What are the safe product alternatives to bed rails and how to choose appropriately?

Bed rails are specialist equipment commonly used in care homes to prevent vulnerable people falling out of bed. However the use of bed rails doesn’t come without risks, as if they’re not used safely the consequences for the people you support can include fracture or asphyxiation.

Safe bed rail usage is monitored by CQC as part of the safe use of equipment under Regulation 12,and they have the authority to prosecute if there are any breaches to the safety aspect in the use of bed rails. A provider was successfully prosecuted for a serious by CQC following an accident with the wrong use of bed rails by ordering them to pay a fine of more than £150k, and the provider was rated “Inadequate”.

Here, our MD Jo Bonser, shares her learnings from attending the MHRA course ‘Are your residents sleeping safely?’ including what are the safe alternative products which can be used instead of bed rails.

What are the risks associated with the use of bed rails?

  • Entrapment – when a person is caught, trapped or entangled in the spaces in or about a bed rail, mattress or hospital/profiling bed frame and can result in serious injury or death.
  • Falling – when a person tries to ‘escape’ and climbs over bed rails and falls
  • Injury – entrapment in bed rails can cause skin bruising, cuts and scrapes as well as fractures, strangling and asphyxiation.
  • Agitated behaviour – people can feel frightened and isolated by being ‘caged’ or ‘hemmed in’ by bed rails which are being used as a restraint.
  • Rolling out of bed – when the height of the mattress is level with the bed rails there is a risk of rolling out of bed.
  • Restriction of freedom of movement – can prevent people who are able from getting out of bed to perform routine activities such as going to the bathroom
  • Who are the people most at risk with bed rails?
  • People living with dementia, delirium, conditions of involuntary and uncontrolled muscle movement, physical limitations and frailty are those who are most at risk from bed rails.


Understanding the needs of the resident and finding the best solution with them is the correct intervention when using the bed rails

Bed rails can be very useful for individuals who can benefit from them, however before bed rails are used, there should be a full bed rail risk assessment carried out as per MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency) guidelines


Before choosing a bed rail alternative, you must first establish what the purpose of using it is for

  • Preventing a person from falling out of bed
  • Preventing them from slipping from the bed when sitting
  • Helping to get in and out of bed
  • To pull themselves into a better position when in the bed

You may get one, or a combination of the following items to help you with your loved one’s needs


Here’s a range of practical alternatives to bed rails which are easily obtained and can also be used in combination with one another to make a safer bed environment, and negate most risks


If a person is falling out of bed when they are sleeping, a low or floor bed can really help, as it can be lowered to as little at 67cm from floor level, so that if they roll off the mattress, the bed reduces the impact and allows the user to roll safely to the floor or a fall mat. Low beds are designed for use without the need for side rails and can be raised for getting into and out of bed and for any caregiving which is done on the bed.



Are designed to be used in conjunction with low-level beds, and placed on the floor on both sides of the bed to ensure that residents don’t injure themselves if they fall out of the bed with no bed rails. They are manufactured from high-density foam. NB, these mats are not suitable for people on end-of-life care or who do not move in bed.




Side wedges are designed to be placed on a mattress to raise up the sides in relation to the centre of the bed, so a person sleeping can’t fall out of the bed. They are large wedge shaped pieces of high-density foam with breathable and wipeable covers together which come complete with a breathable connecting sheet that connects underneath the bed by durable straps to hold the wedges in place. Handy tip: Using 2 pairs together will cover the full length of the bed for added security and peace of mind.


Bed leaving sensor alarms, pressure mats with alarms, motion sensors and pagers, call buttons and pagers plug directly into the nursing system and alert you as soon as someone tries to get out of bed. They are becoming increasingly popular in the falls prevention sector and are also available as a wireless option with a pager.




