Key considerations when choosing a mattress

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A therapy mattress or support surface provides a lot more than just a good night’s sleep. 

It can impact on the likelihood of pressure injuries developing, control the level of moisture on the skin, minimise or maximise movement, alleviate pain, and affect a person’s independence and ability to carry out daily self-care tasks.

Individuals may have a personal preference regarding foam or air mattresses. However, it’s important to consider the following aspects:

  • Body shape (weight, height, morphology)
  • Tone, contractures or spasm
  • Bed mobility and transfers
  • Sensation
  • Continence
  • Home environment and social environment

If pressure injuries are a concern 

If pressure injuries are a concern or high risk, then a powered alternating air mattress is a great option. An air pump will regularly inflate and deflate alternating cells of air inside the mattress to offload pressure and help wounds to heal. If the person has other open wounds such as skin grafts, this is also a good choice.

It’s always good to consider the individual's Waterlow score to determine their risk of developing pressure injuries. This will help in your justification in the funding application process and steer you in the right direction when choosing a mattress.

How the individual's care is being managed

Choosing the right mattress for the individual may also depend on how their care is being managed. Are they turned regularly? Do they have professional carers or are they being looked after by loved ones? Also, how heavy are they? Is their weight evenly distributed or concentrated in one area of their body? Is shear or friction likely to be an issue when they move?

The individual's microclimate

The individual's micro-climate is another factor to add into the mix. A person’s age, weight, medication, continence and physical environment can all lead to excessive sweating and moisture on the skin. Different mattresses provide different levels of ventilation so think about what level of air flow is required.

Mattresses come with a waterproof, breathable cover. To experience the full benefits these innovative mattresses offer, we recommend covering them with a loose sheet only and avoid adding electric blankets and other layers.

Comfort and the need to alleviate pain

Of course comfort and the need to alleviate pain are both vital considerations. Some mattresses offer more immersion than others. This allows bony prominences to ‘sink’ into the surface. While other mattresses will ‘push back’ against a person’s body weight, offering greater support.


To help find the right support surface for an individual's needs we've put together some selection guides. If you have any questions get in touch and one of the team would be happy to help.