My interest in the best hospital beds for home use was rather accidental and dramatic. I never figured out that I would ever have an interest in them until I worked as a volunteer in a hospice center. So let give me the story.
As a volunteering physiotherapist working with the invalids, cancer patients who were receiving palliative care and muscular dystrophy kids in a charity center, there was one thing that I always saw being ignored—the comfort and safety of the patients we were taking care of. They did not sleep on hospital beds but rather normal beds. You see, this was a cash-strapped charity center in the deep ends of Africa and the administrators felt that there were huge bills to be paid, food to be bought and salaries to be paid to the staff working in the center. So the patients had to do with normal beds until ‘good funding’ came by.
The end result was that patients always looked gloomy, felt uncared for and most died earlier than their time. Many mornings, we would pick some of them from the ground where they had fallen during the night as they tried to turn since the beds were not medical and lacked the rails. Others got pressure ulcers for bad positioning of their torso. At the same time, they got sore for sleeping for more than 18 hours in the same position without turning or being able to lift their heads.
Since I was just another volunteer in the institution, I felt that I did not stand a chance to correct the admins. Who would listen anyway? And so every morning, I was met by the tired look of patients who had not rested enough and felt harassed during their entire stay in the center. As I gave them their morning massage, they would complain of back pains while others even said that they had fallen in the night as they turned on their beds.
I would have continued keeping mum until one day, a 12 year old boy called Martin who was suffering from muscular dystrophy steeled himself and said, “I only have about 8 years to live, can’t you tell the administrators to see how they can get me a good adjustable hospital bed. Let me sleep well in the next few years I have to live”. The words teared me up. I had to do something.
So, I approached the administrators running the center and told them that we really had to do something about the patients’ beds. In reply, the admin was surprised that there are actually some medical beds meant for such people. He told me to go ahead and guide them on selecting the best types of hospital beds for home use. I felt foolish for having kept quiet for such a long time and seeing the patients suffer so much.
Because of this, I resolved that I will do my best to advise as many people as I can reach on getting medical beds for their patients whether they are in the hospital, hospice, elderly care centers or at home. This is why I started this blog.
Anyway, away from the chatter, let me teach you on how to choose your medical beds as well as enlist the different types of hospital beds available in the market.
Types of hospital beds for home use
Medical beds can be categorized in two different ways: One is how they operate while the other is the purpose they are meant for.
Categorizing according to mode of operation
We have four types of beds which are:
As the name suggests, this type of bed is manually operated. As the caregiver, you have to be near the patient all the time to see that their needs are met i.e. you will have to manually tilt them if they want to watch the telly, eat or take medicine. In other words, the head, foot and the height are manually adjusted using the hand cranks at the foot.
While this type of bed is cheap and is still able to give the patient an anatomically correct posture, it is not the most recommended since it ties you to the patient room all the time. The patient also feels like a bother to you since you cannot move away from them and they have to constantly call you to tilt or turn them.
If you cannot afford any other hospital bed though, go for this type but be ready to bear the burden of being called every time the patient needs something.
The semi electric medical bed has a noiseless motor that adjusts the head and foot positions. The height of the bed though has to be manually adjusted. This makes the semi-electric bed a little bit better as compared to the semi-electric one since the patient can adjust their head and foot positions without much help. You only assist when they want to adjust the height.
For the fully electric medical bed, everything adjusts seamlessly powered by a noiseless motor. The patient can therefore easily adjust the height, head and foot positions by the simple touch of a button.
Based on purposes, here are the categories:
Rehabilitative care beds
Rehabilitative beds are designed for patients who are on the way to recovery—they are on a rehabilitation path. After an orthopedic surgery and discharge from the hospital, the patient is not strong enough to sleep on a normal bed. They also need to rest for long before they can go back to their daily activities. It is ideal for those who are still undergoing IV therapy and post-surgical patients. This type of bed will be found in a rehabilitative center where you will be under the care of a physiotherapist to oversee that you gain back your muscular and bone functions.
