Mattresses – are your mattresses causing harm?
Mattresses aren’t just something to lie on but if not maintained and cared for appropriately, also have the potential for causing harm.
As I travel a lot for work, I have the opportunity to test many different mattresses, all with varying degrees of comfort. This reminds me how difficult it must be for those who may be suffering painful joints to get a good night’s sleep. Appropriate mattresses are not only required to reduce pain from positioning discomfort but also reducing risk to residents. This include ensuring the mattresses are of a suitable standard and fit for purpose.
I’ve seen a number of mattresses which had hardened and torn linings and were well past being able to provide much comfort or an appropriate degree of pressure support. Some had masking tape used in an attempt to cover splits in the mattress cover. Others had holes in and were badly stained from exposure to body substances. As the residents in care are becoming frailer, with increasing acuity, the need for ensuring appropriate pressure support is crucial to preventing pressure injuries, maintaining comfort and maximizing the opportunity for good sleep.
There is the potential for old and in poor condition mattresses to be a potential source for infection transmission. For those of you operating newer facilities, this may not yet be an issue. For older facilities, part of stock and resource control should include mattress stock checks to verify they are in fact still fit for use. When conducting checks, determine the mix of mattress types you have and speak with your supplier about a replacement programme should this be necessary. As mattresses differ, so do beds and it’s important to make sure the mattress you use is appropriate for the particular bed type and size.
When reviewing your mattress stocks and purchasing new mattresses you might like to think about the following factors:
- Only purchase from reputable suppliers. Review the manufacturer’s instructions for use to ensure they include verification of cleaning instructions and ask about preventative maintenance. This may include staffing training e.g. via the use of online training videos or instruction booklets.
- Make sure you record the date of purchase and do your best to track each mattress and pillow to maximize warranties and make plans for replacement. Add the item to the facility cleaning schedules for regular cleaning and drying of exterior surfaces which should be durable, water-repellent and quick drying. They should also be seamless, if possible. When there are seams or edges, much sure these are situated away from resident skin contact to prevent absorption of liquid into interior and increased friction.
- All seams must be tightly closed and sealed. Masking or packaging tape is not appropriate for sealing. When mattresses become worn and tear, you might like to have a supplier representative review to see what options are available for repair or replacement.
- When reviewing the condition of mattresses, inspect all mattress surfaces, covers, seams and zippers for proper function and damage including wear, tears, splits, cracks, punctures, permanent odours and stains. If visible contamination from body substances are present, determine appropriate steps (eg. replacement or repair).
- To support longevity of mattresses, remind staff not to place any furniture or sharp objects on mattresses. Protect the mattress with mattress protectors only if advised by the supplier this is appropriate. A number of pressure support functions in mattresses may be adversely impacted by the use of additional mattress coverings to do check.
- Cleaning and disinfection must be considered in relation to mattresses, covers, wedges, cushions and pillows which are all classified as non-critical medical devices. Clean and low-level disinfect according to the manufacturer’s instructions between different resident use and when visibly soiled. Some mattress covers are removable for laundering so remember to verify which ones can be cleaned separately.
- Remove damaged or stained items from service and report these in your maintenance book or to the Manager. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for use and disposal of damaged mattresses, covers, and pillows, and in accordance with infection prevention and control guidelines.
- Ensure when using alternating therapy type mattresses that there is a process in place for a shift by shift verification that the pressure is maintained at the current level for the individual resident utilizing that mattress. If you plan to use an air alternating topper pad on a mattress, ensure it’s suitable for the mattress as depending on heights and size, it may not be appropriate.
Harm prevention can also be supported with advances in technology such as Pressure Monitoring sensing devices to ensure appropriate pressure distribution. I’m not aware of anyone who can rent or lease out Pressure Mappers in NZ. However Cubro have one that they can bring onsite to facilities for training and education. Make contact with your supplier to see if they can assist if this could be useful for you.
Also remember that other devices used in beds should be checked as well to ensure they are still safe and appropriate for use eg; wedges, rolls, pillows, seat cushions, mattress covers (where these are appropriate for use), bed sensor monitoring pads. For reading on how to choose the best mattress option for your needs go here.
For more related information view here.
Article compiled by Gillian Robinson (RN, BN, Lead Auditor) for Healthcare Compliance Solutions Ltd.