Provision of Specialist Seating to Care Home Residents
Previously, we have explored the importance and benefits of good seating for residents of care homes, which can be recapped here. We know that appropriate seating can improve the quality of life for older people by providing;
- Protection from pressure risks and postural deterioration,
- Prevention of falls,
- Enabling greater participation in daily life.
However, there are several challenges to accessing the right seating for care home residents. For many people, it is unclear whose responsibility to provide specialist postural seating is. Is it the responsibility of the care home, the local equipment service or the family to purchase on behalf of the resident? Many healthcare professionals are also unclear about where the responsibility lies.
Often, the provision of static seating is blurred with wheelchair provision, as many residents also require support with their mobility. However, this can lead to the overuse of wheelchairs in care homes, where 80% of residents are thought to spend part of their day sitting in a wheelchair (Gavin-Dreschnack et al, 2010). This can also result in the misuse of the wheelchair service, where residents request a wheelchair to meet their postural needs, which they then use as an armchair (Collins, 2001).
The majority of wheelchair services have strict eligibility criteria for care home residents and will only provide a wheelchair if the resident is going out regularly, meaning that if a resident is rejected for wheelchair provision, they can be left without any appropriate seating. Occupational Therapists and Physiotherapists within wheelchair services are thought to be the most appropriate to support this need as they have the specialist skills and experience required for the assessment and prescription of appropriate seating (Collins, 2006). However, their hands are tied due to commissioning as they are a standalone service for wheelchair provision only.
Many families with good intentions and who can self-fund, obtain seating for their loved one but can make expensive mistakes of purchasing seating that is ill-fitting or inappropriate (Collins, 2001). For example, a standard riser/recliner tends to come in standard seating dimensions and, therefore, may not fit an individual who requires more specific dimensions. They also do not offer adjustability or add additional postural support in case of age-related deterioration or disease progression.
According to the Care Quality Commission (CQC, 2015) care homes should provide a range of equipment to meet the needs of their residents and their health and safety obligations to staff. This may cover standard manual handling equipment such as a hospital bed or hoist for transferring a resident out of bed. However, this does not specifically name postural seating under the term “equipment” and therefore leaves some ambiguity. Is seating considered assistive technology, specialist equipment or furniture? Typically, care homes provide a range of wipe-clean, high back armchairs that meet infection control requirements, but these can pose a risk to residents who require more support for their posture and pressure care needs.
When care homes accept a resident, they have a duty to meet their care needs laid out in their individual care plan (Care Act, 2014). This might include the support required for toileting or feeding, how they are transferred out of bed, for example. Postural care should form part of this care plan. Currently, there is no national care pathway for seating (Collins, 2008).
Guidance on NHS-funded nursing care practice (DoH, 2022) states that ICBs should make appropriate arrangements for individuals who require bespoke equipment to meet specific assessed needs as identified in their care plan. However, the choice of seating products available in loan equipment stores is often limited and inappropriate, with a postcode lottery of provision (Collins, 2008). Service provision is disjointed and relies on the skills and experience of individual therapists’ in the local area, with a lack of clinicians with specialist seating knowledge (Humphreys and Pountney, 2006; Castle et al., 2014). There are also discrepancies about funding responsibilities and ultimately the acquisition of specialist equipment can be a lengthy and bureaucratic process, often with insufficient budgets set (Birth Defects Foundation Newlife, 2007).
How Can CareFlex Specialist Seating Help?
Understanding the critical importance of proper seating in care homes, CareFlex commits to providing solutions that profoundly impact the residents’ well-being and overall quality of life. Our dedicated team acknowledges healthcare professionals and families’ intricate challenges in acquiring the right seating. Therefore, we extend our expertise and resources to ensure every resident receives the support and comfort they deserve.
Comprehensive Seating Assessment:
At CareFlex, we believe in a person-centred approach. Our experienced Specialist Seating Assessors conduct thorough, no-obligation seating assessments to understand the unique needs of each individual. We meticulously evaluate posture, pressure risks, and mobility to ensure a precise and beneficial seating solution. By doing so, we help alleviate the common challenges of finding the right fit, which can be daunting for families and care home staff.
