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For many people, the addition of a hospital bed to the home can make a huge difference in their lives. These beds can provide patients who are disabled, elderly, or otherwise limited in terms of mobility with comfort, support, and most importantly, the ability to remain at home.
However, due to the specialist design of hospital beds, it is important to ensure that you have all of the correct equipment to ensure maximum effectiveness.
One such piece of equipment is a good mattress that has been designed with a hospital bed in mind. Using a regular mattress on a hospital bed is never a good idea but choosing the right one can be challenging, especially if you have never shopped for a hospital bed mattress before.
In this article, we are going to be exploring what makes a good mattress for your hospital bed and giving you an insight into the things you should be looking for when making a purchase.
Hospital Bed Mattresses Comparison Chart
Drive Medical 15006 Inner Spring Mattress
Protekt 500 Gel Infused Foam Pressure Redistribution Mattress
Drive Med-Aire Plus 14029 Alternating Pressure Mattress Replacement System with Low Air Loss
Merits 80020 Low Air Loss Alternating Pressure Overlay System
Hill-Rom NP50B Bariatric Mattress
76" to 84"
Can I Use a Regular Mattress on a Hospital Bed?
Hospital beds are designed to move and are adjustable in both the foot and head sections – some of the more advanced models go even further than this. For this reason, a regular mattress would not be suitable for use with a hospital bed as you need something that is flexible yet remains supportive to the patient.
Moreover, mattresses that are made for hospital beds are created with the size of this type of bed in mind. Usually, hospital beds will come in a variety of sizes and as such, will require a mattress that lines up with this.
A regular mattress will simply not be equipped to meet the complex medical and health needs of a person that requires a hospital bed and this is another reason why they should not be used.
Hospital mattresses are designed with comfort and cleanliness in mind – it stands to reason that if you are spending long periods of time in bed, skin, sweat, and other bodily materials are going to get onto the mattress. A regular mattress is not designed to withstand this, whereas a hospital mattress will be more breathable and hygienic, meaning that it would not need to be replaced as frequently.
If you have been used to sleeping on a particular type of mattress for most of your life, the good news is that there is a versatile range of hospital bed mattresses to suit varying needs and preferences.
Types of Hospital Bed Mattresses
Making the transition from your own bed to a hospital bed can take some getting used to, but with the varied range of hospital bed mattresses that are now available on the market, you needn’t be concerned about having a limited choice.
Of course, the needs of the patient and personal preference will factor into your decision, but understanding what is on offer can go a long way in helping you make an informed decision.
In terms of being similar to a regular mattress, the innerspring is the closest so this is an excellent option for anyone who wants to remain on something that they are used to.
The main feature of this type of mattress is that internal coils which are either individually wrapped or intertwined with one another. Additionally, innerspring mattresses can vary in terms of the number of springs, their thickness, and how many working turns there are.
This type of mattress is better for people who need firm support as well as those who need relief from pressure.
One of the first things that serves as a point of confusion when selecting an innerspring mattress are the options where the type of coil is concerned. For this reason, we have included the benefits of each type of spring.
- Offset coils are shaped similarly to an hourglass and are usually used in the better quality hospital bed mattresses. Their unique shape allows the mattress to better contour to the body of the patient making them much more supportive and comfortable.
- Bonnell coils are similar in shape to the offset coil we have already discussed but are much less expensive. However, that isn’t to say that they do not provide good comfort and support. This type of coil has been long-used in mattresses and is well-known for retaining its function over the long-term.
- Pocket coils differ slightly in appearance to the coils we have already looked at and feature a barrel-like design. These are used where maximum support is imperative, however, it is important to note that they fall into a much pricier category.
- Continuous coils are, as their name may suggest, a series of continuous, interlinked coils which are joined together along the edges of the mattress. If you are looking for something that is stable and will provide consistent support, this is a good option.
It is also worth looking at the number of working turns on each coil as this will give you a good idea of how bouncy the mattress will be – more working turns equals more bounce and vice versa. However, the thickness of the coil should also be taken into consideration. Naturally, the more thickness the coil has, the more supportive it will be, whereas thinner coils give a mattress a more springy feel.
An innerspring mattress is a good option if you are not looking to break the bank when purchasing a hospital bed mattress since these are at the lower end of the price range where mattresses are concerned. They may also be a good option if you need something that will keep the patient cool thanks to the cooling effect they provide. What’s more, an innerspring mattress will offer much better longevity than some of the other mattress types, so may be ideal for patients who need a more long-term solution.
However, it is worth bearing in mind that if you go for a very cheap option, this may not give adequate support to the sleeper. Furthermore, there is always the possibility that the coils may break through the material of the mattress causing injury or discomfort.
