Profiling Beds Guide

January 28th, 2009

Profiling Beds Guide

As we all spend a huge amount of time in our warm, cosy beds, supposedly between a third to half of our lives, it is important to ensure that the time spent there is as comfortable as possible, whilst also making it as easy to move around or get in or out of the bed as possible.

For people who have difficulty sitting themselves up or transferring in and out of bed, such as those with age related conditions such as arthritis or neurological conditions such as MS, then it may be that an electric profiling bed is required to assist them. These beds can also be height adjustable to ensure that a carer or carers do not have to bend down so much when assisting with personal care or transfers. These types of bed are available in various designs and can also be made to suit an individual with issues such as bariatric, pressure relief or continence needs if appropriate. Variable posture beds have sections in the base under the mattress. The sections can hinge to form a backraise and sometimes a legraise as well. This feature is known as profiling. Some companies have a double bed option. If needed, ensure the beds will separate easily, e.g. for carers to assist from both sides and/or there is sufficient clearance underneath, e.g. for the legs of a portable hoist.

Consider the following (2 & 5 section beds are also available but not quite as commonly used):

  • Three section variable posture beds slightly raise the user’s knees, forming a knee break that may prevent him/her from sliding down the bed;
  • A more comfortable and stable position can be achieved in a bed with four sections, as the user’s bottom remains horizontal while the knees are raised to form a break;

Variable posture beds can be adjusted electrically while the person is on the bed and are usually controlled with a handset. Although powered by a motor, most are quiet or almost silent. The mattresses for these beds are either foam, latex or sprung, but should have divisions to correspond with the sections of the platform for the mattresses. It’s essential to get the right mattress for your needs so make sure you consider comfort but also any problems you have with issues such as bed sores (pressure relief) or continence. Both domestic and hospital versions of variable posture beds are available. The domestic ones tend to be smaller with a wooden or padded headboard and generally look more homely. It is important to check that a hospital bed provides the functions needed. Many have a tilting mechanism and most have the option of safety sides. It is necessary to specify other options; e.g. quick release of the backrest for resuscitation, removable head and footboards, etc. It is also strongly advised that these factors should all be assessed for and / or advised by an experienced professional such as an Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist or District Nurse.

For information about choosing the right bed contact the National Bed Federation (NBF). It will be able to send you factsheets on how to choose a bed and mattresses. These are provided free of charge.

For more information about how Inclusion and our expert Occupational Therapists could help you if you are having difficulty with the bed transfers please contact us via:

or email us on or phone 01892 704065 for some free advise……….