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The role of profiling beds in supporting independence

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Independence getting in and out of bed provides control over your daily routine, toileting, access to food or drink, or ability to act in the event of discomfort or emergency.  

Equally, being able to reposition yourself within bed is important for comfort, skin care, reaching things and managing many health conditions.  Selecting the correct bed is therefore very important and profiling beds can increase independence and comfort for those experiencing difficulty.

What are profiling beds?

Also known as hospital-, care- or adjustable-beds, profiling beds have motored sections that allow the position of the bed to be easily adjusted during use.  Simple changes via an electric handset enable users to alter the bed height, back rest and leg positions to make it easier to gain or to maintain a good position.  Carers can also make adjustments to improve their own comfort or to reduce the number of people needed to give assistance.

How do the parts of profiling beds help?

Profiling beds are available in two-part to four-part models and offer several adjustable functions.

Adjustable height allows the bed to be lowered or raised to the perfect height for the person and the task at hand.  The height can be matched to other equipment, such a wheelchair, or raised to the ideal height to stand from. Lowering the bed helps when shuffling further back onto the bed or lifting your legs into bed, and can also reduce the risk of injury in the event of a fall from bed.  Adjustable height can help independent transfers or can make it much easier and safer for another person to assist.

Adjustable backrests enable people to sit upright in bed at the touch of a button, increasing independence to reach things, read, watch television, rest in an upright position or prepare to get out of bed.  Maintaining an upright position also improves lung function and digestion, reducing the risk of some medical problems.

Adjustable leg rests enable you to raise your feet or knees independently.  Raising the knee section creates a ‘knee brake’ in the bed that helps reduce how much people slip down in bed, particularly if the backrest is elevated.  Elevating your feet also helps manage some medical conditions.

Many profiling beds can trendelenburg, which tilts the whole mattress towards the feet or the head of the bed.  This helps carers sliding someone up the bed or can be used along with the back and knee brake to create an even more upright chair-position, which some users are able to do themselves.  However, trendelenburg should be used with caution as it can adversely affect position, so always seek advice on using this feature yourself.

Most profiling beds have integrated side rails, however there are risks associated with side rails and they should never be used to restrict someone’s ability to get in and out of bed as they choose.  

Other accessories may be added to some profiling beds to maximise independence, but safety and compatibility with your bed should be carefully checked.

For all profiling beds it is also important to select the correct mattress, which impacts both pressure relief and the functions of the bed, and may cause a change in how you can move around the bed.

Profiling beds can enhance both independence and comfort for those with mobility problems or who need prolonged periods in bed.


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