You can view our fit for purpose range of product solutions in our “Safe alternatives to bed rails” section here. Lets get started

If you would like any further help or advice on choosing safe alternative product options to bed rails, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch on 01773 713713 or email us at sales@hcsuk.co.uk or chat to us on our new live chat function.



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Customer Testimonials

“We’ve built a strong working relationship with Hcsuk over many years, having used them to source, install and service our medical training equipment. We have always found the team very professional, helpful, and well-organised. We’d like to give a particular shout out to Phil, the technician / engineer who has been the consistent friendly face visiting our business to inspect and test our mobility hoists every 6 months. Thank you for all your support and advice.”

P. B. (Care Manager), Blue Bird Care Ltd

You are part of a great company, if we can help you grow by contracting you out to our sites its good for you, but it’s great for us because your service is fantastic, very efficient, everyone within Hcsuk is super helpful in answering queries and every time we’ve had an issue, Hcsuk has always been there to solve the problem almost immediately, which is fantastic.

Leicestershire County Council

Truly exceptional levels of customer service, the best I have experienced for many years. Very helpful staff made follow up calls to ask how the equipment was performing and supplied extra user instructions to supplement the manufacturers manual. I would not hesitate to order from this company again.

Savills Estate Agents

We would just like to pass on our thanks for all of your help with our orders and would be pleased if you would also pass on our thanks to the manufacturers for being so accommodating in meeting our requirements. We have found everyone very helpful.

Lincs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

Since I set up the account for Hcsuk over 18 months ago I have found them to be an excellent advocate of our products. They have been willing to learn about the technical and servicing elements to our hoists and the sales staff have really taken on board and proactively promoted our range where possible. I feel that as a company Hcsuk have got the desire and right people in place for growing in this competitive industry. They seem to push themselves to go that little bit further and offer that little bit more to stand out from the rest. May our relationship continue going from strength to strength.

Joerns Healthcare

As a care home manager I have used Hcsuk for my supplies for the last 20 years in two homes. I have always found them to be helpful and reliable. Their products are of the highest standards, they are able to source anything. The delivery service is prompt and regular so I do not have to keep large amounts of stock. They supply extra services such as servicing and repairs which are done efficiently, and training in COSHH. The reps are pleasant and helpful bringing new products to my attention but are never ”pushy”. Aftercare is good, any problems soon sorted. I would recommend them highly and would not think of using anyone else.

Littleover Nursing Home

HPC have supplied Hcsuk (Health Care Services Ltd) for well over a decade now and we would consider them to be a high quality and professional business run in an organised and progressive manor. We do not rank our customers or have a preferred customer status but if we were to introduce such a scheme I can confirm that Hcsuk would easily make such a grade.

HPC Healthline

As a manufacturer we look for key values in a distributor some of these include honesty, reliability, commitment and reputation. Hcsuk carry all of these and many more. With a twenty plus year working relationship we now place Jo and the team at the top of our distributor list. I have no hesitation in recommending Hcsuk to any prospective manufacturer or customer and wish Jo and the team all the best for the future.

Cleenol Group Ltd

It is brilliant that we are able to ring Health Care Services and that you will go the extra mile to get us the stock we need as soon as possible.

Rykneld View Nursing Home

Just to say a huge thankyou to you and your fantastic team, and I mean that from the Heart. I have never before experienced such a person centred company.

Hampton Grange Nursing Home

What I like about working with Health Care Services is the relationship we have built up and the personal service. The homes report that you always deliver on time, the quality is consistently good and the prices competitive. Your team members are always willing to go that extra mile for us and if ever we have an issue there is always someone there to save the day.

Eastgate Care

Thanks to Jo for going over and above to get us our items in time for our special event at Buddleia House – it was very much appreciated. A massive thankyou for your continued assistance as a supplier to ourselves.

