Hospital Beds: A Guide

26 Oct.,2022


Wooden hospital beds

Even at home, a hospital bed can be useful and even necessary. But there are so many options – how do you know what to get?

* Starting price as of 11/6/18


Choosing a hospital bed and other adaptive bedroom equipment can be a very daunting task. Just the thought of redesigning your bedroom, removing your beautiful furniture and having to replace it with all this medical equipment, is overwhelming. It’s hard to imagine replacing your dresser with a patient lift, your nightstand with a commode, your sofa with a geri chair and your bed with a hospital bed… In many situations, you may want to avoid it altogether, but you know that this is what’s best for yourself or your loved one.

But even once you accept the reality of the situation and feel ready to go ahead with the changes, the process of switching over can still be difficult and stressful, since there are so many different options to choose from. Today, let’s explore the different hospital bed types and their advantages as well as hospital bed accessories.

Manual, electric or somewhere in between?

Starting out, there are three basic options to choose from. There is a manual bed, a semi electric bed and full electric hospital bed.

Manual Hospital Beds: The positions and height of the manual bed is controlled manually, using a crank, so anytime you want to change the position of the bed there is manual labor required. However, if the patient does not require constant position changing, a manual bed might be the best option. Keep in mind that there are some manual beds that don’t have the same range of positions as an electrical bed has, so if the patient needs to be put in many different positions, an electrical hospital bed might be a better option. The manual bed is usually a lot cheaper, so if there is a caregiver that is able to do this work, the manual hospital bed is definitely the most economical way to go.

Semi Electric Hospital Beds: A semi electric bed has a motor that controls the adjustments needed for the feet and head, so with the push of a button you can easily change those positions. However the height of the bed is still manual. So if the patient needs the head and leg rests to be repositioned frequently, but not so much the height, a semi electric bed might be perfect. The semi electric beds are usually a bit more expensive than the manual beds; however, you get the added benefit of not having any manual work needed to adjust the two ends of the bed.

Full Electric Hospital Beds: An electrical bed is plugged into an outlet and is controlled with a remote that usually attaches to the side of the bed. All the different positions can be changed very easily, thus eliminating the need for any manual labor. In addition to the control over the feet and head, the height of a full electric bed can easily be changed with the push of a button. This can be important if the patient needs the bed to be lowered often to make it safer to get in and out of bed, and then raised again to allow caregivers to reach the patient easily. If this is something that will be a necessity, a full electric hospital bed would be the best option of the three basic types of hospital beds.


Other bed options

There are some other options as well. For patients that have a high risk of falling out of their bed, a hi-low bed might be the best and most secure option. The hi-low bed goes down to as low as 7 inches off the ground, so if the patient does fall, the fall will be from a low height. Obviously in such cases a fall safety floor mat should also be used to help minimize and injury which can be incurred by a fall. Another way to avoid falls altogether is to use a half or full length bed rail that is designed to keep patients from falling.

Another option available is the bariatric hospital bed or the heavy duty hospital bed, which is made for patients that range from 350 to 1000 pounds. They are designed to be more durable and much wider to accommodate the needs of a bariatric patient. The bariatric bed is usually much more expensive, however in lots of cases there might not be too much of a choice.

To learn about home hospital bed options in the UK, check out this Hospital Profiling Bed Guide by Alpine HC.


Just like with the beds themselves, there are also many different options in regards to which mattress you should get. The most typical hospital bed mattress is the innerspring mattress. It is more or less the same as a regular mattress and is the perfect choice for patients who do not have to spend a lot of time in bed.

For patients that have to be in bed for longer periods of time, a foam prevention mattress might be a lot better. When a patient lies for long periods of time on a regular mattress, the risk of developing painful bed sores is increased. The foam prevention mattress is made in a way that helps such patients avoid these problems. For patients that already have bed sores or an ulcer, an alternating pressure relief mattress is what’s needed. These mattresses are designed in a way that the air cells in the mattress are alternatively inflated and deflated, thus offering soothing relief for the patient.


Hospital bed accessories

Some features and accessories to consider when buying a hospital bed include bed rails or bed canes that can both prevent the patient from falling off the bed, and assist with getting in and out of bed. These products can also be useful for patients who need some help repositioning themselves or turning over in bed. Some come with added support with feet on the ground and some have a board that goes underneath the mattress. Whatever you do, make sure that the patient doesn’t try climbing over the rails, which can be very dangerous. If the patient needs more than just the basic help getting up, lots of hospital beds have the ability to have a trapeze bar connected to it, which the patient can independently use to pull themselves up into a sitting position. If the hospital bed of your choice does not come with that ability, there is an option to get a trapeze bar that comes with a base that goes at the head of any bed.


Disclaimer: No information presented on this website or in this guide is medical advice or intended as a substitute for the advice of a physician. All information on this website concerning medical conditions is from publicly available sources.


Have you purchased a hospital bed in the past? What are your favorite features? Let us know in the comments below!