A Guide to Hospital Beds

Hospital beds come in many shapes and sizes with lots of different functions. They’re designed to cover every possibility in care environments, so they can be a bit intimidating if it’s your first time looking at them. There are so many options to choose from and lots of advantages so here’s our guide to hospital beds.

Let’s take a look at a few different things to look out for.

How big are hospital beds?

This varies depending on the model, but our hospital beds tend to be around 220cm in length, and 97cm in width. This should cater to the average patient; however, some bed suppliers may offer specialised models to suit taller users and bariatric individuals.

For instance, our hospital beds are all available in paediatric and bariatric sizes, and they all include built-in length adjustments so taller users can keep comfy without having to switch bed.

Some suppliers now specialise in creating beds with slightly narrower external dimensions that are slim enough to fit through doorways with no hassle. The Interlude range is a great example of this.

A narrow Interlude hospital bed in a hospital room
Some hospital beds are available in narrow sizing for smaller doorways.

Manual or Electric?

Hospital beds can either be totally manual, semi-electric, or fully electric. These are just different ways that the positioning of the bed can be changed.

A manual hospital bed will include cranks to adjust the position and height of the mattress platform. Any time that the position of the bed needs to be changed, someone has to physically do it.

As you can imagine, this is particularly pesky if you have a patient who regularly needs repositioning. On the plus side, manual hospital beds are cheaper.

Semi-electric models combine manual and electric functions to create a more flexible bed that requires less physical labour and handling. Generally speaking, any footboard or headboard adjustments can be made electronically simply by pushing a button.

However, the height of the bed is still handled manually. So really, a semi-electric model is good for someone who doesn’t require too much height adjustability but might need more regular foot and head repositioning.

Fully electric hospital beds are typically superior in how easy they are to use and the amount of adjustability they offer. These models are plugged into an electrical socket and can be controlled through a handset, or a control panel on the bed itself.

Through this, you can control the head and foot sections of the bed, and the height of the bed itself. Some electric beds also boast additional adjustable features, like the Interlude range.

We wholeheartedly believe that hospitals should now be using fully electric beds to ensure the best quality care and minimal risk of injury to staff.

An Interlude hospital bed in profiling position using electric adjustment
The Interlude hospital bed range use electric adjustments and functions to make it much easier on caregivers to use them.

Accessories & Additional Features

Many hospital beds will be equipped with a range of features to make it even easier to care for the patient; from Trendelenburg and Anti-Trendelenburg positions, to X-ray plates and IV poles.

Lots of hospital beds now come with built-in siderails to prevent the patient from falling out of bed. This is a great step forward as it ensures that the bed is adhering to siderail regulations.

If hospital beds don’t have built-in siderails, it is possible to buy a pair to fit the bed. But beware, these may not adhere to siderail regulations and could actually cause harm to the patient if installed incorrectly.

Every model in the Interlude range is available with split siderails and metal concertina siderails, making it easier to reposition the patient without compromising their safety.

The Interlude Newcare V3 bed with split siderails is included in the guide to hospital beds
Additional features are available to make any bed as customised as necessary. This will help to improve the quality of care provided to the patient.


Ultimately, you want to be looking for the best hospital beds available if you want to ensure the best quality of care. These should combine easy-to-use functions (i.e., being fully electric with numerous repositioning options) with comfort to keep patients and hospital staff happy and well.

To determine what kind of bed to go for, you really need to look at exactly what you need from your hospital bed. This may depend on which ward it will be situated on, or what kind of patients will be using it – but any good hospital bed supplier should be able to help you out with all of this.

Needing extra advice on hospital beds?