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How to Use a Hospital Bed at Home: New Owner’s Guide

By Maurice

How to Use a Hospital Bed at Home

Getting a new hospital bed at home isn’t like getting that nice new bed to match the furniture in your master bedroom. Whether manual, semi-electric or fully electric, this is a bed that has features that can be complex to use and sometimes dangerous. This post will look at some of these issues.

Common Safety Issues with Hospital Beds

There various safety issues that can arise with adding a hospital bed to your home. Some of them follow.

Bed Rails 

Of course, bed rails that are supposed to protect the hospital bed’s occupant protect the hospital bed’s occupant are or at least can become life-threatening or even fatal. Though not common, nearly 1000 incidents of patients being injured or killed by the bedrails.

It’s important to recall that patients using these beds are often confused and unable to deal with a bedrail problem if one arises. What does happen is that the individual gets caught in or by the bed rail and then strangles or is otherwise injured or bruised by the rails.

Further, if the caregiver uses the bedrails to restrain the patient, the patient can become agitated and engage in frantic behavior in response. Moreover, when the rails are overused, a patient capable of performing daily tasks is prevented from doing so.

Bed Height

One of the problems which the high-low bed was intended to resolve is the danger of patients falling out of bed and injuring themselves. The high-low bed allows for a very low profile on the bed so that when a patient tries to leave the bed, there is only a small distance to fall.

Fire Hazards

Because the electric and semi-electric beds are electric, there is always the danger of a short or other electrical problem that can cause a fire. Sometimes the bed’s motor will become overheated, also causing fires.

Brake Issues

Because the bed can move easily and cause injuries, it’s crucial to ensure that the brakes remain locked unless you are actively pushing the bed. If you do move the bed, be sure to reapply the brake as soon as the bed is in its new position.


Make sure a cellphone or other way for the patient to contact the caregiver is within easy reach of the patient. A patient who cannot contact the caregiver may become stressed or suffer without assistance for too long a period.

Adjustments for Comfort

The caregiver should ensure that the adjustments remote is easily within the patient’s reach. If a particular position becomes seriously uncomfortable, the patient should be able to adjust the bed quickly and simply to restore their comfort.

Hospital Bed Safety Home Checklist

There are a lot of issues to remember about your new hospital bed. A checklist might help accomplish everything you need to do regularly.

Home Checklist Sample

  1. 1Check bed height.
  2. 2Check bed brakes.
  3. 3Check the mattress cover for tangles and stains, the latter of which can indicate injuries.
  4. 4Ensure that anti-slip tapes are on the floor.
  5. 5Is the table positioned on the right side of the bed so that the patient can exit the bed without hitting the table?
  6. 6Are the commode, canes, walkers, etc., on the exit side of the bed?
  7. 7Make sure the night light is on.
  8. 8Does the occupant have access to the height change remote, if applicable?
  9. 9Does the occupant have the ability to contact a caregiver?
  10. 10Check for visible damage signs – loose screws, missing handles, etc.

How to Adjust a Hospital Bed

Most electric and semi-electric hospital beds have a remote with buttons marked for head and foot up and down. The occupant can use those buttons to raise or lower the headboard and footboard to bring the patient into a more comfortable position. If the bed is a high-low, you can raise it for the caregiver’s ease of treatment and lower it to allow the patient to exit the bed easily .

The type of adjustments you make will depend on the patient’s problem. Adjusting the headboard so that the patient sleeps sitting up is typical for respiratory and heart issues. Raising the feet can help treat edema, circulation, and blood flow issues. Be sure to confirm that the patient is comfortable with the change whenever you make adjustments (as opposed to the patient making the adjustment).

How to Make a Hospital Bed More Comfortable

Who Makes the Best Adjustable Bed

Hospital bed mattresses come in foam, air, and gel forms. Some of them can reduce pressure on areas of the skin and thus reduce the potential for pressure sores. You can and most likely should buy or rent your mattress at the same store where you get the bed. The mattress will probably have a waterproof cover, but you must buy bed linens, pads, and other accessories separately.

Pillows and blankets, however, are entirely up to the patient. Get down pillows and quilts if they like down; use patchwork quilts with unicorns if that makes the patient more comfortable. If your patient likes a lot of pillows and the doctor doesn’t object, give them as many as they want. You may also want to buy one of the many mattress toppers now on the market to make the bed more cushiony and comfortable.

Consider using bumper pads to keep from injuring the patient around the bed. Make the bed more comfortable by using an over-bed table and some sort of organizer for the bedside table or hanging on the bedside rails. Either should make finding and reaching what you want a lot easier.

Also, make sure there is a charger on the over-bed table so that the patient can keep all electronic devices such as e-readers, cellphones, and laptops charged up. Ensure that the patient has access to noise-reducing headphones and light-blocking eye covers to make sleep easier.


A home hospital bed can add to the patient’s comfort and the caregiver’s ability to treat the patient easily. When you get the right bed for the patient and learn to use it well, you can make the patient’s life much more comfortable and the caregiver’s work more straightforward. 

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