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Medical Beds

6 Facts to Know Before You Buy a Hospital Bed in 2022

You or a loved one need a home hospital bed, and you’ve browsed the web to see what’s available. But the range of options has left you confused. Should you buy a home hospital bed or an adjustable bed? Which adjustments do you require? How big are home hospital beds, and will one fit in your bedroom? 

You want to choose the best home hospital bed, but how do you buy a bed that meets the patient’s needs? In this article, we cut through the jargon and answer some of the biggest questions asked by people who are new to the world of home hospital beds.

Start with the Patient

Before buying a home hospital bed, it’s essential to think about the bed user’s needs. It’s easier to identify the best hospital bed with a list of requirements in hand. If you’re researching beds for an elderly or disabled relative, the first step is to talk to them—they know their needs better than anyone. Ask about their experiences with their current bed and the features of a hospital bed that would improve their quality of life and safety. 

If your bed’s intended user can’t explain their needs, consider talking to a medical or caregiving professional. Their experience of hospital beds in the home environment means they understand the best options for dealing with various conditions. 

When putting a list of requirements together, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What type of disability or physical limitation does the patient have?
  • Are they a wheelchair user who needs help transferring to and from the bed?
  • Do they struggle to get into and out of bed without assistance?
  • Do they face difficulty sitting up or lying down?
  • Does their treatment program advise they sleep in a particular position? For example, people with back trouble and some heart conditions are advised to sleep in a slightly elevated position or the cardiac chair position
  • Are they bedridden, and how long will they spend in bed each day?
  • Will they share the bed with someone else? If so, they may benefit from a Dual King adjustable bed.
  • Is the patient a heavier person who may need a bed with a higher weight capacity, also known as a bariatric hospital bed?

Once you have a clear idea of the bed user’s needs, you can begin to identify home hospital beds that best meet them. But first, let’s answer the most common questions hospital bed buyers ask. 

1. Hospital Bed vs. Adjustable Bed: What’s the Difference?

As you research, you will find beds described as hospital beds or adjustable beds. They seem to have many of the same features, so how are they different? In fact, these terms are often used interchangeably, and there’s no well-defined list of differences. 

Whether a bed retailer or manufacturer calls their products “home hospital beds” or “adjustable beds” is simply a preference. Some say beds with only head and foot adjustments are adjustable beds, while hospital beds must also have a height adjustment. Others say hospital beds are single occupancy, and any larger bed—queen-size, or king-size—is an adjustable bed. 

These distinctions are arbitrary. Whichever bed you are looking at, ensure it has the features you need and that the manufacturer has a reputation for making robust, high-quality products—regardless of whether they describe them as home hospital beds,  adjustable beds, or medical beds. 

2. Hospital Bed Adjustments Explained

Home hospital beds are adjustable. The bed frame is articulated so that it can be moved into multiple positions. All adjustable beds feature a head adjustment; the upper portion pivots upward to support the occupant lying down, sitting up, and points in between. More sophisticated beds have additional adjustments that may include:

  • Foot adjustments with knee break.
  • Height adjustment for wheelchair transfers and to help people enter and exit the bed safely.
  • Trendelenburg and reverse Trendelenburg adjustments tilt the bed’s frame up or down at the head or foot.

A hospital bed may include only the head adjustment or a head adjustment in combination with others. The most sophisticated beds—including the Transfer Master Supernal 5— have a complete range of adjustments. These are five-function home hospital beds, and we went into greater depth about them in What Is a 5 Function Hospital Bed?

Features to look out for when considering adjustments are:

  • The range of height adjustability. Make sure the bed’s height range is appropriate for the intended occupant. Height range is particularly critical for wheelchair users. For example, the Supernal Hi-Low has a 10“ height range from 10.5“ to  20.5“.
  • Wall-hugging capability. Wall-hugging home hospital beds keep the occupant close to the wall when the bed’s head is raised. 
  • Massage feature. In addition to profile adjustments, you may want to consider an adjustable bed with built-in massage functionality

3. Manual vs. Electric Hospital Beds?

Home hospital bed adjustments can be manual or motorized. The head, foot, and height adjustments must be moved by hand in a manual-powered home hospital bed. For height adjustments, that’s usually achieved by a hand crank. In contrast, electric home hospital beds are fitted with motors. The adjustments are changed via remote control, which might be wired or wireless, depending on the bed. 

We recommend buying an electric adjustable bed. Electric beds have multiple advantages compared to less sophisticated low-end manual beds. 

  • The bed requires no physical strength to change adjustments. 
  • People with mobility and strength limitations can control the bed without a caregiver’s help. 
  • The bed occupant can adjust the height or profile while still in bed. 

Although they are more expensive than manual beds, electric adjustable beds offer the user a better quality of life, especially if they are bedridden or would struggle to operate a manual bed. 

4. Do I Need a New Mattress for a Home Hospital Bed?

Although it may be possible to use your current mattress on a home hospital bed, it can negatively impact the bed’s usefulness, comfort, and safety. Hospital beds change shape, and standard consumer mattresses are not flexible enough to accommodate a full range of movement. 

We advise our customers to use mattresses designed to work with home hospital beds. Our Supernal mattress range is designed to conform to the shape of the bed through a full range of adjustments while offering outstanding comfort for patients who spend long periods in bed.

5. How Big Are Adjustable Hospital Beds for the Home?

Adjustable hospital beds are available in sizes to suit most home environments and users.  A full-size hospital bed, also known as a double,  is approximately 54 inches wide and is suitable for most adults. If you have limited space or need a hospital bed for a child or small adult, consider a twin-size hospital bed, which is approximately 38 inches wide. 

For couples or larger individuals, we offer queen-size hospital beds, which are 60 inches wide, and king-size hospital beds, which are 76 inches wide. For couples who prefer to sleep together but would like to control each side of the bed independently,  we offer dual king adjustable beds, which comprise a pair of twin-size beds in one unit. 

Most hospital beds are 80 inches long, about 6 feet 8 inches. For taller people, we also offer extra-long hospital beds in some models, which are 84 inches or 7 feet long. 

6. What Is the Weight Capacity of a Home Hospital Bed?

When buying a home hospital bed, you should ensure that the bed’s weight capacity is sufficient to support the weight of the individual or couple who will use it. High-quality hospital beds can take a lot of weight, but overloading them may damage the motors and mechanisms that power the adjustments. 

Each model has a weight capacity specification. Our Supernal 5 has a maximum weight capacity of 300 lbs, while the Supernal Hi-Low supports up to 400 lbs in the twin size and up to 500 lbs in full and queen sizes. For heavier individuals and couples, there are specialist bariatric adjustable beds that support a maximum weight of 700 lbs. 

We hope you now feel confident choosing a hospital bed for your home. If you have any more questions, check out our Home Hospital Bed FAQ or contact our sales team, who are happy to assist you in finding the best adjustable bed for your circumstances. 

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About Transfer Master

Transfer Master has built electric adjustable hospital beds for the home and medical facility since 1993. We started with a simple goal that hospital beds should allow wheelchair users to transfer independently in and out of bed. Twenty-five years later, our customers are still at the center of everything we do. You’ll feel the difference.