Skip to content
(858) 560-8177 Kearny Mesa Store         (760) 993-5444 Vista Store
(858) 560-8177 Kearny Mesa Store
(760) 993-5444 Vista Store

How to Operate a Hospital Bed

You are finally home from the Hospital in your new Hospital bed. This is a big step in your recovery and being home again is important to everyone. However, there is one big question? How to operate a Hospital bed? When you are in hospital you don't take much notice of what is going on around you, and mostly the bed is operated by the staff, so we will do a quick rundown of how to operate your new equipment. There are quite a few types of beds, all a bit different with most functions in common and just slight variables from different models. If you have an electric bed you will soon learn to go up and down and remember to go up when you are eating or drinking for safety reasons. So we will take a look at the beds.

Types Hospital Bed

There are four types for home use, including, full-electric, semi-electric, adjustable, and long-term care. Some of the features are the same, but there are differences.

Full Electric

The head, foot, and height are all powered through the controller. You will have the controller at hand, and this is why I recommend this bed for the fragile aged, as there is not too much to do to get comfortable. The lowest height is around 9", so this is where you need it to be when you get out of bed. It goes up 21" a better height for other applications. When adjusting the bed push the up or down button on the head or foot of the controller. With a fully electric bed, this is really all you need to worry about, simplifying the process. The solutions in controlling mobility need to be as simple as possible, and this is what you get with a fully electric bed.


If you have chosen this option, the head and foot are powered through the controller. The height is controlled with a hand crank or winder, and if you want to keep the bed at its lowest level this option may suit you better, as the ability to go higher and low is more for the safety of the carer. When the bed is up higher the carer can maintain a better position ergonomically, avoiding back damage.

Long Term Care Beds

Have the functions of the full-electric bed, but go even higher from 7" up to 26". This enables the career to have the bed at a good height for delivering pressure area care to the patient. Sometimes there will be a career working on either side of the bed, and it is a good idea to have the bed in the middle of the room for easy access. As long term care beds often require other equipment around them.

The Adjustable Bed

Looks like any regular bed with hospital bed features. It is not just an adjustable hospital bed it is an adjustable bed. It may well be what you are looking for if you are planning on being back to normal quite soon. If you are in a phase of requiring short-term care this bed may suit you better.

    Caring for an older Person at Home

    Caring for an older person involves providing a safe healthy environment. The first thing to do when you know that your parent is coming home from the hospital is to identify the right equipment needed and to order it.

    • Make sure that the designated room is downstairs.
    • If you are upstairs at night install a baby monitor so your parent can call you.
    • Have an assessment of your house from the Physical Therapist to determine the equipment needed.
    • Some companies like Harmony provide home consultations to determine the mobility and care requirements of your relative.
    • Order the equipment, if this is a temporary situation you can hire the bed, otherwise purchase an appropriate bed.
    • Any modifications to the house can be determined, like rails in the bathroom and shower recess.
    • Remove floor rugs as they are a trip hazard for the elderly.
    • Talk to the hospital nutritionist, older people have simple diet needs.
    • Once the equipment arrives, you are ready to bring your mother or father home.

    Once Your Parent is Home

    Once your parent is in their room explain the bed to them and show them how to use the controls. If you have a walking frame for their mobility tell them they must use it to walk around the house, as it is a much safer option. Then go through their medication list to make sure that they have all their medications. Most older people end up on a few different prescription drugs, so check that everything is there. If a lot of medication is required ask the chemist or pharmacist to make up a seven-day blister pack so they can be independent and not mix their medications up.

    Hopefully, this will be a short-term state until they are rehabilitated and can return to their own home again.

    If Physical Therapy is required, this is what is going to make them strong and independent again, so explain that when the Physio comes they have to be prepared to do their exercises and work towards recovery.

    Keep their room at ambient heat, older people feel heat and cold more than we do.

    Keep Your Parent Socially Connected

    If you have children, encourage them to visit your parent after school and spend time chatting. Most older people have endless time and interest in their grandchildren. If you have a family pet, cat or dog they can visit also. Often a cat will sit on the bed for hours being an undemanding company. If you have some jigsaw puzzles at home give them to your parent to complete and stay mentally sharp.

    Part of the rehabilitation process is to show that they are capable of functioning normally once back in their own home. If they tolerate your neighbors encourage them to visit also, the more social connection the better. If we remain interested in the world around us we won't become demented.

    When Your Parent Moves in for Good

    Should you decide that the time has come for your parent to remain in your house permanently, to accommodate everyone it may be necessary to move them upstairs to the spare room, especially if a bathroom is attached.

    This is when you call Harmony to give you a quote for a stairlift. This is a perfectly safe chair on a rail that will climb both up and downstairs safely delivering your mother or father. The stairlifts have improved enormously over recent years and integrate well with most homes and staircases. If you have a growing family, you will want the whole downstairs for family space and this might well be the best option. Children also love a chairlift so they need to be told that it is not a toy, but an essential mobility aid for their grandparents.

    Reassessing the Mobility Equipment and Bed

    How to operate a hospital bed, is really very simple when you have the right bed for you, but things change and every year it is sensible to reassess the equipment requirements for your parent, as they are now in retirement with you, and most older people don't complain. So have Harmony in to conduct an annual assessment, and make sure that your parent's bed is still meeting their needs and that everything is working smoothly. You may be advised to put in another rail in the bathroom, or your parent may be losing the ability to walk and need a new walking frame. When we see people every day we don't always notice that they are becoming more fragile and less mobile.

    If your parent is spending more time in bed, this is not unusual but you might need to order a sheepskin rug for them to sleep on, as staying in the one position for too long can cause areas of pressure to develop on the back.

    This is one of the great advantages of the full-electric bed, as they will move up and down and place themselves in different positions and this is why how to operate a hospital bed is great for a change of position and overall mobility.

    Mobility Scooter

    Home medical supplies have never been better, and if your parent can't walk far suggest a mobility scooter. This is quite a big outlay, but as they are not driving anymore, do what many older people do and sell the car and buy a mobility scooter. This makes perfect sense, as especially if you are living in a semi-rural area, your parent can get outside and enjoy the fresh air without having to walk. Harmony will be the right company to give you advice on a mobility scooter, and as long as your parent does not have Dementia they should easily be able to drive the scooter. It will get them to the shops and the Seniors Social Center and give them a level of freedom that they thought they were losing.


    How to operate a hospital bed is just a small part of taking care of an elderly parent, but you are fortunate to have great advice nearby.