A few months ago, a client told me that she tossed and turned all night – and it was the best night sleep she’s ever had. For many of us, repeatedly turning over in the night can be a sign of restlessness, but for Caitlin and others with a disability – turning over in the night can be a breakthrough in independence. After 12 months of exploration, trials and problem-solving, Caitlin is now able to independently adjust her sleeping position with the help of a Vendlet turning system – something she has not been able to do in years.
For Caitlin (and many others with physical disability), movement in bed may be impossible for them to complete independently, requiring the assistance of family or a carer to adjust their positioning to get more comfortable, ease pain, or prevent pressure injuries.
Many have become familiar with the Vendlet system being particularly helpful in situations where rolling in bed is difficult for carers to do safely (e.g. bariatric clients), however it has been exciting to work with individuals who are able to use this technology to roll themselves or adjust their position in bed without assistance.
For most of her life, Caitlin has required physical support for all of her transfers and personal care tasks, with 2 support workers required for all hoisting, bed mobility and positioning in her chairs. Once in bed at night with the last carers leaving by 10:30pm, Caitlin knew that she could not change her position if she was uncomfortable. “Before I relied on my Dad, brother, sister or carers to roll me. If no-one was home, I couldn’t move and would stay in that same position all night. In the morning I would be stiff and crampy if I had not moved during the night”
After considering other options (rails, bed ladders, leave-in-place slide sheets, ceiling hoist with turning slings) we trialled the Vendlet with the goal of Caitlin being independent in rolling during the night, to prevent the need for overnight carers. “Using the Vendlet has given me the independence to roll myself. I use it to roll myself during care services and at night when I need to roll or move myself. Now I roll myself up to 3 times a night. This can be from side-to-side, onto my back or just to adjust my legs”
While initial trials were successful, there have been some small challenges to overcome along the way: “I have had to learn what the buttons on the hand control do and the right ones to press. I know that I am safe no matter what which has helped me build confidence in using it. We have also worked on systems to stop my blankets from sliding off the bed as I roll. I now use a longer pillow and have an extended cord so that I can reach the control once I have rolled”
One of the biggest benefits is that some of Caitlin’s services have been able to reduce from 2 carers to 1. This has had numerous benefits for Caitlin, including; services being scheduled at more flexible times, rather than when 2 carers are available and the use of the funds to provide other meaningful supports. “I now have a massage at home every week! This is helping my muscles to get a good stretch. I couldn’t do this before as I needed carers here and didn’t have enough support hours. Now I can roll myself during the massage and the Vendlet will hold me in the position that the massage therapist needs. None of these things were possible before!”
Caitlin gives an excited and hope-filled message to others who struggle to move themselves in bed, “Try it out! I don’t rely on my carers and family as much anymore and have so much more independence. I am never stuck in one position in bed anymore – I can move myself!”
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With special thanks – Blog written by Natasha Nutt, Movementum
Permission obtained from Caitlin to share her story.