1. Risk of developing ulcers
The right type of mattress for a patient depends on their risk level for bed sores. This is determined by assessment tools such as the Braden or Norton scales. The Braden Scale is the most common scale used in the U.S.
Before purchasing a mattress for a medical bed, consult an expert to determine the risk level of the patient for bed sores. The less mobile/longer you spend in bed, the more likely you are to develop bed sores; selecting a treatment mattress that can prevent bed sores is key. Foam prevention mattresses are best for users at low risk of developing pressure ulcers.
2. Setting of use
Prevention mattresses are designed for home care settings. Treatment mattresses are designed for institutional settings including long-term care.
3. Duration of use
For longer term use, it is more important to choose a high-quality treatment mattress. Besides the type of surface, it is also important to research reputable brands. Silver Cross recommends Span, specialists in long-term care.
4. Consider the user
Make sure to look for a mattress that can accommodate the user’s weight. There are bariatric mattresses available for capacities up to 500 lb and some options available for capacities up to 1000 lb. It is important to make sure the capacity will accommodate not just the user, but the bed linens, topper/overlay, and anything else that will sit on top of the bed. Bariatric patients may want to consider a mattress with lateral rotation for more frequent repositioning to reduce pressure.
A patient that sweats excessively may want to consider a low air loss mattress.
It is also important to consider the mattress dimensions to make sure they will be able to accommodate the user. Many mattresses are available to order in wider dimensions, and some come with a length extender for taller users as well.
5. Consider the bed frame
It is important to make sure your chosen bed frame is compatible with the mattress. For instance, the Invacare Etude HC is a homecare bed suitable for use with any mattress, whereas the Drive Delta Ultra-Light is a homecare bed that is not suitable for use with air mattresses. Your local provider can suggest which bed frame to purchase for the right type of mattress for you.
You must consider dimensions and weight capacity when selecting a mattress and bed frame together.
Typically, medical beds measure around 36″ x 80″. Depending on the model, they may be available for dimensions anywhere from 32-60″ x 75-84″. Some bed frames come with built-in or optional extenders. These features are important to identify before purchasing.
You should check if the bed frame can support the mattress weight capacity when combined with the user’s weight, bed linens, topper/overlay, and anything else that will sit on top of the bed.
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