Safe Bed Exit Side: Which is Your BEST Side?

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am always looking for information resources to help you create a safe environment in your home that also maximizes your independence and safe mobility. Of particular importance is how you get out of bed, as well as into your bed. Why, because people fall trying to get out of bed, rather than getting into bed – the biomechanics are very different.

To exit the bed, you have to move to the edge of the bed, lower your legs over the side of the bed, roll onto your side, push up to a sitting position using your elbow, sit on the side of the bed and make sure you are steady before standing. Next, you prepare to push off the bed to stand up against gravity. Yes, getting up out of bed is complex and requires muscle strength and momentum to lift of the bed. In contrast, to get into bed, you simply back up until you feel the bed on the back of your legs, bend slightly at your waist, reach back to support yourself on the bed, and then lower to a sitting position – gravity takes over and next you are sitting on your bed.

For many older adults, one’s ability to get up and out of either side of the bed varies – many adults have a preference for the side of the bed to sleep on. However, a safe bed exit side may exist for you, and be helpful to you. The safe exit bed side is the side of the bed that is easier and safer for you to exit. As an example, If you experienced a stroke and the left side of our body was weak and impaired, you should be exiting on the right side of the bed. The left side of your body is impaired and cannot support one’s body to obtain a sitting position. The safe bed exit side is the right side. The same safety approach applies if you have had a right knee replacement, right hip fracture surgery, you should be getting out of bed on the left side of the bed.

As a rehabilitation nurse, I always ensured that my patients exited their bed toward their unaffected, stronger and safer side of their body and bed. This patient safety practice is essential to reduce the risk of you falling when trying to get up from your bed.

Beginning in 2008, I advocated for safe bed exit sides during my work with the Institute for Health Care Improvement Transforming Care at the Bedside Project (Boushon, et l., 2012). This project’s aim was to reduce the risk of serious injuries when persons fall, in this case, falling from bed.

We know that safe transfers in and out of bed is an interaction the physical layout of the room: the position and height of the bed within the room, and the characteristics of each person, such as cognitive status, muscle strength, height, weight and balance.

As a result of this extensive efforts in healthcare to reduce falls from beds, safe bed exit sides have been included into fall prevention programs for older adults – the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) National Falls Toolkit, 2014; VA’s Implementation Guide to for Injury Reduction; and, the American Hospital Association’s Health Research & Education Trust, 2015)

In some organizations, beds will even be moved in rooms so that the side of the bed not to exit from is moved next to a wall if possible, so that only one option exists for bed exit – getting out of bed toward one’s stronger functional side of the body – correct! The safe exit side.

If you have one side of your body that is stronger than the other, you should make sure that you always get out of bed on that same side, but also, turn, turn, turn towards that side when turning to sit down onto furniture – your bed, chair, or toilet.

Patient Education Videos: Getting Out of Bed; Getting Into Bed

To help demonstrate this to you. I found a series of patient education videos that are quick, easy to follow, and linked to fall prevention by reducing risk.

SIKANA, a non-profit organization whose aim is to equip people with practical skills through free education video programs, in partnership with the SIEL Blue Group Association, also a non-profit organization , developed over 50 free exercise videos to improve the health of older and adults living with chronic diseases.

The exercise program is organized in 7 chapters. Chapter 5 has exercises to improve balance. Two videos are specific to safe transfers in and out of bed.

The first video, Good Everyday Habits: Getting Out of Bed, guides you in step-by-step body mechanics to get into bed safely with special focus on reducing risk of falls:

A second video, Good Everyday Habits: Lying Down in Bed, instructs you in step-by-step body mechanics to approach a bed, back up against the bed and then recline on the bed with special focus on reducing fall risk:

In both videos, please note the room set up. One side of the bed is against the wall, creating a safe bed exit side to transfer in and out of the bed. The bed is in a higher height (not low bed height), which enhances safe rise from sit to stand and reverse. Also, note that the bedside stand is positioned at the head of the bed, reducing risk for injury by striking furniture during a fall from your bed.

I hope these resources are helpful to you, knowing that Harmony Solutions remains committed to keeping you independent, while reducing bed-related falls.

I also hope this message is helpful to you and provides easy strategies for your safety. If you have concerns, remember to talk to your Harmony Team. Open communication with your healthcare team helps you to maximize your health and function, essential to reducing your fall risks.

Your Harmony Team is committed to reducing your fall risks, to help you prevent falls, and promote your function and independence.

Your Harmony Team is here to help you!

Thank you for reading this message.

Pat Quigley

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