Much like innerspring mattresses, their foam counterparts come in a variety of forms so choosing the best option for you takes some careful consideration.
- Memory foam is probably the most commonly recognized type of mattress foam and whilst this is quite long-lasting and very comfortable, it may not be ideal if you require something extra supportive. There is also a gel memory foam option that is much better at dissipating heat.
- PU foam is a cheaper alternative, however, there is a risk of gases from the chemicals used in manufacturing being released. Furthermore, these are not a durable option and tend to last for half the time of memory foam.
- Latex foam offers the longest lifespan and is superior when it comes to support and comfort.
- High resilience foam mattresses have a very good bounce-back rate and are also very durable.
One of the first things to think about is how many layers of foam are included in the mattress. Of course, the more layers, the thicker and more supportive the mattress will be. But this is where things get even more complicated – there are two different types of foam layers in these mattresses, one for comfort and one for support. Each of these will have varying densities so it is worth looking at each layer and what it provides to determine whether the mattress will work for you.
Foam that is higher density is more durable and will last longer as well as giving a good level of support. However, it is important to note that it will not return to its original state as easily as a foam of lower density.
There are many advantages to using a foam mattress, primarily, they will mold to your body shape and offer superior support to the back and spine. Additionally, foam mattresses give you a much more comfortable sleep by spreading the weight of your body evenly over the mattress, this also equates to less movement during sleep.
These are a great option for people who do not need additional support but if you require firm support that doesn’t give way at the edges, a foam mattress may not be right for you.
One of the major advantages of an air mattress is that you have the ability to control the air pressure. This is ideal for patients who will be spending a lot of time in their hospital beds as it can contribute to the prevention of bedsores. However, you don’t need to continually remember to alternate the pressure as many of these models come with preset programs that inflate and deflate regularly.
Another problem for patients who are bed-ridden is overheating but thanks to the continued air-flow of the low air loss version of the air mattress, patients are kept much cooler and the risk of overheating is drastically reduced. What’s more, this will ensure that no excess moisture is soaked into the mattress.
There are air mattresses that feature both of the above therapies but there are also those which feature a lateral rotation – another important way of reducing and treating bedsores.
For patients who live in warmer climates or find that they get very hot whilst in bed, an air mattress is an excellent choice. They are also perfect for people who need to remain in bed for most of the day or those who are paralyzed. They can reduce pressure points meaning that bedsores could be a thing of the past. On top of this, an air mattress features unrivaled support and comfort.
However, this may not be a good choice if the patient finds it difficult to sleep with noise since the continual motorized function of this type of mattress isn’t completely silent.
For patients who are on the heavier side, a more supportive mattress is a must both in terms of safety and comfort. Fortunately, there are many bariatric or heavy-duty mattresses available on the market that offer both of these things to larger people.
A bariatric mattress will be wider than a regular hospital mattress and can be used on a bed which has also been designed with the larger patient in mind. They may feature a higher weight capacity and will be able to spread the weight evenly over the mattress so that support is not compromised.
These are perfect for people who require additional support owing to their heavier weight but it is important to consider that, due to the larger size, you may expect to pay more for this type of mattress.
A mattress overlay, sometimes referred to as a mattress topper can be added onto the top of your mattress for an additional layer of support. These are also great in the prevention of bedsores.
What’s interesting about mattress overlays is that they vary regarding the needs of the patients – for example, you may only require a low-risk overlay which is designed for patients who require just a little added comfort. In contrast, there are mattress overlays with high-risk patients in mind, for example, those who experience a lot of pain or are very susceptible to ulcers.
It is most common to find mattress overlays in a foam material which is ideal if you want the durability of an innerspring mattress but the added comfort of foam. Being able to mix it up this way makes these a very advantageous product.
How to Choose the Right Hospital Bed Mattress?
Whilst you may have gotten a good idea of the type of hospital bed mattress you will need, it is also important to keep in mind certain factors before making a purchase.
The individual needs of the patient play the most important role in choosing the right mattress, for example, someone who is spending most of their time in bed will have vastly different needs to someone who uses the bed for much shorter periods of time. Mobility will also be a determining factor.
How firm the mattress is will give you a good idea of how supportive it is going to be. Patients with a need for better support will need to look at a firmer mattress as this will give better support, however, these mattresses can be less comfortable and can, therefore, make it more difficult to get a peaceful sleep. For this reason, you should look at buying a mattress that offers the most support along with the minimum firmness to try to achieve a healthy balance. For most people, medium-firm is the most preferable option.
