. Perform your standard completion tasks – wash your hands, ensure the patient has a clean environment, ask if they are comfortable, give them their call light and close their privacy curtain.

* Please be sure to consult the testing materials provided by the skills test provider in your state to ensure that these steps for CNAs to perform a partial bed bath and back rub are in compliance. The procedure in different states and from different test providers can vary slightly and greatly affect your score.