By Rachel Markwood
While most parents choose their child’s bed based on such variables as size and décor, parents of children with physical and cognitive disabilities, bed selection is much more serious. They must be even more cautious about guarding against falls, entrapment and other safety risks. And because safety beds are a medical necessity, they must also navigate challenging insurance requirements.
“Parents, therapists and healthcare professionals come to me when they need a bed for their child that satisfies very specific requirements,” confirms Rachel Markwood, patient advocate for customized beds for special-needs children.
“We understand that the right bed also makes life easier for the child’s loved ones.”
How to select the right bed for your special needs child
Beds designed for special-needs children must, above all else, be safe. Entrapment and falls are real concerns, especially if these vulnerable children are restless or don’t have full control over their body movements. The Food and Drug Administration has identified seven zones of bed entrapment:
- Zone 1. Within the rail
- Zone 2. Under the rail, between the rail supports, or next to a single rail support
- Zone 3. Between the rail and the mattress
- Zone 4. Under the rail, at the ends of the rail
- Zone 5. Between split bed rails
- Zone 6. Between the end of the rail and the side edge of the headboard or footboard
- Zone 7. Between the headboard or footboard and the mattress end
“When determining what a child might need, consider such factors as safety rail heights, as well as how well the mattress fits the bed frame,” advises Markwood.
What should you look at:
What specific behavior or condition are you trying to address with this bed? “A child who has seizures will need padding, while a child who has had a tracheotomy needs the ability to raise the head of the bed by a specific number of degrees. Children prone to jumping out of bed may need certain safety measures – such as more rail height protection – to prevent injuring themselves.”
What is the transfer height? “What mattress height do you need to comfortably and safely transfer the child to a wheelchair or other device for therapy?”
Does the bed include windows? “There’s often a need to see and be seen.” A clear window in the safety rails allows the child to see and be seen.
How much space exists between the mattress and bed? “Entrapment is a very real concern. The space between the side rails, head and foot boards, and the mattress, is nearly non-existent. Even when the mattress is compressed.”
What features or functions do you need in the foundation? “For example, does the mattress need to be fixed or movable?”
What bed size is most appropriate? “Should the bed be a twin, full or queen?”
What wood finish would best compliment your room? “These beds may be considered durable medical equipment but visual appeal is also important. A sturdy, well-designed bed that doesn’t look institutional will also help the child feel more emotionally settled. SleepSafe offers a variety of designer woods and finishes, including maple, oak, cherry, mahogany, white plus a few fun colors.”
Do you have any special needs or requirements? “Choose a company recognized for its expert craftsmen who can customize the bed to your exact needs. Also, pay close attention to any special considerations such as if a child is allergic to certain materials, finishes or fabrics.”
Navigating the Insurance Maze
“Getting insurance companies to pay for a special-needs bed is not always simple or guaranteed,” admits Markwood. If a bed meets specific criteria, it stands a better chance of being approved., meets and exceed FDA standards. Most SleepSafe beds are covered by private insurance and Medicaid.”
She adds, “The right safety bed can impact the quality of life for the entire family. Everyone can rest a little easier knowing their loved one’s needs are being met.”
Rachel Markwood is the Patient Advocate. Immediately following graduation from Roanoke College, Rachel began her career in corporate financial analysis and management. While she continues to value and apply the business skills gained from that experience, Rachel realized early on that she also needed to direct her professional energy towards helping others. As a Patient Advocate, she is well positioned to do just that, working to ensure a safe sleep experience for those with special needs. Rachel lives in Roanoke, Virginia with her husband Adam and their daughter, Eloise.