If the person is going to be spending all day in their hospital bed, there is nothing quite as important as comfort but it is vital that you do not allow this to compromise on other areas which could lead to further health problems.
The personal preference of the sleeper will play a role in this since some prefer a softer mattress like the foam ones we discussed earlier, whereas others find a springy mattress more comfortable to lie on.
The majority of hospital mattresses are designed to be breathable and to circulate air so that the patient is comfortable and does not overheat. But, as we have seen, there are varying methods of how this is achieved.
Both the materials used in the mattress and its design will tell you a great deal about how breathable it is. Be sure to keep this in mind, particularly for patients who are unable to move from or in their beds.
Pressure Relief Requirements
Patients who spend a lot of time in bed will be at high risk of developing ulcers and sores, which are not only very uncomfortable but can also pose a risk of infection.
When looking for a hospital bed mattress, it is important to think about what requirements the patient has in terms of pressure relief. Are they able to move themselves or do they need some assistance?
If the former is true, you are at liberty to select a bed based on comfort and personal preference, however, if the patient cannot move themselves freely, it may be worth considering an air mattress which will alternate the pressure points and move the patient to help prevent painful sores.
The size of the mattress will naturally need to line up with the size of the bed on which it will sit. As a rule of thumb, there are four main sizes of hospital bed mattresses – standard, deluxe, long, and bariatric.
If the mattress is not long enough or wide enough to support the patient this can be uncomfortable and lead to inferior support.
Patient Size / Weight Capacity
When thinking about the size of the mattress, it pays to take into account the size of the patient – are they taller? If so, a long mattress may be preferable, whereas for the heavier patient, a bariatric mattress might be more suitable.
Another important factor to think about when looking at the size of the patient is the maximum weight capacity of the mattress. If this does not match the weight of the patient, it could pose a safety risk.
As we lie in bed, we shed skin and we sweat and for some people, problems with incontinence can also serve to pass bacteria onto the mattress. So it is important to be sure that you are getting a mattress that is hygienic.
By nature, foam mattresses are more antimicrobial and antibacterial and so offer a more hygienic option.
Be sure to check out whether the mattress is antimicrobial because not only will this give optimal cleanliness but will also serve to prolong the lifespan of the mattress.
Best Mattresses for Hospital Beds
1. Drive Medical 15006 Inner Spring Mattress
The Drive Medical 15006 innerspring mattress is ideal if you are looking for a more economical mattress that offers good support and comfort. The 36″ x 80″ sized mattress is constructed from premium grade cotton and a high-density urethane foam with an innerspring core, which offers excellent comfort and durability.
The six-inch thick mattress is suitable for patients with some mobility, who can change positions independently, and are at a lower risk of bed sores.
To reduce heat build-up, the mattress features two side vents that allow air to circulate between the coils, which helps to ensure that it remains cool. The mattress is also relatively low maintenance. The waterproof vinyl cover allows for easier cleaning, and the antibacterial surface assists in reducing bacterial growth.
- Length: 80″
- Width: 36″
- Thickness: 6″
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Mattress weight: 30 lbs
- Type: Innerspring
2. Protekt 500 Gel Infused Foam Pressure Redistribution Mattress
The Protekt 500 gel-infused foam mattress uses open cell technology which helps to eliminate the risk of heat build-up. This can sometimes be an issue with standard foam mattresses. It is constructed from Visco memory foam, and it is infused with a gel polymer. This assists with heat dissipation as it is able to disperse body heat more effectively. This improves the mattress’s breathability allowing the patient to remain cool and dry, as well as protecting against pressure sores.
The gel-infused memory foam mattress is able to retain its shape better than other types of foam mattresses. This reduces the risk of it bottoming out, and extends its lifespan.
As the mattress molds to the unique shape of the user’s body, it can help to relieve pressure and provide the user with a better night’s sleep. This is particularly useful for those who suffer from painful joints, especially for anyone with a back complaint, who otherwise may struggle to remain comfortable for extended periods.
Near the foot of the mattress, there is a 30 degree sloped section that redistributes pressure away from the heels, and this instead is distributed through the entire calf area. This assists in alleviating pressure from the user’s heels and ankles, and prevents the risk of painful pressure sores from developing in this area.
The mattress is available in a choice of 3 lengths including 76″, 80″ and 84″, so no matter how tall the patient is, there is a suitable sized option for most users. The mattress is also available with 3″ raised rails if required. This helps to protect the patient from falling out of bed, and is particularly useful for anyone who is prone to falls.