This medical bed serves different purposes as per the specific needs of the patient. There is for example the pediatric bed, intensive care and hemodialysis patients
Pediatric bed is for kids under 18. It is therefore smaller in size as compared to the adult hospital bed.
Intensive care beds are meant for patients with life threatening conditions who need specialized and ample care. It will be highly motorized to allow for procedures such as CPR and Trendelenburg.
Hemodialysis patients: patients who have kidney problems require constant dialysis treatment. Their specialty bed is also highly motorized so as to allow for dialysis as well as give the patient comfort.
How to choose the best hospital bed for hospital or home use
In getting the best hospital bed for hospital or home use, you need to make sure that the bed has the following:
Is Electric over manual bed
With a manual bed, the caregiver has to from time to time come adjust the bed tilt as per the needs of the patient. For the Electric bed on the other hand, all that needs not happen. The bed can be adjusted using a handheld control and therefore it is easy to use. What’s more, if the patient still has a good grip of the handheld control, they will be able to adjust the bed height and tilt on their own without calling out for help. This is a plus for the patients since they might at times feel that they are helpless and have to torment others anytime they wish to do anything.
The wheels which are also known as casters are important for moving the bed along. Since the patient might be too heavy to lift or even move, hospital beds come fitted with durable, easy to move wheels.
Elevation angle of the head
Unlike normal beds that are flat, this type of bed need to be slightly elevated on the head for the patient’s comfort as they eat, talk or watch television. The elevation also makes it easier for the caregiver to easily interact with the patient, clean them, check their vitals, give them food, medicine or even talk with them.
Tilting to 15-30% so that the patient is comfy while lying on the bed. The tilting also ensures that the patient does not get pressure ulcers. It is also good for the caregiver since they will not have to bend so low while taking care of the patient.
Bed exit alarm
Your hospital bed needs to have a bed exit alarm. The bed exit alarm is usually fitted on the mattress or beneath the body frame. The alarm always gives a beep when the patient rises from the bed. This is important so that the caregiver can know when a patient falls or loiters away from the bed unsupervised.
If the patient were to need CPR function, the bed must in a way that it can be easily flattened for this function to be done.
Specialist beds depending on the need of your patient: e.g. turning beds, standing beds and legacy beds.
Leather Macintosh for wetting. If emptying bowel, you may need the bed to have a hollow part
The elevation angle and tilting of the bed body has its own demerits in that over time, the patient’s spine gets rounded or curved due to the pressure exerted by the upper part of the body. To avoid this rounding of the spine, manufacturers have devised an anti-slip effect such that the patient can watch telly, eat or talk in a slightly upright position without hurting their spine.
Side rails on the sides of the bed make the patient feel more secure and throw away the fear that they might fall in their sleep.
A heavy, easy to wash leather Macintosh
For invalids or muscular dystrophy patients who might not be able to wake up to empty their bladder, an easy to wash Macintosh is necessary so that even if they wet their beds, all you have to do is clean it up.
Cheapest Manual Hospital beds in 2018
Found in hospitals and also homes, the manual adjustable bed is cost friendly and helps with the ergonomics of the patient. It works on a manual mechanism where you have to adjust the height, head and foot positions using the crank. The manual medical bed is ideal for that rehabilitative patient whose mobility has not been fully affected and they can adjust the bed on their own or rather the caregiver has the time to adjust the bed for the patient.
It is also ideal when you have a small budget. The manual bed can either have full or half rails depending on the security needs of your patient. If they are likely to fall in their sleep, go for the full rails option. At a slightly lower cost is the half rails which would be ideal if the patient is not likely to fall in their sleep.
Below here, we look at the top manufacturers of the manual medical bed and discuss why whether you need to buy from them, features of each of the beds as well as the pros and cons.
Invacare Manual bed 5307IVC with innerspring and full rails
Though based on a manual mechanism, the bed has same convenient features as the electric bed. The cranks will raise and lower the patient’s body such that you can achieve a trendenberg or even the reverse trendenberg position with ease.
