'Washing without water' is more efficient and improves outcomes versus traditional bed bathing, nursing home study finds

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Nursing homes could save money and improve resident skin care by using disposable wash gloves rather than giving traditional soap-and-water bed baths, according to results from a study in the Netherlands.

The six-week study involved 500 residents divided into two groups. Caregivers gave one group bed baths using disposable wash gloves “made of non-woven waffle fibers” containing skin cleanser and lotion, the researchers stated. The other resident group received bed baths using water, soap, washcloths and towels.

The “no water” group had slightly fewer skin abnormalities and lesions at the end of the trial, the investigators determined. Costs were comparable, with a €218 mean cost for the “no water” group and a €232 mean cost for the control group.

“Washing without water can be considered the more efficient alternative,” the authors wrote in the study abstract. They noted that use of disposable wash gloves is becoming increasingly common.

The researchers were affiliated with Radboud University Medical Centre in Nijmegen. Findings appear in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.
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