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10th March 2014

Sitting Comfortably?

Sitting ComfortablyAnyone who has worked for any length of time with people with profound and multiple learning disabilities (PMLD) will be acquainted with the beanbag. These items of soft furniture have long been employed to provide seating for those with physical challenges who cannot use ‘ordinary’ furniture. As a student nurse in the late seventies, beanbags were a godsend, because prior to this, many people spent their whole life in bed, in long wards with others in the same way.

Sociable Seating

It’s a good thing for people to be able to participate in social activity, through being able to sit in the lounge and watch TV or listen to music, and using a beanbag to get them included is not wrong. However, people who find it hard to move are most at risk of developing body shape distortions. This is because they often sit and lie in limited positions, and beanbags can be part of the problem.

Busy staff often think that because a person looks comfy, this is the best way to help them. Sadly, this is not always true and often over time the beans slide and move, reducing support and causing pressure area risk.

24 Hour support for posture

The most important thing in ensuring good postural care is the assessment of this individual and their specific needs. This can result in the provision of totally personalised seating; a moulded wheelchair for example. For fortunate Service Users, a wheelchair and a comfy chair can be available to give relief and allow a change. The most fortunate will also have a nighttime sleep system to provide relief and support in bed.

You see, good posture is not just a daytime need. There is little point in having a phenomenally expensive adapted wheelchair and then a regular bed mattress at night. Spending upwards of eight hours in an unsupported bed can undo much of the good work the daytime posture care achieves.

Good posture is not just about the obvious, comfort, breathing, access, and skin care. The development of extremely contorted shape over time can put strain on all of the major organs and lead to severe consequences for the individual.

Postural care is about using the right equipment and positioning techniques to help protect and restore body shape. The earlier the intervention, the better - but it is never too late to start protecting someone's body shape.

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*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

Ginny Tyler

Learning Disabilities Specialist

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