Hill Rom Hospital Bed Mattress Questions

I care for my 92 year old mother recently she had a fall down the stairs forgetting to use the stair lift, miraculously she ended up with heavy bruising with no breaks (maybe a non displaced fracture of the hip but not confirmed) she spent two weeks in hospital and returned home in a lot of pain unable to move in bed let alone get out so the extra care package put in place wasn’t enough and ended back in hospital in under 24 hours with a chest infection and low blood pressure. To ensure she has 24 hour care I managed to get her into a nearby care home until she can get out of bed, walk and use either the toilet or commode
. .
My daughter suggested we get her a hospital bed for several reasons;

I) As she becomes more infirm she can easily be put into a sit up position or her legs raised etc without manhandling her.

  1. The side rails will stop her having falls if she tries to get out of bed alone, there is always someone there to assist her though she feels she can still be independant whether or not she needs help which in many ways isn’t a bad thing if she can manage but she often gets confused and will try to get outside on the odd occasion.

  2. Easier to keep clean

A trip to the local disability shop didnt impress me over a £1000 for a bed with an MDF base and very flimsy construction a look on Ebay I picked up a Hill Rom Evolution Bed with two mattresses for a fraction of the price a solid bed that we struggled to get upstairs into the bedroom but its up and installed.

Now one mattress is just normal, the other is an air mattress designed as you know for pressure sores, when she is in hospital, she is always on an air mattress even though she hasn’t pressure sores and this is where the confusion sets in there seems to be two opinions on which mattress the nurse in hospital I asked says there isnt a problem being on an air mattress if you haven’t got pressure sores, then I have been told from another professional source that you shouldn’t have a patient without pressure sores on an air mattress.

Does anyone on here know which opinion is right

The professional source may be right. Can you advocate for her or not? Insist on the nurse and the professional source communicating with each other on this issue. Ask for your mom to be moved to the other mattress pronto. NICE have more information on pressure relieving devices worth reading. Discuss your concerns with the nurse. Speak up for your mom and do change nurses if you feel you cannot trust her. Can you get a community occupational therapist or the one at the hospital to offer you some helpful advice and tips?

Pressure ulcer prevention: pressure ulcer risk assessment and prevention, including the use of pressure-relieving devices (beds, mattresses and overlays) for the prevention of pressure ulcers in primary and secondary care | Guidance | NICE.

I don’t know for a fact which is right. I do know my 94 year-old mother did develop a bedsore in hospital whilst confined on regular mattress and no patient turning and was transferred to an air mattress afterwards. There is at least one assessment tool that is used in hospitals to evaluate how prone someone is to develop bed sores and they use this, in part, to decide what mattress is appropriate. Age, diabetes, robustness of skin, mobility, I think are some of the factors considered. The mattress she went home on was a sort of combination type, with air pockets. When inflated it was quite firm and supportive and the air pressure fluctuated over time in the various pockets in a very slow motion, rippled effect. My mum did not have any bone fractures though.

I don’t recall your saying how mobile your mother is or how long she stays in bed. Perhaps your mother’s GP or the community OT could advise?

Hi David,
If an elderly person, (thinner skin), spends a lot of time in one position then they are in great danger of developing pressure sores which are very painful and not easily healed.
I would think that an air mattress is to help prevent such sores, not just to aid when they have already developed.
Your Mum needs to be re-positioned often and her skin needs to be checked frequently and not just in obvious areas like her bottom but places you don’t even think of like ankles, heels, elbows, shoulder blades, even the back of her head. She needs to be checked head to toe regularly. (Daily). You have to be very vigilant.
There are other aids to help. You can find info online about how to spot early signs etc.
Have you got an Occupational Therapist involved? A lot of advice and practical aids come through them. My Mum was provided with an electrically operated hospital bed, free of charge, on loan for as long as she needed it, plus a lot more useful equipment. You do not have to buy these things, no matter how much money she or you have available.
Has your Mum got an air cushion if she sits on a chair?
I also recommend asking for a visit from a Continence Nurse. Your Mum won’t always be able to get to a commode or toilet in time.
Is your Mum in a Nursing Home at the moment? Does she tolerate it? If so, how do you feel about her continuing to live there so that she does get that 24 hour care?

Do NOT buy a hospital bed, these are available free on the NHS if required, as are any other aids needed, including an air mattress.
Because mum lived in Hampshire, but was taken to Royal Bournemouth Hospital in Dorset, against her wishes, when it was time for her discharge there were all sorts of muck ups. The air mattress arrived weeks after discharge, dumped in her hall, not fitted, so mum asked me to. I refused, sat at the GP surgery for an hour to wait for the DN. Finally, when the DN visited the mattress was the wrong one!! Then the right one came, but then the DN had to adjust it to suit mum’s weight and frailty.
The air mattress is to prevent bed sores, and can be used by a patient who has them. There are lines in the mattress, like a Lilo, that inflate and deflate alternately.

Very good advice from Elaine. The last thing your mother needs is a bedsore! My mum’s life was miserable with them, even though they were relatively small.

Thanks for all the replies and help just to clarify a few points
Prior to her fall my mother was mobile and on the whole continent and able to get to the toilet her incontinence came when she was unable to get out of bed due to the pain hopefully when the pain subsides she will return to normal.
I was offered an NHS bed the problem being that they wouldn’t take it upstairs and with the majority of the house open plan a bed downstairs wouldn’t be ideal she has a granny flat with onsuite bathroom tailored to her needs and a kitchenette so we decided to buy one and at £150 it hasn’t cost the earth and I can understand why they wouldn’t take it upstairs.
She has occupational therapists it was through them that I found out that they would provide a bed but wouldn’t take it upstairs.
At the moment she is in residential care in a very nice home entertainment everyday for 24hour care as this was the most practical option compared to two carers coming in four times a day, I have been told she is now getting out of bed and able to dress herself and take a few steps aided and can now use the commode with supervision as for staying in she doesn’t want to and doesn’t need to when she hasn’t been stair diving (now installed safety gates) the only time she needed care was for personal hygiene (having a bath etc) something I feel uncomfortable with being a male we have a carer who comes in twice a week and my daughter and grandaughter help when needed.
After scouring the internet I have just found out that the air mattress that came with the bed is for for the prevention, treatment and management of pressure ulcers so it seems that it is suitable to use.
Thanks everyone for all the input.

Very glad your mother is making good progress. Sounds positive. I appreciate the background you provided. It’s just not feasible to provide a complete description and we respond based on our experiences. It sounds like the bed is a very good find at that price and should help your mother in her own surroundings when she is ready to return home.

Not an answer as such but we have just taken delivery of an air mattress…not for pressure sores but for limited mobility and it removes pressure from the areas where she lies heavy. It’s early days but pillows have been removed from supporting her in bed as the mattress can move to the contours of her body…this makes it far more comfortable. I would have thought if someone was prone to pressures sores that the mattress not only helps with pressure sores but would act as contributing towards preventing them by relieving the pressure in the prone places.

I agree, indeed, hospital beds are very convenient for adult people and those, who cares poor walking patients

Just make sure you know what size they are before you agree to have one.

A standard hospital bed is 7’ 10" long and over 3’0" wide, if you have an air mattress on it as well, the pump for that usually hangs off the frame at the end of the bed increasing the length by a few more inches.

They are completely impractical in some situations.

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