The growing need for bariatric beds
Obesity continues to be one of the most important public health challenges facing the country. The prevalence of people classed as overweight or obese is above 70% among all age groups from 45 upwards1 and one in four British adults are now obese in older age. With obesity on the increase this trend is expected to continue to impact on care homes which are faced with finding ways to tackle the situation and assess how they can accommodate very overweight residents.
One of the reasons some care homes are struggling to deal with the increase in larger, older residents is because they are not equipped to cope. A recent survey2 of almost 3,000 care home owners, managers and staff found only 41 per cent of care home staff have the bariatric facilities to look after obese residents, with 12 per cent having to turn them away due to lack of resources and bariatric equipment.
Nanette Grant is associate vice president of Group Purchasing Organisation of HealthTrust Europe (HTE), a healthcare solutions partner. HTE operates as a bridge between healthcare providers and suppliers to provide a compliant route to sourcing high-quality bariatric beds which help provide quality care for patients. She said: “Everything we do is driven by the care and improvement of human life; our offering for these specialised items reflects the evolving needs of society and to help our customers continue to deliver high-quality patient care.”
As with many NHS Trusts, many care homes have an increased need for specialist bariatric equipment. Bariatric equipment cater for larger people and feature increased weight capacities, heavy duty supports and wider widths to fit their needs. For example, bariatric wheelchairs are designed to be stronger, sturdy, and larger to suit the needs of an obese person. Most equipment defined as bariatric has a 300-900-pound weight limit.
As the rate of obesity in the adult population is expected to rise to one in three in the next 10 years, combined with the UK’s ageing population1, accommodating obese residents will continue to be an issue that will need to be addressed. It is vital that the care sector can cater for the needs of bariatric residents and specialist beds are important pieces of equipment that are needed.
It is important for care home staff to use appropriate moving and handling techniques and equipment to protect the residents and themselves from harm or risk of injury, as well as maintaining residents’ dignity. Specialised bariatric beds can bring numerous benefits to care home staff and their residents by helping to address moving very overweight residents. Electrically operated profiling beds capable of raising, lowering and adjusting the position of bariatric patients without physical efforts from carers can help staff perform their care duties and reduce the risks of back injury. With standard care beds developed to manage safe working loads of up to 28 stone, specialist bariatric beds have been designed to handle patients weighing up to 50 stone safely and securely.
Specialist equipment can help prevent musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), including back pain, which are the most commonly reported cause of work-related ill health in the UK. Low back disorders account for 35% of all work-related MSD and therefore represent a significant workplace problem affecting employees, employers and national wellbeing3
Severely obese people are more likely to suffer from complex conditions such as cardiac disease, hypertension, respiratory disease and diabetes4. In addition, they often require specialist management of their skin as severely obese people have an increased risk of pressure ulcers, wounds and reduced prognosis for wound healing due to their immobility. By having mobility limited in a bed that is too small patients are more likely to suffer bed sores and other skin infections. Therefore, bariatric beds have been designed to offer features that make movement easier for both the patient and healthcare staff. Depending on the model, this may include electronic controls and removable side bars. In addition, the beds are wider so patients themselves can shift positions and ensure their own comfort while resting. Some models offer special mattresses with isolated air cushions that can be inflated and deflated to help move patients for treatment or their own comfort, helping to prevent pressure sores. The addition of antimicrobial fabric protection can further protect against the development of bacteria that can cause skin infections and discomfort.
In a society where convenience food of low nutritional value is easily accessible and quick to prepare it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet. This combined with modern sedentary lifestyles means the likelihood of homes needing to care for very overweight residents will continue to increase. The introduction of specialist bariatric beds and mattresses can help staff manage overweight residents, safeguard their own health by protecting their backs and help prevent further medical complications such as pressure sores.
Bariatric beds, mattresses and cushions can be purchased via a framework such as Pressure Area Care Equipment, Medical Beds and Related Services framework offered by healthcare solutions partner HealthTrust Europe. The framework provides a comprehensive range of products and services for use within long term care, home care/community and the acute care covering ad-hoc rental, long term rental, capital purchase and services such as decontamination, repair/maintenance, clinical support and disposal.