The origins and development of the community bed The increasing focus on care at home over the past thirty years has created a very specific market for products developed expressly to meet the challenges of providing safe, comfortable and appropriate care in a domestic setting. Back in the 1970s, the concept of a care bed designed specifically for community use had not entered the public consciousness. Loan stores did not exist, and when specialist equipment was required for nursing at home, it was the accepted norm for King’s Fund beds to be issued by local hospitals. Designed to meet the identified hospital nursing requirements of the time, in the home they were difficult to set up, unwieldy and presented real issues in the domestic environment. Around this time, healthcare specialists Sidhil were exporting King’s Fund specification beds manufactured at their West Yorkshire production facility to a distributor in the Netherlands. Export and carriage restrictions had prompted the company to look at the potential for redesigning the bed so it would split into separate sections, making it easier to handle and thereby reducing costs. The first ever dedicated community beds The instant popularity of this concept led Sidhil to identify similar opportunities within the new emerging community equipment services market in the UK, and to develop products to meet these needs. The early community beds were essentially King’s Fund beds cut down into individual sections for transportability, making them much easier to manage and lift up and down stairs in the domestic environment. In use, opportunities to further improve the product quickly became evident in response to the very specific requirements of home nursing. Sidhil’s first dedicated community bed took the whole concept a real step forward, with no tools required for assembly and full nursing bed capabilities in use. Designed to improve levels of comfort for patients and to make the work of the carer both easier and safer, these early community beds were easily transported in sections and could be put together or dismantled by a single person in just a few minutes, with each section weighing less than 25kgs. This flexibility of design meant that the bed could be delivered and installed in even the most challenging domestic situations, such as up narrow staircases, via restricted corridors and through small doorways. The design evolved into the very first of the modern genre community beds, with up and down movement located at the head and foot ends of the beds. Enhancing the design As the market for community beds increased apace, and nursing requirements developed further, products evolved further to feature a distinctly domestic look and feel. Beds such as Sidhil’s Solite range illustrate the high quality, versatile healthcare solutions which were developed specifically to meet the needs of the community sector. Advanced manufacturing techniques such as tube laser cutting technologies facilitated improved dimensional consistency, with the now substantial community beds achieving faster assembly and knock down times. The reduced number of moving parts made them ultimately reliable and – so vital for the loan store market – easy to service and clean. Typically, the beds consisted of between two and four sections, with the heaviest weighing in at around 20kgs. With all functions and movements controlled electrically by a single handset, the beds offered smooth variable height adjustment powered by electrical actuators. In addition, reflecting advances in acute care beds, options such electrically operated backrests and kneebreaks provided handling benefits for the carer and greater independence for the occupant, facilitating correct positioning in line with nursing practice for differing medical conditions. The changing face of the community bed Development of the community bed has never stood still. Today, these beds are designed around simple, repeatable assembly and disassembly, advanced levels of performance and reliability in use. The latest models offer real clinical benefits such as auto regressing backrests to eliminate pinching in the sacral area, and integral bed extensions for improved flexibility and versatility. From humble beginnings with cut down King’s Fund beds, community beds today mirror the advances in acute care, designed around the real needs of today’s nursing procedures, providing safety, comfort, practicality and total reliability for the home environment.