It can accommodate a weight capacity of upto 450lbs and as such you need not worry even if you have a heavy patient.
The bed is easy to clean up and as such the patient will be happy to lie on a comfortable clean bed as they recuperate.
It has full rails shipped with it so that you the patient will feel safe and secure even when you are away. The full rails are also a must if your patient has the tendency to want to rise and go out without supervision or is a sleep walker and you fear that they might fall in their sleep walk or unsupervised loitering.
However, there are still other designs that come with half rails, of course at a lower cost. You just need to choose what you want.
Has a 15” to 23” bed height.
The sleep surface measures 80” in length and 36” in width.
Drive medical manual hospital bed, brown 36”
The drive medical manual bed comes with hand cranks at the foot of the bed which you use to adjust the height, foot and head positions of the patient. Once you are done adjusting, you can tuck them in and this is a huge plus since it prevents injuries and hurts lest someone passes near the foot of the bed and stumbles on them.
It has a zinc coated spring deck for durability which can neither be twisted or bended.
The actual weight of the bed is 165lbs which is not so much and as such you will be able to lift and carry the delivery boxes when they arrive.
The bed height once installed with casters can go up to 24.5”
The sleeping area measures 89” by 34.88”
Drive Medical Multi Height Manual Hospital Bed with Half Rails & Innerspring Mattress
Another one the from Drive Medical manufacturer, this bed works best with an innerspring mattress. It comes with half rails and is ideal if you are on a low budget but want your patient to sleep in an anatomically good position.
The cranks can be folded to avoid possible injury on either you or the patient
The product measures 190.9 x 59.7 x 113.8 inches
It weighs 214 pounds
Has a zinc coated spring deck
Top Semi Electric Medical Beds
Lets say that the patient is semi-mobile and can adjust the height of the bed using the hand crank or that maybe you are short of cash to go for the full electric beds, then the semi-electric bed is someone worth looking out for.
It comes with a manually adjustable bed height as well as pendant control to change the foot and head position automatically.
Drive Medical Semi Electric Hospital Bed Mattress, Full Rails
Fitted with full rails, a smooth, quietly operating motor, this type of bed is easy to set up.
Its dimensions measures 136.4 x 39 x 77.7 inches
Weighs 211 pounds
Just like all Drive medical products, it has a zinc coat on the deck
Best Electric Medical Bed
In choosing an electric bed, you are choosing comfort over price. It could also be that your patient has limited mobility and as such, they are not able to adjust the cranks. So, let’s look at the best electric hospital beds.
Full Electric Hospital Bed Package (Invacare Full Electric Home Hospital Bed Package w/Foam Mattress, Half Rail Set)
The best present that you can give to an immobile patient is the full electric invacare bed that comes with a soft hugging foam mattress and a half rail set lest they fall in their dreams. If you have a kid suffering from muscular dystrophy, this is the best thing you can get them. Other than comfort for the patient, the bed is also great in that it allows you time to carry out other household chores other than spend time adjusting manual cranks and checking that they do not hurt anyone. At the touch of a button, the bed adjusts the height or even change the head and foot position with ease so that the patient can watch telly or even sleep flat for a CPR.
With the mattress, the minimum height it can go to is 21″ and a maximum of 28″
Can support a weight capacity of upto 450lbs
Has a sleep surface of 80″ (L) x 36″ (W)
Comes with rubber casters that leave no trail.
Quiet motor operation
Drive Medical Full Electric Ultra Light Plus Hospital Bed, Brown, 36″
The drive medical full electric bed comes with a noiseless motor that can be installed even when the patient is lying on the bed. In the case of a power failure, the motor can continue working to lower the head and foot for nine times before its inbuilt battery dies.
It has a half rail for security
Has a zinc coated deck
Interchangeable head and foot boards
Hand pendant connected to the bed for automatic adjustment by a press of the button
Has 88.5 x 35.8 x 35.8 inches dimension
Weighs 162 pounds
Wrap Up of the types of medical beds for your patient
Despite costs being a hindrance, the ideal bed would be full electric. This gives the patient comfort and they feel indeed loved and cared for that you could have spent the money on other projects but you decided to forego all that so that they may feel safe, loved and somehow independent.
