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If it doesn't smell right, it probably isn't.


When visiting care facilities, including acute care hospitals, nursing homes, rehab units and even assisted living homes, trust your sense of smell as you check out conditions. A sanitary place will smell sanitary. Odors won't be covered up with cleaning sprays.

You will find that even within one facility, the odors in wings can vary. At one highly respected rehab center in the Midwest, one wing didn't pass the the smell test, while the rest of the building was ok. If you come across anything like that, have your client moved to an area that is acceptable. Aside from the sanitation aspects, if the odors bother you, why subject your client to them?


After your client has been bathed, he or she should smell fresh. If you detect any sour smell or anything less than fresh, see that the job is done over again, properly.


Infections will often cause odors, and you should be familiar with those and attuned to them. I once detected a foot sore on a patient in an acute care hospital by its odor. The patient's foot had been wedged at the bottom of the bed. He had no feeling at all in his legs and was unaware of the developing sore. Meanwhile, the staff assigned to him had missed the warning signs.

If you discover a sore, what do you do? If a doctor isn't available right away, arrange for a Wound Care Nurse to treat the wound immediately.
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