Hospital beds contain many features you wouldn’t usually expect to find on a bed in someone’s home. After all, hospital beds are designed for safety and to facilitate medical treatment. Whereas style and comfort are the key features most of us look for when choosing a new bed for our own bedroom.
However, there are occasions where hospital-style beds are required for home use. People with long-term health conditions, individuals recently discharged from hospital, and those who choose to receive palliative care at home rather than in a hospice can all require more support and functionality than a standard bed offers.
In this guide, we explain how to choose a care bed to use at home and provide some examples of the best hospital beds for home care.
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In the UK, anyone can buy a hospital-style bed to use at home. You don’t need a prescription or a recommendation from a doctor.
However, hospital beds come in all kinds of sizes, makes, and models. There’s no one set standard – different types of bed exist to suit different patient needs.
So, if you think you or a relative would benefit from having a hospital bed at home, we recommend speaking to a professional. They can make sure you get a bed that meets your care requirements.
There are two main ways to access professional advice on hospital beds for home:
You may be eligible to have a bed provided by the NHS or local authority.
Speak to a member of your primary care team. They will be able to request a hospital bed on your behalf, if they think it will support continued care and rehabilitation at home.
This is a good method for people who have just come out of hospital or who already receive ongoing treatment from an OT. The cost of the bed will be covered for you. Plus, if you only need a hospital bed temporarily, they can supply one from an equipment loan store.
One downside is you may have to wait a while to receive your bed. Going through the application processes can take a long time.
You also won’t get much say on the bed’s appearance. Hospital beds supplied through social care services are often bulkier and more clinical looking than models you can buy yourself.
For many people, buying a hospital bed direct from a healthcare supplier is the best way to support at-home care.
We recommend going directly to a supplier if:
A good care bed supplier will talk to you about your challenges and where you need support to recommend a bed that meets your requirements. They may even be able to help you get funding from charities!
At Yorkshire Care Equipment, we’ve been supplying hospital beds to private individuals and occupational therapists for many years. If you’re looking to buy a bed for home care, please contact us. One of our specialist advisors will be happy to discuss the options and find the right hospital bed for your home.
If you’re going to apply for a bed through the NHS or your local authority, then you don’t need to worry about the features. They will make sure the chosen hospital bed has everything you need.
However, if you’re going to buy your own bed, here are a few tips to help you feel more confident before you go to a supplier.
Whichever type of hospital bed you choose, there are some features which are must-haves for home care beds:
Most people who require a specialist bed at home have to spend a lot of time in bed.
A profiling bed can be adjusted and repositioned to provide better support and comfort. This helps to prevent friction and pressure ulcers as they don’t have to lie in the same position all day.
The backrest can even be lifted to allow someone to sit up properly without having to be transferred into a chair.
You can learn more about how profiling works in our Guide to Profiling Beds.
Whether the user will operate the bed themselves, or they require help from a carer, any hospital bed used in a home setting must have simple, easy to use controls.
Most suppliers will provide some training when they deliver and set up your bed. They should also have a user manual you can refer to if you have any problems.
But you really want equipment that will be used on every day to feel intuitive! Look out for:
The following features are included on most hospital beds in a clinical care setting, but won’t necessarily be needed in a home setting.
Before choosing a hospital-style bed, you should consider whether these features will support home care for the user. If they aren’t required, then you may be better choosing a more traditional style care bed which looks and feels more homely.
Hospital-style beds are height-adjustable. On a hospital ward, this is very beneficial as it allows different members of staff to adjust the bed to a height that suits them when giving treatment. This reduces their risk of back strain and other injuries.
In a home setting, this can still be extremely beneficial for carers. However, if the same person always provides bedside care they may not feel they need adjustability.
Height-adjustable beds are also great for anyone who self-transfers from their bed to a chair. The bed can be set to the correct height to make this as easy as possible.
If someone is at risk of falling, a height-adjustable bed can also be lowered during the night. This minimises the risk of injury whilst allowing the bed to be returned to a standard height during the day. A person can see around the room and interact more easily if their bed isn’t permanently lowered.
So, there are clear benefits to height-adjustable beds for home use, but they won’t apply for everyone. If you decide you don’t need height-adjustment, a divan style profiling bed may be a better option.
Siderails are widely used in hospitals and care homes to protect people at risk of falling out of bed.
When choosing a hospital bed to use at home, people often worry that siderails are too restrictive or that the user might hurt themselves.
It is true that there are some risks associated with using siderails. However, when used properly siderails are a safe option.
You should always consider alternative fall safety measures first. For example, lowering the bed to minimise injury. Plus you should think about any additional precautions you can take to enhance safety. For example, adding bed bumpers provides padding which helps prevent injury or entrapment.
Siderails should be avoided for anyone who is at risk of trying to climb over.
This is often a problem for people with dementia. Adding siderails can make them feel enclosed, causing distress and confusion which leads to them trying to get up and potentially hurting themselves.
If you’re ever unsure whether siderails are appropriate for someone, please contact a healthcare professional who can help you to perform a risk assessment.