News - March 2019
A lot of design expertise goes into the creation of modern hospital beds – from both a patient safety and a staff safety point of view.
But it’s not only the bed frame that needs to be considered.
Increasingly, the market is seeing a plethora of innovative new mattress systems, which are addressing a very-real problem facing hospitals and care facilities up and down the country – pressure ulcers.
Estimated to occur in in 4-10% of all patients admitted to acute hospitals in the UK – more than 700,000 people a year – demographic factors such as age and obesity continue to contribute to this challenge.
A false economy
Mike Hutson, managing director of Rober, told hdm: “Pressure ulcers are linked to prolonged hospitalisation, pain, social isolation, and, in the worst cases, death, which is why it is so important that patients, especially the elderly who may be bed bound or immobile, are treated on the most-appropriate mattress. It is also the reason why the prevention of ulcers is such a key driver for hospitals globally.”
Nursing a patient on the wrong type of mattress for their needs is ultimately how pressure ulcers are caused, he added.
“Less-innovative solutions may be attractive for cost reasons, but in the long term they will no doubt cost the hospital more money and are, therefore, a false economy,” he warns.
Mattresses contribute to the prevalence of pressure ulcers in a number of ways.
For example, some products rely on someone setting the patient weight manually.
Hutson said: “To relieve pressure on heel areas, for example, a cell can be manually deflated. However, in the busy nursing environment staff can forget to re-inflate it and this can cause pressure ulcers.
Rober’s design team has overcome this through the use of vacuum-assist technology which provides continual ‘zero pressure’ without the need for manual adjustment by staff.
The right support
And its NoDec Total Heel Protection (THP) further improves pressure relief, with a particular focus on the heel section, a key area for ulcers to develop.
“It is estimated that 80-95% of pressure ulcers are avoidable with the right support mattress and educational programmes, training and campaigns, ” said Hutson.
Modern solutions work in a variety of ways, but predominately use air and innovative materials to reduce the pressure between the mattress and the patient’s body.
Hutson said: “Our technology creates a wave-like ripple effect that is specifically designed to replicate the body’s natural movements.
“This provides regular and complete pressure elimination to all parts of the body that come into contact with the mattress, preventing pressure injuries from developing, as well as promoting the healing of established ulcers.”
There are four key focus areas for furniture specifiers when choosing new healthcare mattresses, and these are driving design. They are microclimate control, patient safety and comfort, maximising infection control, and offering additional nursing support.
“We believe modern ‘zero pressure’ mattresses offer the best solution for hospitals,” said Hutson.
“They are fully automatic and patients nursed on them require less manual repositioning.
“And they can offer additional features such as a touchscreen display panels, comfort settings, timed static modes, audible and visual alarms, and permanently-inflated side formers.”
Hill-Rom is another company at the forefront of mattress design.
Working in partnership with Select Medical it recently launched the Flexi by Pure Air Advanced Crossover mattress.
It combines premium-density Visco memory foam technology with a proven figure-of-eight cell design to combat pressure ulcers.
The step-up, step-down surface is designed to deliver effective pressure redistribution and comfort in static, dynamic and constant low-pressure therapy modes, appropriate to varying needs.
Gavin Richards, marketing director of Hill-Rom UK, said: “Hill-Rom has for a long-time been committed to helping caregivers reduce facility-acquired pressure ulcers.
“Our unique, evidence-based surface technologies help clinicians in both hospitals and care home settings to reach a better outcome for patients.
“And the introduction of the Flexi Pure Air mattress reinforces our commitment to driving real change within this important area of healthcare.”
And Renray Healthcare last year won the Building Better Healthcare Award for Furniture and Fixtures for its Noodles Technology Mattress, which sees a move away from powered mattress technology.
It is also the first static support surface that can be fully decontaminated; so eradicating the need to dispose of contaminated foam mattresses.
And its unique open-cell construction and clinically-body-zoned sections provide first-level defence against pressure injuries.
A spokeswoman at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which trialled the mattress said: “This offers a unique non-powered technology for pressure reduction suitable for our high-risk patients who traditionally have been nursed on a dynamic systems, but who often found this to be uncomfortable.
“We have also looked at the time savings made by staff in accessing effective pressure reduction for their patients, and they have noted a significant time saving in comparison to their usual practice.”
Where capital funding for outright purchase of the very-latest designs is scarce, Hutson advises looking into modern financing options such as rental, leasing, and management contracts, which are proving popular with hospitals around the country.