Hospital Bed Guide

Hospital Beds for Mobility and Nursing – All You Need to Know


Hospital beds are designed to help care and enable mobility for persons who have limited independence, either in your own home or in a professional care facility. They help the user to sleep comfortably, get in and out of the bed with less/no assistance, and also keep the user safe when they are in the bed.

Hospital beds are also known as nursing beds, profiling beds, medical beds, height adjustable beds, care beds, care home beds and home care beds. They are used in hospitals, nursing homes, hospices and private homes.

What is a hospital bed and how does it work

Hospital beds are height adjustable, have a profiling base and often have side bars. Let’s take a look at each key feature:

Height adjustment

The height adjustment of the bed allows you to raise and lower the whole bed to make it easier for you to get in and out. High-low adjustment is also used for nursing, when raised to a carer’s waist level it means they do not have to stretch over the bed for on-the-bed nursing and dressing tasks. There are also low height beds which lower close to the floor to provide a safe sleeping height.

Profiling base

The profiling base of the bed lets you raise the backrest to sit up in bed and the raise the footrest for comfort. This is hugely beneficial when you spend a lot of time in bed as you can sit up to read and enjoy the surroundings around you.

Side bars

These beds also have side bars that prevent you from falling out. They are nearly always manually operated and are raised and lowered by a carer when you are inside the bed.

Nearly all hospital beds are controlled electrically through buttons on a handset but there are some, particularly older beds, that are operated manually. Manual gatch beds are not usually height adjustable and the profiling base is adjusted through manual turn handles.

The different types of hospital bed

Acute beds – Specialist care in hospital

Acute hospital beds are specialist medical beds designed for patients who require significant levels of nursing care. They are constructed to meet the demands of the hospital environment with an easy-clean, durable plastic surround and integrated patient monitoring systems. They also have a number of specialist adjustment functions which makes them extremely costly items of equipment.

Acute beds are highly mobile so that patients can be transported quickly in emergencies and with minimal disturbance. Typically the foot or head end of the bed has a control panel which allows hospital staff to make adjustments to the bed. Patients can also use the control panel to do things like call a nurse in the event of an emergency. The bed may also have drip stands (used for hanging bags of intravenous fluids) and integral storage for medical devices that are used to treat the patient.

Community beds – Care outside of hospital

A community hospital bed is much less sophisticated than its acute counterpart. They are designed for use within community care environments such as nursing homes, day centres and your own home. They are still height adjustable and they have a profiling base but these functions are much more simple and are not designed to meet complex care needs. Community beds are usually constructed from a metal frame that is enhanced in appearance by enclosing the metal framework with wooden head and foot boards. the side bars are also made from wood.

Community Hospital BedCommunity hospital beds are common in nursing homes where residents are dependent on carers and support for daily living. For example, the height adjustment function enables carers to bring the resident up to a height that is practical for nursing on the bed.

These beds are also used in private homes where relatives are looking after a loved one.