- Length: 76″ to 84″
- Width: 36″
- Thickness: 6″
- Weight capacity: 450 lbs
- Mattress weight: 25 lbs
- Type: Foam
3. Drive Med-Aire Plus 14029 Alternating Pressure Mattress Replacement System with Low Air Loss
The Drive Med-Aire Plus 14029 alternating air mattress is an excellent option for patients who are susceptible to pressure sores, or for anyone who is bedridden and needs to spend extended periods in bed and are unable to reposition themselves independently.
The mattress consists of 20 individual air cells that are 8-inch in diameter that supports the patient’s entire weight. The mattress comes with a pump that is able to inflate and deflate the air cells quickly, as well as quietly so as not to disturb the user’s sleep. The pump can either be operated in static or alternating pressure mode.
In the alternating pressure mode, the cells are inflated and deflated in intervals, alternating between 10, 15, 20, or 25 minutes. The constantly changing air pressure helps to shift the user’s weight regularly to provide pressure redistribution in order to reduce the risk of pressure sores. The mattress firmness can be adjusted via the pump. This can be adjusted from 20 to 60 mmHg depending on the individual needs of the user.
The mattress features a cell-in-cell design which helps to prevent it from bottoming out during a power outage. In the event that the pressure drops below 10 mmHg, an audible and visual alert will go off warning the caregiver. The air cells can easily be removed in case any of them need servicing or replacing.
The mattress has a low sheer removable cover that is easily washable. The cover is water-resistant, making it suitable for patients who are incontinent and is also breathable, to reduce heat build-up and help reduce perspiration.
- Length: 80″
- Width: 36″
- Thickness: 8″
- Weight capacity: 450 lbs
- Mattress weight: 3.3 lbs
- Type: Air
4. Merits 80020 Low Air Loss Alternating Pressure Overlay System
Choosing a mattress overlay can make economic sense if you already have an innerspring or foam hospital bed mattress, and you’re not looking to replace it, but you are looking for a way to provide the patient with extra comfort or pressure relief.
The Merits 80020 low air loss alternating pressure overlay is suited for patients who are susceptible to pressure ulcers who are looking for a way to manage or prevent them. The mattress overlay features 18 air cells. It provides the patient with low air loss and alternating pressure therapies in a single device.
There is a choice of two programs (soft or firm) that can be set to provide the patient with the desired firmness, to ensure maximum comfort and pressure relief. The 16 laser holes help to improve its breathability, ensuring the patient remains cool, and this prevents excessive sweating.
The alternating air pressure mode shifts the patient’s weight regularly, which helps to relieve pressure points on the body.
The mattress has an anti-microbial removable cover that can easily be washed. The cover is constructed from a non-shear layer that helps to protect the patient from possible skin injuries that may occur during bed transfers and repositionings.
In the event of a power outage or the pump becomes disconnected, a low-pressure alarm will sound, alerting the patient or caregiver of a potential issue.
- Length: 78.5″
- Width: 33″
- Thickness: 5″
- Weight capacity: 300 lbs
- Mattress weight: 9 lbs
- Type: Air
5. Hill-Rom NP50B Bariatric Mattress
Heavier individuals who are bedridden, are often at a higher risk of pressure sores. The reason being is increased weight can exert greater pressure on the user’s body while they are lying down. This is why choosing a mattress that is not only comfortable, but also has pressure relieving properties is vital for bariatric users who have impaired mobility.
The Hill-Room foam mattress has a weight capacity of up to 700 lbs, and it comes in a choice of differing lengths (80″ or 84″) and widths (39″, 48″), which makes it a suitable choice for larger-sized individuals. Despite its higher weight capacity, the mattress is relatively lightweight, weighing just 35 lbs.
The mattress is constructed from high-density foam, which provides good support. This helps to keep the patient comfortable as well as helping to prevent pressure sores. The base of the mattress features an anti-skid backing, which prevents it from moving or sliding while the hospital bed is being adjusted.
The polyurethane-coated nylon cover means the mattress can easily be kept clean, and the waterproof layer helps to protect the mattress from soiling. The antimicrobial nature of memory foam also means it is resistant to bacteria and mold.
- Length: 80″, 84″
- Width: 39″, 48″
- Thickness: 7″
- Weight capacity: 700 lbs
- Mattress weight: 35 lbs
- Type: Foam
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many things to consider when buying a mattress for your hospital bed, primarily, you should remember that a regular mattress is not suitable for use on a hospital bed due to the lack of flexibility and other factors. However, there are various types of mattresses that have been specifically designed for use on a hospital bed but making a choice requires some careful attention.
It pays to think about the specific needs of the patient and measure these closely to the features of the mattress. This will allow you to get the most comfortable and supportive experience.