Buddleia House

We have always received excellent services from everyone at HCS at our 2 care homes, especially Lee, Jo and Phil. Always professional with a quick response time. Nothing ever seems too much trouble. Recently I had to use them personally for equipment to enable my mothers discharge from hospital. I had a response within the hour for prices and delivery came straight from the manufacturer to speed up delivery. Phil arrived at the same time to put the equipment together for us! I can’t thank them enough for putting our minds at ease and for the continued support from a personal and professional perspective. I’d recommend them to anyone requiring care equipment and its nice to support local businesses. Especially when they do such a good job!!

Orla House

I contacted HCSUK trying to find a hoist that could be operated unaided by the client. I had become very disheartened, no-one was really helpful until I spoke to Donna at HCSUK.

Donna was incredibly understanding, her professionalism raised my spirits again. Everything Donna said she would do she did, including arranging for me to speak to Andrew the salesman who like Donna was incredibly helpful, happy to bring two machines to demonstrate.

I can’t recommend them highly enough. They are good people.

Penelope C

I spoke to Lee Atterbury 2 weeks ago, when I was despairing about the prospect of finding any equipment to help my husband in the bathroom. I had tried all the popular brands, but none were right for his needs.

When I spoke to Lee he understood what I was saying and set about trying to find what we need. He was so patient and understanding and gave me the confidence to explore outside the box.

I spoke to Lee today and was able to tell him that we, hopefully, have found the solution. I am sorry that it was not a product you sell, though you may in the future, but will certainly look first to HCS for other products.

Thank you so much to Lee for first class customer service.

Christine G, Sheffield

VAT Relief Information

Conditions for VAT relief for disabled people

Some of the products which can be purchased from the Hcsuk website are available for an eligible person to purchase without paying VAT on them. HM Revenue and Customs sets out the conditions when equipment for disabled people might be free of VAT and how to claim exemption from paying VAT on these products.

Products a can only be exempt from VAT when all the following conditions are met:

  1. The customer is eligible to purchase supplies at the zero rate
  2. The goods are for the personal or domestic use of the customer
  3. The goods and services are eligible to be supplied at the zero rate

A more detailed explanation of each of these conditions is given below, but you should visit the HM Revenue and Customs Website to fully understand the conditions

The product must be being purchased for someone who is chronically ill or disabled.

A person is ‘chronically sick or disabled’ if he/she is a person:

It does not include a frail elderly person who is otherwise able-bodied or any person who is only temporarily disabled or incapacitated, such as with a broken limb.

‘personal or domestic’ use means that the supply must be made available specifically for the use of an eligible individual.

You don’t have to physically buy the goods in person. If your parent, guardian or wife or husband buys the goods and services for you, then you won’t be charged VAT.

What counts as personal or domestic use?

Personal or domestic use means that the goods or services are supplied for your own private use, rather than for business purposes. Also, the goods or services must be just for your own use – not for use by anyone else, or chronically sick or disabled people in general. However, if you and your partner are both chronically sick or disabled and you buy goods or services for both of you to use, then you won’t have to pay VAT.

Products which are offered for sale on this website which qualify for VAT relief to be claimed for an eligible person.

The products which can be bought without paying VAT are:

Only the products on our site carrying the VAT exemption price (the smaller price marked ex VAT) are eligible to be purchased this way and you must tick the box on the basket page indicating that you wish to claim VAT exemption on the items in your basket that are eligible for VAT relief.

How to claim

On the my basket page of this website a link to the online declaration form is provided if the basket contains a product that qualifies for VAT relief. You must tick the box to state you wish to claim VAT relief on the eligible product and complete in full the reason by which you are ‘chronically sick or disabled’ and name and address of the claimant. If possible the person making the claim should complete this form, but a family member, carer or medical professional may complete the form on the claimants behalf. To submit the claim and receive the VAT relief, click the ‘Submit VAT Relief Claim’ button before proceeding to the checkout.

Please note that all orders submitted with a VAT relief claim form completed are checked before the order is processed.

It is necessary to complete a separate claim form each time a qualifying product is purchased from Hcsuk.


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