As part of each resident’s personal care plan, you’ll assess the risk of them falling from bed. Bed rails are an obvious and effective preventative measure. However, they come with their own set of risks and you should only use bed rails if they’re the most appropriate solution to preventing falls.
If you do decide bed rails are needed, bear in mind that they are not intended to limit freedom of movement, restrain the resident or be used as grab handles. And, the decision to use bed rails should involve the resident themselves where possible, or their family if not.
So, when are bed rails the most appropriate means to manage the risk? Consider things like whether the resident is likely to try to climb over the rails and cause more harm to themselves. If that’s likely, then other control measures (like extra low beds or sensor alarms) would be better.
You may need to work with families to help them understand that bed rails aren’t always appropriate. They might expect to see bed rails in place even if there isn’t a real risk of falling, not realising the potential risks of the bed rails themselves.
So, what are the risks? And what do you need to do to minimise them?
The biggest risk is the potential for entrapment. Injury, or even asphyxiation, could occur if residents become trapped between a bed rail and another part of the bed or mattress.
If gaps between the bed rail and the mattress are too large, your residents could be at risk. Some points to consider:
In order to prevent falls, your bed rails should be a minimum height of 220mm, measured vertically from the top edge of an uncompressed mattress*. Remember, you’ll need to reassess the height of the bed rail if you:
If the rail doesn’t meet the minimum height requirement of 220mm, you’ll need to carry out a risk assessment to further ensure safety.
*According to British Standards BS EN 60601-2-52:2010
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