Choosing the right bed for your client can make an enormous difference to their comfort, functional ability, safety and independence.
Every individual is different in terms of height, weight, level of mobility, size of their room and their social environment and all of these factors must be considered. There are plenty of healthcare beds to choose from, it’s worth knowing about the latest features so you can find the best match for your client’s needs.
Cubro Occupational Therapist Sharon Woodward says today’s healthcare beds are designed to work in conjunction with modern mattresses to enhance pressure care management and help position and move a client safely without damaging their skin.
“The evolution of profiling – which is the ability to move different parts of the bed – continues to get more sophisticated and really helps get the best out of a good quality pressure care mattress,” she explains.
Many beds offer a ‘mattress compensation’ function so when the head of the bed is raised, it also moves back slightly so clients don’t slide down the mattress and suffer a shear injury. It also ensures taller clients aren’t pushed down the bed and their feet don’t hit the end board.
Sharon says the slats which support the mattress have also improved in recent years. Flexi slats are now available on some models which attach to the bed frame with a rubber fixing. “They flex where your body is heavier and get your body into a more ergonomic position in conjunction with the mattress,” she explains. “More body surface is therefore in contact with the support surface which provides optimal pressure relief.”
Cubro Occupational Therapist Bonnie Chapman highly recommends opting for a bed with Trendelenburg (feet higher) and Reverse Trendelenburg (head higher) functions. “That ability to tilt can certainly help with pain management and will help offload pressure in the sacral area,” she says.
“Clients can also utilise that function to socialise, watch TV or use a computer which is important – especially for people who spend a large amount of time lying down.”
Beds that offer a knee break of between 5° and 10° will help relieve pressure in the heels and avoid unnecessary injuries, and the ability to lower or raise the bed should also be carefully considered.
“Some beds can lower all the way to the ground if you need,” Bonnie says. “Examine what the client’s transfer needs are as well as the caregiver – if they have back issues, you’ll need a bed that can be raised to a comfortable height for them to work alongside. If a hoist is going to be used, make sure the bed can go low enough so the client’s body isn’t scraping across the mattress as they’re moved across.” The ability to lower a bed can also reduce the risk of falls.
Side rails are a popular addition to many bed frames. They can help a client maximise their independence by moving or turning themselves using the railing for support. Mesh siderails are now available which significantly reduces the risk of entrapment and suffocation, particularly for young clients.
“Side rails come in a variety of sizes including short, three quarter length and long rails which run the full length of the bed,” Bonnie says.
Finally, Cubro Equipment Specialist Garry Stanners advises looking at the big picture when choosing a bed. “You want one that’s going to last the distance – is your client young and likely to grow? What will their needs be in five years’ time? You don’t want to choose a bed that will eventually be too narrow or too wide.”
It’s important to consider where the bed will be used and what daily routines need to occur such as physio sessions or daily cares. “Think about the physical space the bed is going into and how much room is needed for routines. If a lot of manual tasks need to be performed on the bed, you’ll want a good supportive surface to work from.”
Look for a bed that meets European safety standards and also consider what your client’s everyday needs are so you can make the right choice. If weight is an issue, then a reinforced bariatric bed is always a good idea.
Garry says super singles are the most popular option these days due to the extra space they provide. “They are often easier for caregivers too as there’s more room to use turning aids and sliding sheets to help manoeuvre a client.
“Healthcare beds have come a long way in the past few years and there’s a wide range of functionality now available.”