Maintaining an independent lifestyle can be a driving force for an ageing population and those living with disabilities or impairments.
It is important to consider how equipment such as beds and seating can help to prevent unnecessary hospital stays and avoidable pressure ulcers.
According to the NHS, the likelihood of developing a pressure ulcer will increase for people over the age of 70 and those with mobility problems.
Choosing the right medical bed system can play a vital role in the prevention of pressure ulcers, and it is equally important to make sure the mattress cover is suitable for your specific needs.
Why is a mattress cover important?
‘While many people will pay attention to innards of a medical mattress, such as gel, foam or air, it is just as important to consider the mattress cover,’ said Richard Haxby, Technical Manager at Dartex Coatings. ‘A breathable yet durable polyurethane cover such as Dartex, will help to prevent a build-up of moisture between the skin and the mattress cover, and could significantly lower the occurrence of pressure ulcers.’
Richard continued: ‘A well-designed medical bed system will take into account the relationship between the frame, mattress core and cover, so that all these elements are working to their optimum pressure-relieving potential.’
Unsurprisingly, we spend more time vertical than horizontal – the average retiree can spend up to 12 hours each day sitting. It’s little wonder that common areas to develop pressure sores are the buttocks, coccyx and heels.
A breathable cushion or chair cover that encourages moisture vapour permeability (MVP) in the same way as a mattress cover can also be used in seating.
‘For people who are sat down most of the day in a wheelchair for instance, stretchable fabrics such as Dartex can offer a more comfortable alternative to materials like PVC, which can leave the sitter feeling sweaty and uncomfortable as there is nowhere for the moisture to escape’, said Richard Haxby.
Prosthetics and Orthotics
Breathable fabric is not only used on furniture; prosthesis and orthotics often take advantage of durable, moisture-permeable fabrics to prevent painful pressure ulcers around skin contact areas.
Making the right choice
There are many aids to independent living available, and as the NHS looks to save money it’s likely that even more people will be cared for in their own home.
Richard Haxby has a final piece of advice: ‘Take a moment to think about the places you spend the most time – in bed and sitting up – if you often feel sweaty or uncomfortable, consider changing to a breathable support surface to help protect against an avoidable pressure ulcer’.
Examples of community equipment available to support independent living
With kind permission of Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. K G, Germany. PLAYMOBIL is a registered trademark of Geobra Brandstätter GmbH & Co. KG, for which also the displayed PLAYMOBIL toy figures are protected
 National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel and Pan Pacific Pressure Injury Alliance. Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers: Quick Reference Guide. Emily Haesler (Ed.). Cambridge Media: Perth, Australia; 2014.