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News archive - September 2013

A ‘big’ problem

A ‘big’ problem

The number of people living in the UK who are classed as obese has trebled in the past two decades. Here we look at the problems this is causing for healthcare providers.

According to government statistics, 61% of adults and 30% of children aged between 2 and 15 are overweight or obese.

Not only does this have an obvious impact on their personal health and wellbeing, but it also presents challenges for those organisations, and the people, that deliver care services.

Prior to admission to hospital, for example, risk assessments need to be carried out and the special needs of these heavier and larger patients must be taken into consideration.

A few of the challenges include doors being wide enough to accommodate larger people, furniture being robust enough to support their weight, and hoists and other transfer equipment being available to avoid injury to staff when lifting or moving patients.

As a result of this growing problem, product manufacturers have begun to create specialist ranges aimed specifically at overweight - or bariatric as they are known - patients.

The items now available range from bath boards, commode chair, and chair raisers, to transfer boards, beds and mattresses, and hoists.

Suppliers use what is known as safe working loads (SWLs) to calculate the degree to which products need to be enhanced. These limits vary between different pieces of equipment.

1st Call, Benmor Medical, ENdynamics and Centrobed all have bariatric ranges, with Bristol Maid creating a dedicated website - www.bariatricequipmentdirect.com - to showcase its solutions. The range includes folding wheelchairs, commodes, patient seats and walking frames all designed to support 325kg - 51 stone.

Nightingale Bariatric Solutions is also targeting the increasing demand from hospital trusts and GP surgeries.

A spokesman said: “Patients coping with obesity often find performing everyday tasks nigh-on impossible, even going to the toilet and showering can prove problematic.

“Solutions like bariatric toilet and shower chairs have been designed with patient comfort and safety as top priorities and help to make bathroom visits hassle-free.”

The company also provides safety walking frames, bariatric chairs and hoists, among other things.

An NHS-approved supplier of bariatric equipment, Nightingale offers both sale and rental packages. It is rental solutions like these that are becoming popular among hospitals.

Not wanting to invest large sums of money in equipment that will only be used by a few patients on an irregular basis, commissioning organisations are instead looking to access the products they need when they need them.

The market has responded by offering delivery of specific products within typically around 6-8 hours. Many also have packages where hiring several pieces of equipment such as bed, commode, hoist, chair etc provides a more economic route. Cost will usually include delivery and installation and most companies have a minimum rental term.

NHS Supply Chain has a number of dedicated framework agreements through which trusts can procure specialist bariatric equipment.

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