Tailored Solution Service:
Recognising that one size does not fit all, especially in postural support, we offer bespoke solutions beyond standard seating dimensions. Our tailored service accommodates even individuals requiring specific adjustments and enhancements.
Enhancing Participation and Quality of Life:
Our specialist seating is designed to offer more than just comfort. By adequately supporting the residents, we enable them to participate more actively in daily life, fostering a sense of independence and well-being. This aligns with the ethos of promoting a better quality of life through improved postural care support and pressure care management, as outlined in previous sections of the blog.
Collaboration with Healthcare Professionals:
CareFlex values the expertise of Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists, and other healthcare professionals involved in the residents’ care. We actively seek their input during assessments and tailor our solutions to complement their care plans. This collaborative approach ensures that the seating solutions harmonise with the residents’ clinical and postural care needs, bridging the gap often found in specialist seating provision.
Supporting Care Homes and Families:
We understand the ambiguity and challenges care homes and families face in providing appropriate seating. Our team is dedicated to offering guidance, support, and education to help navigate these challenges effectively. By doing so, we aim to empower care homes and families to make informed decisions, reducing the risk of expensive mistakes and ensuring that the resident’s needs are met promptly and adequately.
In conclusion, CareFlex is a reliable partner for care homes and families, offering a comprehensive range of specialist seating solutions tailored to each resident’s unique needs. Our commitment to quality, comfort, and support ensures that residents in care homes are provided with the best possible seating solutions, enhancing their quality of life and overall well-being.
To ensure that your care home is equipped with the best possible seating solutions, we invite you to take advantage of our comprehensive Seating Assessment service. Our experienced Specialist Seating Assessors are ready to conduct a thorough evaluation, ensuring a personalised and beneficial seating solution for every resident.
Additionally, we recognise the importance of ongoing education and support. We offer a wealth of resources to empower care homes and families, assisting you in navigating the complexities of specialist seating. Our dedicated brochure for Care Homes is an invaluable tool, providing in-depth insights, product information, and guidance tailored specifically to the needs of care home environments. Download our Care Home brochure today to explore our full services and products.
For further information or to book a Seating Assessment, please do not hesitate to contact our team. Together, we can create an environment of comfort, support, and improved quality of life for those in your care.
Written by our guest blogger, Lauren Osborne Independent Posture & Wheelchair Specialist Occupational Therapist.
Birth Defects Foundation Newlife (2007) It’s not too much to ask: Campaign Report: Cannock: BDF Newlife.
Care Act 2014. (c.23). The Stationery Office.
Care Quality Commission (2015) Guidance for providers on meeting the regulations. Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014 (Part 3) (as amended).Care Quality Commission (Registration) Regulations 2009 (Part 4) (as amended). Newcastle: CQC.
Castle, D., Stubbs, B., Clayton, S. and Soundy, A. (2014) ‘A 24-hour postural care service: Views, understanding and training needs of referring multidisciplinary staff’, International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 21(3), pp. 132-139.
Collins, F. (2001) ‘An adequate service? Specialist seating provision in the UK’, Journal of Wound Care, 10(8), pp. 333-337.
Collins, F. (2006) ‘Wanted! Expert clinical advice on seating’, Journal of wound care, 15(6), pp. 229.
Collins, F. (2008) ‘An essential guide to managing seated patients in the community’, British journal of community nursing, 13(3), pp. 39-40.
Department of Health (2022) NHS-funded nursing care practice guidance [Online] URL: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nhs-funded-nursing-care-practice/nhs-funded-nursing-care-practice-guidance#equipment
Gavin-Dreschnack, D. Volicer, L. Morris, L. (2010) Prevention of Overuse of Wheelchairs in Nursing Homes. Annals of Long Term Care, Vol 18, issue 6. [Online] URL: https://www.managedhealthcareconnect.com/content/prevention-overuse-wheelchairs-nursing-homes
Humphreys, G. and Pountney, T. (2006) ‘The development and implementation of an integrated care pathway for 24-hour postural management: a study of the views of staff and carers’, Physiotherapy, 92(4), pp. 233-239.
"*" indicates required fields