The COVID-19 Pandemic has thrown up a series of problems. The general public are now more careful than ever when it comes to hygiene and safety, especially when it comes to the older and more at-risk members of our families.
These people have suffered more than most, long periods of isolation due to heightened risks and the hugely unfortunate deaths in nursing homes around the country during the crisis led to people exploring the options of at-home care as opposed to entering into a care facility.
So, what’s the solution? More and more people are opting to change approach and kit out their homes with medical-grade equipment such as electric beds for the elderly, hoists and hospital beds. We spoke to experts from Ireland and around the world about some of the benefits of home care.
“Across the board, there has been an increase in enquiries for homecare. People’s focus is to get loved one’s home especially if they have had a stay in hospital, are living alone, or just need that support to remain at home” notes Edel Hill, Clinical Nurse Manager Lead at myhomecare.ie.
Kyra Snell, founder of Care About, stated that “we’ve seen more Home Care inquiries in the first 4 months of 2021 than we’ve seen all of 2019”. There is a huge apprehension amongst the general public to not put their extended families at risk.
“During the pandemic, we saw an increase in demand for our services as more families with a family member who had a compromised immune system sought to bring early childhood education and disability support into the home instead of accessing centre-based childcare to reduce the risk of bringing infection into the home. For adults and children alike, we see great opportunities for services like ours to build capacity in their family and carers to meet their needs at home” notes Andrea Christie-David, Managing Director of Leor, Specialists in at-home care for children.
The Right Tools
It’s hugely important, therefore, that if you decide against placing a family member of yours in a care facility that you have the right tools, medical equipment and time to adequately serve them, for example, a hospital-grade air mattress, an air cushion or hoists. If you do not, it can lead to potential issues down the line, both for you and your family in a mental and physical mindset.
Clinical Psychologist Dr Kirsten Hunter notes “Since the Covid Pandemic, I have seen a pattern of families holding back from organising for their loved one to go into care as they fear that they will have difficulties accessing them with Covid restrictions. This has resulted in families experiencing extended periods of strain and stress when perhaps their capacity to care for their loved one is getting beyond their physical and psychological capacity. This is another face to the Covid situation; families fearful of losing access to their loved ones in need of more intensive care arrangements.”
Benefits of Home Care & Medical Beds
At-home care can be a huge task to undertake, but now medical-grade, hospital-level equipment is available for use in the home, hugely alleviating the pressure on both carers and our most vulnerable family members.
Physiotherapist PJ Galvin, who began his career in Co. Kerry, Ireland before continuing his practice in Auckland New Zealand, notes – “Maintaining peoples mobility in the home is paramount. Things like electrical beds and hoists allow people to mobilize independently or with minimal support and can help keep them at home for as long as possible. It’s also significantly reducing the risk of falls by making it easier for people to get in and out of bed, you’ve also got other factors like the reduction of pressure injuries for people who find it difficult to move freely whilst in a prone position.”
These thoughts are corroborated by the aforementioned Edel Hill, Clinical Nurse Manager Lead at myhomecare.ie who adds – “Having this type of bed, especially if the patient has health or mobility difficulties, can help them remain in their own home. Their multiple control and functioning options can help adjust their positioning and posture instead of relying on others to help with these tasks.” and also can assist with respiratory and circulation issues –“Respiratory Difficulties can be eased with the use of a profiling system helping the patient sit upright and increase better breathing and oxygen circulation throughout the body. Electric beds are adjustable at the head and feet positions. Moving them can improve circulation for someone who is bed-bound for long periods. This action also reduces bedsores, fluid build-up in the legs, joint and back strain and a range of other complications associated with being bed bound for long periods.”
Peter Keane, a physio in Waterford, founder of PHYSIOMOTION3D notes – “With regular beds, you’ve got increased risks of pressure ulcers with people who are suffering from reduced mobility, so when you introduce an electric medical bed you’re significantly reducing that risk as you’re keeping the person mobile and also allowing them to move independently.”
Registered Physiotherapist Ronald Yip lists some of the brilliant benefits of having a hospital-grade, medical bed at home –“I would certainly recommend a medical bed to be used at home. An electric bed does not only provide more comfort for the elderly and people with disabilities, but it is also an essential piece of equipment to minimise manual handling and to reduce risk of injury to their carers.”
Some Benefits Include:
It is not uncommon to see increased cases of kyphosis and degenerative changes in the spine amongst the elderly population. Traditional beds may not be able to accommodate these issues and hence we see reduced sleeping quality, pain and stiffness during and after sleep. With the control of the upper back, hip and leg position, people can position themselves according to the individual built hence improving comfort.
Strain to Carers
The vast majority of injuries caused by caring for a person is due to manual handling. However, the use of a medical bed reduces much of this work, such as lifting, pushing, pulling and carrying. Thanks to the ability of medical beds, caregivers can manoeuvre the angle of the bed and its height by simply pressing a button.
Compatibility with other Care Equipment
Elderly and disabled people living at home might require the use of other devices to assist with daily life. This might include hoists, standing hoists, sara stedys or wheelchairs. Unfortunately, most of these are not compatible with traditional beds, which makes them impossible to use. Medical beds, in this case, becomes an obvious necessity.
Understandably, cost can be a huge barrier to those wishing to undertake this level of care in their home. Here at O’Flynn Medical, we operate a rental service which is an increasingly popular option for many different people. We have a wide array of profiling hospital beds available on a short-term basis. O’Flynn Medical is a family business, we understand more than most that circumstances can change rapidly and we understand the impact of these changes long term.
What is a Hospital Bed or Medical Bed?
It’s a great question, you may have heard the term thrown about before, but what does it actually mean? A hospital bed is a medical-grade apparatus, designed with functionality in mind for those who will be confined to it for an extended period of time due to various reasons, one of which is commonly lack of mobility. These beds prioritize the needs of both the carer and the patient by offering support, comfort and assistance that they would otherwise be unable to receive. These beds can be used at home or even on holiday, but you would also see them used in hospitals, nursing and care homes.
What is a Hospital Mattress?
To get the most out of your hospital bed a medical-grade mattress is recommended. There are several different kinds of hospital mattresses, primarily though you will see air mattresses and foam mattresses. Air mattresses are more suitable for patients with limited mobility as they are generally more susceptible to developing pressure sores, bedsores and ulcers. Both of these options, air and foam, increase comfort and provide added mobility.
Are there Different Types of Beds?
Yes, there are the beds that we have mentioned already but there are also bariatric beds. These are beds that can extend both lengthways and sideways. These provide a significant increase in comfort as they allow patients to move more freely and allow more space to manoeuvre. These beds are suitable for people of any body type with a higher weight capacity. They are also very useful in assisting with aiding rehabilitation and mobilisation for patients who are or have been bedbound. Bariatric beds are generally more expensive than average hospital beds so in some cases bariatric hospital bed rental may be more suited.