Types Of Bed Pans And How To Use Them

Incontinence and other problems with using the bathroom can be a difficult subject to talk about. But if you or a loved one are struggling in this area, know that you’re not alone. As many as 300 million people around the world have problems with incontinence and it’s something we should be discussing more openly. 

There are a lot of products designed to help people with toileting issues and improve their quality of life. Bedpans and urinals are one such option and in this guide, I’d like to talk about the various types to help you find something that will meet your needs.

What Is A Bedpan?

A bedpan is a device that allows people to urinate or have a bowel movement without having to leave the bed. 

There are also urinals which are designed for both men and women to urinate into, again without the need to move from their bed. 

Who Would Benefit From Using A Bedpan?

One of the main reasons that people may need to use a bedpan is if they are bedbound or otherwise unable to walk to the bathroom. This may be because of an injury or illness, while recovering from surgery, or because of mobility issues relating to age. 

It’s important that, if you are caring for someone with a medical condition, they are able to regularly empty their bladder and bowels. Not going so can cause further health problems. 

People with incontinence may also opt to use a bedpan as this saves them from having to rush to the bathroom in the middle of the night with a risk of not making it in time. This is especially important for people who also have limited mobility.

Types Of Bedpans

Not all bedpans will match your needs so when it comes to choosing one, you have to think about things like how often you’ll use the device, your size and weight, your gender and how mobile you are. Here are some of the most common types of bedpans and urinals and what they’re typically used for. 

Regular Bedpan

A regular or standard bedpan is a collection device that is normally made from either plastic or metal. They feature a well where the user can empty their bowels or urinate without the need to leave their bed. 

These regular bedpans are generally used by people who are unable to get out of bed easily without assistance.

Fracture Bedpan

The main difference between a regular bedpan and a fracture bedpan is that the collection pan is a little lower. These bedpans come with a wedge shape and are used for people who have very limited mobility or no mobility at all. The caregiver is able to slide the pan underneath the patient, allowing them to relieve themselves without having to move. 

The fracture bedpan is most commonly used for people who have broken bones that prevent them from moving, those with missing limbs or people who are paralysed. They’re also a common device for anyone who is suffering from a condition that limits their movement. 


A urinal is slightly different to a bedpan in that it is designed to go over the person’s genitals. There are two different designs; one for males and one for females and many bedbound men often prefer these devices when they need to pee. 

Commode Chair

A commode chair is a type of portable toilet and they’re ideal for people who aren’t limited to one room of the house as they can be freely moved around. 

The chair consists of a collection chamber for waste and a seat which is used in a very similar manner to a standard toilet. There’s usually also a lid which covers the chamber to prevent any odours from spreading. 

These types of bedpans are suitable for people who might not be able to easily access the bathroom. 

Bariatric Bedpan

If the user weighs more than 300 lbs then standard bedpans may not be suitable and a bariatric bedpan would be more appropriate. These are designed for larger users and therefore have a much wider seat and come with a greater weight capacity. For obese users these pans are a lot easier to use than the standard model. 

Helping A Loved One To Use A Bedpan 

If you find yourself caring for a loved one who requires the use of a bedpan, it’s important to properly educate yourself on what to do. This makes it easier for all parties and ensures good hygiene and safety.


Before you get started, you’ll need to make sure that you have all of the necessary equipment which includes the bedpan itself, some warm water, toilet paper, wet wipes or a washcloth, disposable gloves and towels.

It’s important to clean the bedpan with warm water before use and make sure that it’s thoroughly dry. If you’re using a metal bedpan, keep in mind that these do retain heat so you’ll want to make sure it isn’t too hot before you use it as this could burn the skin. 

To make it easier to get the bedpan underneath the user, it can be helpful to sprinkle a small amount of baby powder along the edge. 

Helping Someone Who Can Raise Themselves Off The Bed

Some people will be able to lift their own buttocks off the bed and in this case, you’ll need to take the following steps to help them use the bedpan. 

  • Make sure you’re wearing disposable gloves for hygiene reasons. 
  • Use a waterproof pad on the bed to protect the surface from any spills
  • If possible, slightly raise the head of the bed and try to get the person into a seated position as this makes it a lot easier to take a bowel movement or urinate. However, in some situations, this may not be permitted because of their condition.
  • Ensure that you’re properly supporting the person’s lower back with one hand while the other slides the curved edge underneath them as they lift their buttocks.
  • Where the person is able to use the bedpan alone, allow them some privacy. However, if they have any kind of physical weakness, they should not be left unattended. 
  • Once the person is finished, lower the head of the bed back down and have them raise their buttocks so that you can remove the bedpan. While doing this, ensure you support their lower back with your free hand. 

Helping Someone Who Cannot Raise Themselves Off The Bed

There may be some injuries or physical conditions that limit a person’s ability to raise their buttocks off the bed in which case, the process for helping them use a bedpan will be different. 

  • Again, start by ensuring you are wearing disposable gloves
  • You’ll need to roll your loved one onto their side in order to place down your waterproof pad. After this, you should also place the bedpan against their buttocks using one hand. 
  • Now roll the person back while keeping the bedpan in place.
  • If it is possible, you can raise the head of the bed so that the person is in a seated position. As I mentioned earlier, this can make going to the toilet a lot easier. 
  • As before, if the person is able to be left alone without a risk of injury, allow them some privacy while they relieve themselves. 
  • Once they are done, lower the bed back down and roll your loved one back onto their side so that you can remove the bedpan. 

Post Bedpan Hygiene

Toileting requires excellent hygiene and this applies just as much when using a bedpan. Once the person has finished using their bedpan, you’ll need to follow these hygiene practices. 

  • Roll your loved one onto their side and clean them using toilet paper to begin with. 
  • You can then take some wet wipes or a damp washcloth. Where necessary, you may also need to use soap and water to make sure the area is properly clean. When cleaning a female, ensure that you always clean from front to back to prevent the spread of faecal matter which could cause infection. 
  • When they are clean, thoroughly dry the person. 
  • While you’re doing this, take the opportunity to check for any sores or red spots and if you notice anything, this should be reported to the healthcare professional in charge. 
  • Your loved one will also need to clean their hands and they can do this using a new wet washcloth or some wet wipes. 
  • Now it’s time to clean the bedpan by first emptying the contents into the toilet. 
  • You’ll then need to use soap and warm water to thoroughly clean the pan. It’s a good idea to use some sort of disinfectant to kill any bacteria. 

Final Thoughts

If you or a loved one struggles to use the bathroom or is bed bound and cannot access the toilet, a bedpan is a very important piece of equipment. 

There are different bedpans designed to meet the needs of different users so it’s important to choose the right one as well as familiarising yourself with how to use it properly and safely.