3.5 Skills Checklist: Making an Unoccupied Bed Checklist

Bed making is a necessary skill for nursing assistants to keep the environment clean, prevent skin breakdown and the spread of infection, and respect the resident’s dignity by providing an orderly environment. Linens should be changed at least weekly or whenever they become soiled.

Follow these infection control guidelines when making beds:

  • Never allow linens to touch your uniform.
  • Do not transfer linens from one room to another.
  • Do not place soiled linens on the floor.
  • If linens touch the floor, they should be placed in the soiled laundry for cleaning and not used.
  • Do not shake linens because it can spread airborne pathogens.
  • Store clean linens in a closed closet or a covered cart.

Making an Unoccupied Bed Checklist

1. Gather Supplies: Linens

2. Routine Pre-Procedure Steps:

    • Knock on the client’s door.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Introduce yourself and identify the resident.
    • Maintain respectful, courteous, and professional communication at all times.
    • Provide for privacy.
    • Explain the procedure to the client.

3. Procedure Steps:

    • Place a clean barrier on a flat surface. Flip the linens over and place them on the barrier so the fitted sheet is on top.
    • Don gloves.
    • Look for any personal belongings that may have been left in the bed and return them to their proper place.
    • Untuck the corners and roll all linens together to the middle of the bed.
    • Place soiled linens in a linen bag or other appropriate container according to facility policy.
    • Remove gloves.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • If the bed is soiled, sanitize it or notify environmental services to sanitize it.
    • After the bed has dried from sanitization, place the fitted sheet on the bed. Seams should be against the mattress and away from the resident. Smooth the sheet to prevent wrinkles that can cause injury to fragile skin. (Note: If a flat sheet is used as the bottom sheet, refer to sub-bullets below for details on making mitered corners.)
    • Place the lift sheet where it is estimated the resident’s shoulders to hips will be when they are in bed.
    • Place a soaker pad or other waterproof barrier on top of the lift sheet.
    • Place the flat sheet on top and smooth it out. Make mitered corners at the foot of the bed by doing the following:
      • Tuck the entire end of the sheet under the foot of the bed.
      • While facing the foot of the bed, create a 45-degree angle from the corner of the bed with the sheet.
      • Place the angled edge of the sheet on top of the bed and tuck in anything hanging below the bed frame.
      • Lower the angled sheet back over the edge of the bed.
    • Place a bedspread or blanket on top of the sheet per the resident’s preference. Make a mitered corner in the bedspread or blanket by performing the steps above.
    • Lay a pillow on the bed and slide the pillowcase over the pillow.
    • Put the pillow at the head of the bed with the open end of the pillowcase faced away from the door. Repeat for multiple pillows.

4. Post-Procedure Steps:

    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Check on resident comfort and ask if anything else is needed.
    • Ensure the bed is low and locked. Check the brakes.
    • Place the call light or signaling device within reach of the resident.
    • Open the door and privacy curtain.
    • Perform hand hygiene.
    • Report abnormal findings to the nurse.

View a YouTube video[1] of a nursing instructor demonstrating making an unoccupied bed:

  1. Chippewa Valley Technical College. (2022, December 3). Making an Unoccupied Bed. [Video]. YouTube. Video licensed under CC BY 4.0https://youtu.be/K0c9fSd46JA 


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Nursing Assistant Copyright © by Chippewa Valley Technical College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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