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3 Tips for Choosing the Ideal Pressure Care Mattress


Did you know that the UK alone spends more than £1.4 million every day treating pressure sores? Pressure sores are a common occurrence in people who are bed-bound or with limited mobility. Even if that limited mobility is not permanent, the risk of pressure ulcers exists.

Pressure-relieving mattresses are the best way to prevent pressure sores and to reduce their spread once installed.

Before we get to explaining how to the right pressure care mattress, let’s take a quick look at what pressure sores are and who is at risk.


What Are Pressure Ulcers?

Pressure ulcers or pressure sores are areas of localised injuries, typically on the skin or the underlying tissue – depending on the severity of the sores. Most often, ulcers can be found around bony areas like the ankles or the sacrum.

As the name suggests, pressure sores are caused by pressure, often combined with shear, which results in a restricted blood supply to the tissue. The severity of these ulcers ranges from skin discolouration to an open wound, sometimes as deep as the bone.


Who Is at Risk of Developing Pressure Sores?

Typically, people with limited mobility or with trouble adjusting their own weight while seated or lying down are affected by pressure sores. Some of the contributing factors are:

  • Incontinence

  • Obesity

  • Reduced circulation (this explains why pressure sores are very common in the elderly, whose circulation is often reduced)

  • Poor diet or malnourishment

The risk of developing pressure sores can be greatly reduced by pressure care mattresses.


What Are Pressure Care Mattresses?

Pressure care mattresses are designed to increase the comfort of users who are at risk of suffering from pressure ulcers or who have already developed them. The mattresses provide an above-average level of head and body support, thus reducing the pressure on the areas that are most commonly affected by ulcers.

They can achieve that because, unlike regular mattresses, they contain air pockets distributed throughout their surface and designed to place less pressure on the main pressure points of the body.


How to Choose the Ideal Pressure Relief Mattress

Just like not all pressure ulcers are identical, pressure care mattresses aren’t either. Depending on the specifics of each case and the needs of each user, you can choose between a wide array of mattresses and accessories for them.

Here’s what to take into account before hitting the “Buy” button:


  1. Get a Professional Skin Assessment

Different people have different degrees of pressure sores risks. The age of the user, their skin condition, the time frame in which it is estimated they will have limited mobility – all these are factors that have to be taken into account before buying a pressure care mattress.

A medical professional (usually, a dermatologist) is the person to go to for an assessment. Using the Braden Scale, they can predict the sore risk and make pertinent recommendations.


  1. Know the Different Types of Pressure Care Mattresses

There are three major types of pressure relief mattresses:

  • Foam pressure mattresses: designed for the prevention or the alleviation of incipient-phase pressure sores, these mattresses are made of geometrically cut surface foam cells. Their goal is to redistribute pressure and maximise the user’s comfort.

  • Alternating pressure mattresses: they consist of air-filled cells that are inflated and deflated alternatively in order to alter the pressure distribution. These air cells are typically controlled by a pump or a remote control at the side of the bed. Alternating pressure mattresses are recommended for grade 3 and grade 4 ulcers. While they are ideal for late-stage ulcers, they are usually recommended for people who are completely bed-bound because the pump unit can be very noisy, thus impacting the user’s comfort.

  • Hybrid mattresses: a combination of the two types above, hybrid mattresses can provide excellent pressure relief and enhanced comfort. They are designed for people with a high or very high risk of developing ulcers, but who still have some level of mobility.

  1. Consider the User’s Level of Mobility and Functional Ability

Some mattresses can have an impact on egress and ingress. For instance, those that are too high can make it harder for the user to climb in and out of bed without help.

On the other hand, pressure care mattresses with a pump unit could be operated by the users themselves, if their level of mobility allows it. In this case, you should opt for the remote control option, which is easier to use by the patient.


Final Thoughts

There is no point in overspending on a mattress that sacrifices the user’s comfort if the user doesn’t need an enhanced degree of pressure relief. Similarly, if you choose an entry-level mattress for a user who is at high risk for sores, you may end up having to replace it very soon.

Not sure which pressure care mattress is right? If in doubt, always ask for the help of professionals. NHC Group can advise you on choosing the right pressure relief mattress according to the needs of the user and to your budget.