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The case of the linen thief (or discomforted staff member)

February 21, 2010
by Kathleen Mears
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When I first came here, there were 96 residents. We had plenty of gowns, bed linens, washcloths, and towels. But over the years the number of residents has gone down and our supplies are more limited. At times the aides have difficulty finding enough towels and washcloths to give residents for showers or to do their AM and HS care. The facility has pretty much done away with disposable wipes, so towels and wash cloths are necessary for the aides to do their job.

There have been discussions at resident council about the towel and washcloth situation. Management and some staffers are convinced they are being stolen or thrown away. Management has told us they are trying very hard to keep control of the towel and washcloth inventory. But at times there are still not enough.

I suggested that towels and washcloths be bagged separately from other linens and personal items so they can be washed more often during the day. But management said the aides do not have time to sort laundry.

Laundry is done on dayshift and afternoon shift. There is no laundry person here at night. Lately, night shift has had to pitch in and wash some towels and wash cloths so that there are enough for the next morning.

Cleaning up incontinent residents throughout the day is a task. Rinsing out the linens afterwards may not be pleasant, but it is quite important. Wash cloths and towels might be being thrown away to avoid rinsing them. Or someone could be taking them. Whoever might be doing it knows that the towels and washcloths belong to the residents because they are used on them.

Kathleen Mears


Kathleen Mears is a long-time blogger who has been a nursing home resident for 21 years. She is...



How about seperate "bins" for laundry. One for towels
and wash cloths and one for the Resident's personal laundry. Place one or more of each on each unit depending on the size of the unit . Question: is there an outside facility where the wash cloths, towels and "johnny coats" can be sent out to be washed.

Perhaps a page from the military experience could be use....a net bag held shut with a large (@4" Safety pin) or just tied shut (if that works) with the name of the resident on a large attached tag on the bottom.....they get shut, tossed in the laundry and when done, it's quite clear who owns what. You might be able to buy them at a military surplus place at a good price as well. We would put our uniforms in there