This case study shows how we helped an elderly client with Parkinson’s regain her independence through advice and provision of specialist bedroom equipment.

Mrs Butcher was 70 and had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years previously. For some time, she had been struggling to get in and out of bed during the night as her legs were too heavy for her to lift.  Occasionally she was able to get out of bed, but then she would freeze and be unable to move or turn – both common symptoms of Parkinson’s.

This was very upsetting for her as she needed to use the toilet regularly, and she also needed to stretch her legs to alleviate stiffness and pain.  Because of her Parkinson’s she had a carer with her at night time, but they were not permitted to support Mrs Butcher with lifting her legs in and out of bed in case they injured themselves.

The local authority occupational therapy team provided Mrs B with a commode to be placed next to the bed.  They also gave her a bed rail to help her pull herself up into a seated position. However, this was not suitable as it did not work with her profiling bed and she was too stiff to use it during the night.

The local authority was not able to provide her with any other equipment to help her get into a standing position or to help her move from the bed to the commode.  She was informed that if she could not get to the commode she would need to use a bed pan or continence pads at night. Mrs Butcher was very frustrated as she had no continence issues and felt that using a pad during the night was degrading.

No one told Mrs Butcher that there was equipment available for private purchase which would better meet her needs –equipment which cannot be funded by local authorities due to their limited budgets.   Mrs Butcher was also not informed of the existence of private occupational therapy companies, which can help clients to explore a much wider range of solutions.

Mrs’s Butcher’s son was naturally very concerned and did not want his mother to be using a bed pan or pads when she was not incontinent.  He was worried that this would be disastrous for her mental health, and that her physical health would deteriorate shortly after.  Fortunately, he was able to research other options and came across Design for Independence.

We helped Mrs Butcher regain her independence and dignity by recommending a rota flex bed; this bed moves the user from a lying position to standing up using a motorised frame.  We also helped Mrs Butcher purchase a Locomotor rota stand to turn her body away from the bed and towards the commode with the help and support of her carer.

Mrs B is now comfortable at night and able to access the commode when she needs to.