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Adapted Beds with Sliding Mechanism

The Challenge

The client has twin disabled boys who both have solid wooden-framed beds with removable fronts. The removable side consists of a frame with clear plastic ‘windows’, each 2m long and weighing 12kg, making them very heavy to lift and manoeuvre.

The client was in discussion with their OT to replace the beds with hospital-type beds and Remap was invited to look at adapting these to recreate the front windowed frame. During discussions with the OT, it became clear that the hospital bed idea would require significant adaptation since the current beds had been highly customised with decorative soft surrounds on three sides. Additionally, one bed was wider than standard and the other has a motorised base to assist with sitting up. Crucially, this would have been a major upheaval for the boys as they are very used to their current beds.

The solution

This picture shows the bed before any work was done. The bed front drops into the hooks at each end.

Instead of replacing the beds, I proposed the idea of attaching the bed fronts to the bed frames and making them move up and down. Initially, I thought of using some sash window weights and pulleys to balance the weight of the bed fronts but each weight would need to be 6kg and so quite large and expensive.

I then came across sash window ‘spring balance’ devices which seemed to cope well with the weight. I contacted Caldwell Hardware in Coventry and spoke to Alan Watts who provided vital information and advice. I explained that Remap is a charity and asked if they could assist with a reduced price and they agreed to provide the two pairs of spring balances plus the pulling tool free of charge. Thank you, Alan!

I discussed the project with other volunteers to check if there were likely to be any safety issues. The major potential problem identified was a possible finger trap between the bed front and the bed frame because the bed front would be moved forwards. This gap could be filled by a length of wood if necessary. It was also considered necessary to have a gap between the bedside (in the down position) and the floor for toes to go underneath.

On a second visit, I measured the beds and then was able to make a 3D model of the key parts and to design the mechanism. This comprised an aluminium U channel at each end of the bed fixed to the uprights to contain the spring balances and some 3D printed guides fixed to the ends of the bed front to guide the bed front up and down inside the U channels. Some end stops and locking bolts completed the parts list. Initially, I made the parts for one bed and on visit three I fitted the parts to the first bed. I made a special drill guide to ensure the U channels were fixed in exactly the right places. Once complete we were all amazed and delighted to see that the heavy bed front could now be easily moved up and down with one hand and would stay wherever it was left and could also be locked in position by the two bolts when fully up.








These pictures show the 3D CAD images with the front up and down.

As the first was a success, I made all the parts for the second bed and visited for a fourth time to install them. The client has taken some photographs and made a short video showing the operation of the bed fronts and is very pleased with the outcome.









This picture shows the first finished bed with the front up.

The benefit

The client and the boys’ carers can now easily access the beds without having to manhandle the heavy bed fronts every time. The bed fronts can be moved up and down with one hand and will stay where they are left; they can be locked in the up position for safety. This saves a lot of time and effort for the client.

Our clients were incredibly happy with the outcome and made a short video showing a bed in operation. (Note that the sound is rather quiet).

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