Thinking about a Hospital Bed?
Are you considering replacing your elderly loved one’s bed with a hospital bed? There are advantages and some disadvantages to using a hospital bed at home.
First, why would the patient need a hospital bed instead of a standard bed? I heard about an elderly man who was wheelchair dependent, and when he transferred from his wheelchair to his old twin bed, he would slip and fall off the edge and onto the floor. His family members, who did not live with him, were puzzled about how to prevent this from happening.
There are several solutions to this problem. Perhaps he needs an occupational therapist to teach him how to safely transfer from wheelchair to bed. Perhaps he needs to make sure that his bed is at the proper height for transfer from his chair. Perhaps he needs a newer, firmer mattress that won’t buckle under him and allow him to slip. Maybe he could use a bed rail to hold onto as he slides onto the mattress.
A hospital bed might be a good solution for this man and for anyone who has trouble getting into bed or out of bed without slipping and sliding out. Hospital beds can be lowered or raised according to the person’s height. There are bedrails on both sides. Each bedrail can be lowered or raised, or removed as needed. The head of the bed can be raised to assist the patient in sitting up and in getting to the side of the bed to stand up. The head of the bed can be lowered when the patient is settled and ready to rest. The bed is on wheels so it can be positioned and moved around the room and around the house.
The wheels will lock, so the bed will not move. Patients who have difficulty sitting up can have a trapeze bar hung above to help them lift and position themselves. There are also trapeze stands that can help the user transfer from the bed to a standing position.
A semi-electric bed is helpful to the patient in positioning of the upper body and knees because it bends at the waist and knees. The bed height is easily adjusted with a manual crank. A pendant button control provides motorized positioning of the upper body and/or knees. Full-electric beds can make the same adjustments as semi-electric ones, but allow users to raise and lower the height of the bed with the push of a button. This is much easier to use for caregivers than a manual bed. A manual bed is adjusted by three hand cranks at the foot of the bed.
There are a variety of mattresses types available for hospital beds. Most are made of high density foam and have durable vinyl covers. They are antibacterial, anti-static, acid-resistant and waterproof for easy use and care. There are bariatric mattresses that can be used by patients up to 500 pounds and come in extra wide sizes Some mattresses for homecare use in a hospital bed are mattresses with springs inside, similar to the standard home mattresses. There are gel mattress overlays which cover the mattress and add to the comfort of the patient.
What are the disadvantages of a hospital bed? It looks like a hospital bed, and some people may not like adjusting to a hospital-look in their home. There are now varieties of colors available, however. It does take a lot of room to accommodate. Most hospital beds are the size of twin beds, but the patient and the caregiver need to be able to move around them also. The bariatric beds are longer and wider than others, generally 42 or 48 inches in width.
There must be access to a grounded electrical outlet for a semi-electric or full-electric bed. It is best to find one good area for the bed and keep it there with the wheels kept locked. Finally, if you use a manual bed, then the caregiver must use hand cranks to make adjustments, and this could be difficult for caregivers who have knee or back problems or who lack strength.
Hospital beds for home use can be purchased or rented, or they can be obtained through Medicare. Recently, patients are finding that Medicare is denying claims for hospital beds unless the patient has a face to face meeting with the prescribing physician. Medicare will only cover the cost of the bed if your doctors and bed suppliers are enrolled in Medicare. If your doctors or suppliers aren’t enrolled, Medicare won’t pay the claims submitted by them. So, it’s also important to ask your suppliers if they participate in Medicare. If suppliers are participating suppliers, they must accept assignment. If suppliers are enrolled in Medicare but aren’t “participating,” they may choose not to accept assignment. If suppliers don’t accept assignment, there’s no limit on the amount they can charge the patient.
Does your loved one need a hospital bed at home? If he is returning home after surgery or a long illness, then he may need one temporarily. If he is having difficulty with using a standard bed safely, when sleeping, positioning, or transferring to the bed, then using a hospital bed instead can provide a safer way to sleep. If the caregiver is having difficulty caring for a patient in bed, the ability to raise and lower the bed, can be a back-saving advantage.
Consider your situation and the advantages a hospital bed may provide to both of you.