How to Easily Change a Diaper in a Wheelchair (Complete Guide)

how to change a diaper in a wheelchair

Wearing a diaper may become necessary for disabled children, adults, persons with temporary limbs restrictions, or older persons using a wheelchair.

As you grow older and begin to experience restricted use of your limbs, your body might become heavier due to a lack of movement to aid blood flow.

Hence, it becomes difficult to do certain things yourself like urinating, using the restroom, or even dressing up.

Diapers are the near best possible solutions to help you as a disabled or elderly from getting yourself soiled and your immediate environment.

They will also protect you from contamination and diseases you could have easily avoided.

As an adult, wearing a pad might be discomforting, not to talk of wearing a diaper and soiling yourself in it.

You might begin to wonder how you would go about putting on diapers and changing diapers when you cannot even lift yourself in your condition.

The following steps are sure to ease your dilemma if adhered to strictly. But first, you need the help of a caregiver or someone capable of assisting you physically. 

Table of Contents

Materials for Changing a Diaper

  • A pack of new diapers, either wearable like a pant or with straps
  • Rash creams or baby powder to help prevent rashes, especially if you use a diaper frequently. The powder will also provide temporary dryness, freshness, and comfort
  • Towels and/or wipes for cleaning the butt/genital area
  • Gloves; and water (preferably lukewarm) to dampen the towel for cleaning

Related: 13 Most Common Reasons for Wheelchair Use

If There is Just One Person to Help Change

There are two options to this situation depending on the severity of the disability.

The first is to push the wheelchair to the wall and lock the brakes. Next, remove the straps, widen the disabled legs, and place your left knee in between so that the legs are demarcated and do not come back together.

Gently lift the disabled to pull out the diaper from beneath. If it is a wearable diaper, widen the disabled legs as above to place your left knees in between the legs.

how to change a disabled person's diaper

Gently lift the disabled to pull off the diaper pants easily, then pull to the knee, put a changing cloth or towel on the seat and make the disabled sit back on the chair.

When the disabled sit back, pull the remaining diaper pants down and fold the diaper (either type) back properly to avoid the contents making a mess.

Gently lift the disabled again and clean the genital area with cleaning wipes and a lightly soaked towel. Take a dry towel to give a quick dab, so the area is less moist from the cleaning.

Remove the changing cloth from the chair and place the diaper if it is the type with straps (making sure that the flap side with the straps is where the butt of the disabled will sit) or place another clean cloth if it is the wearable pant type.

Make the disabled sit back so that you can relieve the pressure on your spine for some seconds. Then, change your gloves to apply the rash cream or baby powder.

If it is a wearable diaper, wear it to the knee level of the disabled. Again, gently lift the disabled the same way described above and apply the rash cream or baby powder. Tell the disabled to hold on to you (for extra stability) while pulling the diaper pants up.

Otherwise, after applying the powder, make the disabled sit on the diaper with the straps; widen the hips so that you can easily strap the diaper around the upper hip region of the disabled. Make necessary adjustments and clear up once done.

The second option is to make the disabled hold on to something stationary if the disabled can stand.

Gently spread the legs so that you can have ample space to work with. Follow the steps of removing and changing the diapers above, but be careful not to mistakenly hit the disabled and try to be faster with it, so you don’t keep the disabled standing for long.

Related: How to Wash Someone’s Hair in a Wheelchair

If There are Two Persons to Help Change

The changing process is basically the same as with a single person performing the task, except there are two persons, making it faster and less stressful.

One person will be responsible for lifting and safeguarding the disabled (preferably from the front), while the other changes the diaper (preferably from the back).

how to change a diaper in a wheelchair

The person to safeguard the disabled must be physically fit and strong to squat and simultaneously keep a straight spine for the duration of the diaper change.

The person in front will lift the disabled simultaneously as the single caregiver above and put the disabled back on the chair when necessary for the wearable pant diaper.

If you are in front, you will have to stabilize the disabled by holding on from the chest and not under the arms; then, make your hands remain on the lower back of the disabled’s spine.

The person at the back should carefully remove the diaper, clean the genital area, apply the rash cream or powder, and replace the diaper.

Related: Complete Guide On Choosing Disabled Clothing for Wheelchair Users

Important Tips on How to Change a Disabled Person’s Diaper

Make sure to:

  • trash the used diaper in a polythene or paper bag to avoid soiling other things in the trash can
  • change the diaper, at most, 8 hourly to avoid infections, rashes, and leakages if it becomes too full; change if messed up before 8 hours
  • clean the genital area of the disabled – if female, wipe from front to back
  • endeavor to wear the diaper properly to avoid leakages by the side
  • place the materials you need nearby before you start changing
  • clean up properly and disinfect the area occasionally
  • be careful with the disabled to avoid further harm or complications to their situation
  • be tolerant when changing the diaper of the disabled as you will require a lot of patience – so that they are not emotionally hurt if you keep sighing or showing your discomfort or reduced strength in performing such a task
  • wear your gloves at all times and replace them when needed

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How to Easily Change a Diaper in a Wheelchair (Complete Guide)

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