How to seat bariatric residents?

Bari means weight or pressure in ancient and modern Greek (Deitel and Melissas, n.d.). The term ‘bariatric’ is used for people who weigh over 25 stone. One in four of the UK adult population is obese and this is expected to rise to one in three in the next 10 years! (Learner, 2017)

With this being the case, care facilities are needing to adapt their care environments by installing specialist equipment and hiring more staff to enable the moving and handling of residents. Not only this, but overweight residents are at increased risk of pressure ulcers due to lack of mobility and their wounds can take far longer to heal.

One element of care for a bariatric resident is the seating. A variety of tasks are usually carried out when seated such as reading, eating, watching television and socialising. A good posture allows us to carry out these tasks whilst feeling comfortable and secure. 

Seating is an area which can be problematic and challenging to both the resident and staff. As a bariatric resident may have limited mobility due to their weight and size, a lack in proper equipment and training can lead to manual handling injuries and pressure damage. When choosing a chair, look for one that:

  • Keeps the resident comfortable
  • Keeps the resident supported
  • Aids in the prevention of pressure damage
  • Maintains their independence
  • Assists in the moving and handling of the resident

Unfortunately it isn’t a ‘one chair fits all’ scenario. Most of the time when we sit, we are carrying out another activity. We will very rarely sit completely still and being uncomfortable may cause your resident to fidget in order to relieve pressure build up.

Key details about the resident need to be taken into consideration to accommodate the physical needs of the user as well as supporting the activities being carried out whilst in the chair. Details such as body weight, proportions, range of movements and needs must be considered.

When purchasing a bariatric specialist chair, comfort shouldn’t be compromised. We have listed some of the key features to look for:

  • Designed to accommodate those with increased body weight and physical size.
  • Heavy duty frame, control box and transformer.
  • Tilt in space function to help reduce shearing on the skin.
  • Optional headrest cushions and fully adjustable back cushions to provide outstanding comfort.
  • Padded chaise and high backs to support the resident when in the reclined position.
  • Interchangeable seat cushion which can be replaced with various pressure relieving cushions
  • Available in a healthcare fabric that provides 4 way stretch, so it conforms to the patients seating position, ultimately making it more comfortable as well as providing increased pressure relief.
  • Rise function to support standing positions
  • Castors to enable the resident to be moved to different areas of the care environment
  • Padded arms and wings
  • Full support to the patient’s legs

OSKA are experts in the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers through specialised equipment. If you would like advice on choosing a chair that best suits your residents please do not hesitate to contact us.

Click here to read a quick blog from Sylvie Hampton on overweight patients and pressure ulcers. Warning: This blog contains graphic imagery.