What is a bariatric bed?

Posted on 12 April 2024 in Care Beds

When delving into the topic of bariatric healthcare, one of the common questions that is often asked is ‘what is a bariatric bed?’. Unlike a standard hospital bed, a bariatric bed is a specialist piece of equipment that has been specifically designed to accommodate larger patients.

Many plus-sized individuals need a care bed that includes extra width, length and weight capacity for an increased level of comfort and safety. A bariatric bed helps support those care needs, as well as helping increase their independence and comfort.

To help you learn more about bariatric beds, we’ve put together a quick overview of what they are, how they help and the options available.


Bariatric Beds – What are they?


If you search for the term bariatric, you’ll see that it derives from the Greek word ‘baros’, meaning weight. When applied to care beds, a bariatric bed is simply a bed designed to provide superior support, comfort and safety for heavier patients. There isn’t an official weight limit to be described as bariatric, but usually bariatric beds are able to hold a weight anywhere between 226kg and 500kg.


Adjusting position of bariatric care bed

Usually bariatric beds are able to hold a weight anywhere between 226kg and 500kg


Used in hospitals, care homes and hospices, these specialist beds usually include adjustable height and lumbar supports, reinforced steel frames and a heavy-duty mattress. The mattresses that are included tend to be thicker and sturdier than standard mattresses, providing additional comfort and support. Another common feature are reinforced side rails, providing extra protection against falls.


How big is a bariatric bed?


Whereas a typical hospital bed may be around 37” – 39” in width, and around 80 inches in length, bariatric beds offer much more flexibility. Typically, they range between 36”, 42”, 48”, 54” or 60” wide and 80” – 88” long. More recently, bariatric beds are including adjustable widths as standard, enabling care environments to use bariatric beds as standard ward beds and adapt for bariatric patients.


Best Bariatric Beds


What are the benefits of a bariatric bed?


Many people assume that these types of beds simply provide higher weight limits over a standard hospital bed. In actual fact, they offer a whole range of benefits to both users and care staff. Take a bariatric mattress for example. They provide the right levels of support for heavier individuals, helping prevent excess pressure that can cause discomfort or pain when sleeping and lead to health issues such as pressure sores.

Adjustable positioning is another key advantage, especially to enhance patient comfort. For instance, some beds can reconfigure into a chair position, such as the Low Chair, enabling patients to easily move from a sitting to a standing position or vice versa, as it stays close to the ground level.

Another example is double auto-regression, a position where the backrest and knee brake are inclined, while the middle section of the bed widens to facilitate the patient’s shift in weight distribution.


Versatech Bariatric Bed


Safety is always at the forefront of healthcare equipment. In the case of bariatric beds, they include a number of different features to help minimise risk to both patients and care staff. If you look at the frame of a bariatric bed, they will often be made from stronger components to facilitate the person’s weight.

Split siderails are also a common feature, allowing the siderails to move independently with the head-end and foot-end of the bed. When the user is sat up, the siderail will still be alongside them, ensuring they have the correct levels of support and feel secure in the bed. In addition, added safety features such as backup batteries, nurse call connectivity and an easy release brake all help reduce risk in case of emergencies.


What is the best bariatric bed?


Did you know that there were one million admissions to NHS hospitals in 2019/20 where obesity was a factor? With such a huge demand for bariatric care equipment, choosing the right bed for your care environment can be a tricky task.

There are a variety of different bariatric beds to choose from, offering a wide range of benefits and features that include a safe working load of 500kg and large anti-static castors for easy manoeuvrability.


VersaTech 1100 ULB Bariatric Bed

VersaTech 1100 ULB Bariatric Bed


A key factor to consider is to think about whether that piece of equipment actively promotes independence for the individual. Any feature that helps patients have more mobility is such an advantage. This could be as simple as a height adjustable function to allow the patient to reach a low point from the ground, allowing their legs to be moved and lifted more easily onto or out of the bed.

Check out our ‘What are the best bariatric beds in the UK’ blog to help you see which options are best suited for your needs.


VersaTech 1100 ULB Bariatric Bed with VersaDrive


As mentioned above, with so many options available for bariatric beds, finding one that meets your different care needs is a challenge. However, new innovations are helping to make that less of a problem. The VersaTech 1100 ULB Bariatric Bed with VersaDrive heralds a new era where automation is playing a far bigger role in bariatric care.

VersaDrive is an advanced motorised wheel that uses sensors to detect the bed’s intended direction of movement. Using intuitive automation, the system automatically adjusts the bed in the right direction to reduce the risk of strain injuries for care staff when pushing a bed. In addition, it also enables professionals to be in constant visual contact with the patient.


Versatech 1100 Bariatric Bed

VersaTech 1100 ULB VersaDrive helping reduce strain injuries for caregivers

Not only is the VersaDrive a unique innovation for the VersaTech 1100 ULB, it also remains unrivalled in the market as the only bariatric care bed with a safe working load of 500kg, whilst remaining just 21 centimeters from the ground, helping to enhance fall-prevention protection.

Read our news article on the launch of the VersaTech 1100 ULB with VersaDrive in partnership with Rotec International.



In this blog we’ve provided an overview to answer the question of ‘what is a bariatric bed?’. From delving into their specific features and benefits to highlighting the options available, this blog has given you an insight into the bariatric bed world. Another question to ask is are UK hospitals prepared for bariatric patients? 

If you are looking for support to enhance quality of care for bariatric patients in your care environment, get in touch with our team using the form below.

Can we help with anything?

Be sure to use the contact form and reach out to us if you have any questions about the content above.