The Urgency for Improvements to Bariatric Care

The obesity crisis remains one of the most pressing public health challenges in the UK. Recently published figures reveal that two-thirds of all adults are overweight or obese while new findings released by the NHS show that obesity was a factor in more than one million hospital admissions in 2019/20. Indeed, with the Covid-19 pandemic brutally exposing the high risk of serious illness and death that those with obesity face, it is now more important than ever that the focus is firmly placed on the care and supervision of overweight and obese individuals.

Paired with the burden of an ageing population, the pressure on care homes to develop tools that address the obesity endemic and accommodate an increasingly overweight resident population has never been greater. Yet while the Government does appear to be taking this issue seriously – recently publishing its strategy to put in place support for people living with obesity – many on the frontline lack the equipment they need to properly manage and care for their larger, older residents: a 2019 survey of almost 3,000 care homeowners, managers and staff showed that only 41 per cent of homes have the adequate bariatric facilities required to look after obese residents, with a further 12 per cent having to turn people away due to a lack of resources and bariatric equipment. A recent briefing by the King’s Fund focused on how the NHS can work with local partners and engage with communities to deliver targeted interventions to treat and prevent obesity.

Vice President of Strategic Sourcing at HealthTrust Europe (HTE), Nanette Grant, notes the importance of connecting healthcare providers with market-leading supplier communities to source high-quality items – including bariatric beds – to meet the needs of patients and improve patient care; “everything we do is driven by the care and improvement of human life; our offering for these specialised items reflects the evolving needs of society and supports our customers with the continued delivery of high-quality patient care.”

As the proportion of adults living with obesity continues to rise exponentially, the urgent need for care homes to be suitably prepared is showing no sign of slowing. Indeed, it is vital that the care sector is able to look after bariatric residents and patients, with specialist beds, equipment and training at the forefront of this provision.

Often, incorrect patient handling not only negatively impacts the patient, but can also result in staff incurring injuries. Bariatric equipment is uniquely designed to support overweight individuals, featuring increased weight capacities, heavy duty supports and wider widths to meet their needs. In addition to protecting residents and safeguarding their dignity, this specialised equipment protects staff and care workers from strain or injury. For instance, electrically operated profiling beds, capable of safely raising, lowering and adjusting the position of bariatric patients weighing up to 50 stone, do not require physical efforts and therefore, reduce the risk of back injuries (or more seriously, musculoskeletal disorders) which are often associated with heavy lifting to further minimise this risk, training programmes to increase awareness of correct posture, movement and equipment use can greatly benefit the overall health of staff and reduce staff sickness absence.

Yet the benefits of specialised equipment and training extend beyond just the physical movement of patients. People with obesity often require careful management of their skin, given their susceptibility to pressure ulcers, bed sores, wounds and other skin infections which can be exacerbated by ill-fitted equipment. Bariatric beds and chairs have, therefore, been designed to make moving and handling easier for staff and patients and are wide enough so that patients can ensure their own comfort. Some models even offer specialist pressure reducing mattresses with isolated air cushions that can be inflated and deflated while the addition of anti-microbial fabric protection protects against the development of bacteria that can cause skin infections and discomfort.

Bariatric beds, mattresses and cushions can be purchased via our Pressure Area Care Equipment, Medical Beds and Related Services framework. The framework provides a comprehensive range of products and services for use within long term care, home care/community and the acute care covering ad-hoc rental, long term rental, capital purchase and services such as decontamination, repair/maintenance, clinical support and disposal.

Our Safe Patient Moving and Handling Equipment Framework further supports and facilitates the appropriate movement of patients in a Hospital, Residential or Patient Home Environment. It is designed to equip health and social care providers with the latest tools to enhance the safety of patient handling.

If you are interested in finding out more about our Frameworks for supporting Bariatric Care and Safe Patient Handling, you can speak to our dedicated customer care team via 0845 887 5000 or