2013 extra

Case: 435 

Introduction- a young person with severe learning difficulties has epileptic fits at night requiring high protective  bed guards to be fitted when staying in his weekly respite facility. At home he has a bespoke  (and very expensive) bed which is non transportable. He has a tendency to kneel whilst in bed and in view of his size/weight  the bed guards need to be high & robust with soft surface, no sharp edges etc  to prevent contact injuries during seizures.

The respite facility (and parent company) were unable to source a duplicate bespoke bed and the aim was to modify an existing old style hospital bed available at the facility. The new bed guards would become an integral extension of the bed and would fulfil his specific requirements.


(1) 1 metre high (above mattress level) bed guard all round

(2) lightweight -easily/ quickly assembled & removed  by care staff   (without use of spanners etc)

(3) can be flat packed when not in use

(4) can be pressure washed.

(5) “see through” material (for carer monitoring) , soft with resilience.

(6) access panels on both sides for personal care by carers.

(7) hinged foot end panel to allow hoisting of client in/out of bed

(8) able to contain adults up to 15stone

(9) Installed equipment size to still allow transit through domestic doorways

(10) Installed equipment to allow normal bed function.

Design steps

(a) Projected costs for this project were an order of magnitude larger than normal case costs and advice was sought from Remap UK  at the outset.

(b) a circular was sent out to other Remap panels as to whether anyone had previous experience of a similar problem, which  generated a number of replies. One in particular ,see photo below, for a hyper active young teenager was a very useful model to base our design on.Subsequent correspondence about different  types of netting etc was very helpful.

with thanks to Coventry/Warwicks panel

(c) inspection of the hospital bed in the respite facility showed detachable head and foot boards with 25 x 25mm box section which  fitted into rectangular sockets at each corner. These sockets could then be used to support the metal frame of the bed guards.

head board with metal strut with socket on bed frame.

(d) alloy tubing was used for the frame as it was lighter and would not rust like mild steel although it would require more specialised (& expensive) TIG welding. This was sourced- cut to length ,  from a local steel stockist (SJ Andrew) for £120 and welded up into two 2 metre long side frames with extended legs (for the corner sockets) and two smaller  1 x 1metre (approx) frames for the head & foot ends. These were initially tack welded for a trial fit and needed slight adjustment in length before being finally welded up.

(e) much time & effort was spent researching suitable netting options. The initial idea of using plywood panels  with foam padding was dropped due to weight considerations and more importantly these would block any light and give the bed guards an unacceptable box or cage like appearance ! A trip to Newlyn harbour (main trawler harbour in the South West))confirmed a number of different net sizes but all of these were either thin nylon or had a harsh rough thick texture which could cause friction burns. A soft netting of the correct size was sourced from Leicester but attaching the zips was still going to be problematic.

(f)Eventually Sailtech (local sail maker in Penryn) came up with the solution -advising the use of  black stretchy “airtex”  material widely used on trampolines . This was soft and could also be sewn . Tough edging material was used on all sides of the four panels and also for attaching a pair of 5ft long zips inserted into the side panels to form a U shape. This was accomplished in record time by his hard pressed staff and generously, at cost price : £150


(a) The four trampoline panels were attached to their respective  metal frames by stainless screws at 3″ intervals on cup washers  (to prevent future tearing)  . This required a measure of stretching on some seams as the edging material had caused some shrinkage but after 350 screws this was accomplished.

(b) The side panels fitted neatly into their sockets, with minimal  movement so that wooden shims were not required (to our great relief) . The open ends of the frames were plugged with plastic inserts . A pair of stainless hinges were attached to one side of each head & foot panel with toggle clips on the opposite side. This allowed both ends to be opened & closed securely. Finally pipe lagging was fixed to the top horizontal  rails and likewise the corner vertical rails by means of cable ties so all metal surfaces were  shielded  from causing contact injuries.

head end open for access

Head end closed up

access side panel zipped up
access side panel open for administration of emergency treatment

Conclusion–  this project has taken two and a half months for completion by two engineers and much support /help /advice from our busy chair person. It is probably the most ambitious project undertaken by our branch  and would “blown” our annual budget had due allowance not  been given by the CEO at  Head Office who has been very supportive throughout. The feedback we got at the outset from other branches was very helpful and we have made a number of useful contacts in the process . It has cost ~£600 which is somewhat less than the alternative market- supplied secure bed facility costing £7,000! The bed guards, now undergoing formal evaluation tests, should  become, in time, a useful community facility allowing more clients with similar problems to access respite care.

Update Feb. 2020: Unfortunately by the time this was completed, the intended service user had been transferred to another provider for long term residential care along with his bed (from his home) . This equipment lay unused for a while before being used on a few occasions for another temporary resident with similar needs. Sadly the respite unit was eventually closed down and the unit’s equipment dispersed!

end of 2013 special project