Helping clients choose the right bed for their needs is a key decision that occupational therapists regularly face.

Comfort, function and safety are all primary considerations.

The bed should ideally maximise a person’s functional ability and their independence. Being able to get in and out of bed safely, or assist with their own daily self-care and dressing needs, goes a long way to improving someone’s quality of life and sense of self-worth.

You also want a bed that’s going to last the distance – is the client young and likely to continue growing? What will their needs be in five years’ time?

Practical concerns including the size of the room, access to electricity and the client’s social environment need to be taken into account. If there are young children or pets about, having a bed that can lower to the ground might prove to be more of a hazard than a help.

Of course you’ll need to assess the width, height and weight of the person concerned when deciding what size bed to recommend. Are their head and toes nearly touching each end?

Also consider how mobile they are. Are they able to change position on their own, in which case how much room will they physically have? Many people feel ‘unsafe’ rolling from side to side in a single bed, fearing they might fall off. And if side rails are available, it can be distressing to get stuck in a position where the rail is right in front of your face.

If weight is an issue, than a reinforced bariatric bed is a good idea.

Choosing the right size bed is important and ‘super singles’ are becoming increasingly popular due to the extra space they provide.

Super singles are often easier for caregivers too – there’s more room to use turning aids and sliding sheets to help maneuver an individual.

The Bock Practico Ultra Low Slimline 4-section electric bed is Ministry of Health approved and is a popular super single option thanks to its smart technology and range of useful add-ons.

It offers Trendelenburg (feet higher) and Reverse Trendelenburg (head higher) functions which are a huge advantage for clients who are bed-bound. These adjustments can be used to help treat respiratory conditions, edema, high blood pressure in spinal cord patients and is a good pain management tool in palliative care situations. It’s also extremely useful when wanting to be in an upright position (to socialize, for example), and can help avoid pressure in the sacral area.

The Practico super single has a ‘mattress compensation’ function so when the head of the bed is raised, it also moves back slightly which helps prevent people from sliding down the mattress and shear injuries from occurring.

This ‘Ultra Low’ bed can drop down to 250mm off the ground and rise as high as 800mm. This makes transfers in and out of bed easier, and can help with everyday tasks such as changing sheets and making the bed.

Fold down rails and drop down rails are both available on this model – and are another important aspect to consider. What kind of side supports does your client need? Is breathable mesh a safer option if they’re likely to roll close to the rail or get stuck?

Look for a bed that meets European safety standards and where the knee break function can be disabled for paediatric clients to prevent entrapment issues.

Bock’s Practico model can also be fitted with a companion bed for parents who wish to co-sleep with their child or for adults who want to sleep beside their partner or spouse.

In summary, it’s important to focus not only on the size of the individual, but what their everyday needs are when choosing a bed.

If you can obtain the best functionality possible, and a bed that’s suitable for their environment, you can greatly enhance your client’s quality of life.