The manual bed is great when you are on a low budget and have all the time to be around the patient.
The semi electric bed is the middle guy who combines the advantage of the two.
Tips for choosing the best hospital bed mattress
To have absolute comfort of the medical bed, you will need the best hospital bed mattress that has the following factors:
Strong and durable
Patient care is an expensive project. You want a mattress that is worth the money and will last for a long time. Unlike normal mattresses, the hospital bed mattress needs be very strong since the patient will be sleeping on it all the time; both during the day and at night.
Unlike the normal mattress, the hospital bed mattress should be in such a way that it is able to conform to the adjustable hospital bed. It should be easily flexed when you adjust the foot or head of the medical bed.
The mattress should be able to withstand high capacity. Innerspring mattresses can support a weight up to 113 kgs while foam mattresses support from 125 to 181 kgs.
The bed should have anti-slip control to prevent bed sores and curving of the back.
Some patients are not able to control their bladder and will wet their mattresses. Therefore, you will need to have one that is waterproof with a macintosh like upper surface so that it does not soak.
The last thing you want is to have your mattress infecting your patient with communicable diseases. The bed should therefore be anti-bacterial
Physiotherapists recommend overlays that are theraupetic and offer comfortable sleep to the patient.
Top Mattresses for hospital beds
#1.Invacare Innerspring mattress
After having bought the Invacare electric bed and having loved it, I had a bias while choosing the mattress. I wanted to lay my fingers on the mattress and touch it, feel it and try it on one of the patient’s bed. And well, the Invacare mattress did not disappoint.
The mattress measures 80”x 36” x 6”
The mattress is anti-bacterial, anti-static and acid resistant
Very durable. Have been using it for the last 2 years. No complaint
Has a waterproof cover. I have a patient who suffers from a bladder problem and the waterproof cover is just great since it does not soak
Flexible and does not crack with the adjustment of the hospital bed.
Anti-bacterial—wouldn’t want one that would easily spread diseases, would you?
Comfortable to the patients as it relieves bed sores.
Just wished that Invacare would have lowered the price after buying the bed.
#2.Drive Medical Quick’n Easy Comfort Mattress
Another popular hospital bed manufacturer, Drive Medical, also makes custom mattress to add comfort to your bed.
The mattress measures 36”x80”x6” to fit perfectly into your bed
Has a waterproof nylon cover just in case you have a bed wetting problem
Very flexible and fit well with the adjustable bed.
Waterproof cover so that the mattress does not soak in case a patient wets the bed or liquid spills on the mattress.
The mattress decompressed easily and I was able to immediately use it after shipping.
The mattress core is made with polyurethane foam and is therefore comfortable. Despite the rubber composition, it is not allergic.
Safety of Patient While Sleeping
One thing that I often see being ignored when home care givers are buying hospital beds is the safety of the patient from entrapment. Though studies after studies have been done by the FDA on how dangerous and fatal entrapment can get, I still see caregivers ignoring all these recommendations and going ahead to buy medical beds that put the life of the patient at peril.
To avoid this, I will enlist some of the most important accessories that you need so that your patient does not get entraped.
- Bed bumpers
Bed bumpers are installed to protect the patient from falling over in their sleep. Other than seniors, they are also great for kids who are graduating from the baby cot.
Other than keeping the invalid from falls, bed bumpers for adults also protect them from getting entrapped between the edge of the mattress and the under rails.
- Padded bed rails
Safety bed rails for seniors have been in vogue for a long time. Though they protect the patient from falls, I have seen them causing entrapment as well as injure patients with seizures. To avoid this, you can get padded rails with seizure precautions.
- Mattress Extenders
The last in my list are mattress extenders which other than protecting patient from entrapment also make the bed longer so that even tall patients can sleep on it. The mattress extender block is placed in such a way that it fits snugly with the mattress giving you an uniform level to sleep on.