Case study - how equipment helped Ernie Burton

Ernie Burton

Single bed turning system allows sculptor and charity worker Ernie Burton with MS to remain at home

Requirement: Getting in and out of an assistive bed safely and independently
Solution: Single bed turning system with lifting pole

Ernie Burton, 65, from Bexleyheath East London, has severely restricted mobility due to Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and spinal problems. A rotating and profiling bed has helped him to be able to continue living at home with his wife Val.

Ernie has lived with MS since 1963; however it has only been in the last 10 years that his condition has drastically deteriorated. MS is a complex, unpredictable and progressive neurological condition that affects around 100,000 people in the UK and has many symptoms that can, amongst others, severely reduce mobility.

Before taking early retirement at 53, Ernie was a highly skilled roofing surveyor and worked regularly across London on many prestigious properties such as The Houses of Parliament, Admiralty Citadel and The Victoria and Albert Museum.

After he finished his career, Ernie continued with his passion for sculpture, model making and gardening and continues to this day with his charity work and support of the MS Society. Being able to remain at home has meant his four children and five grandchildren can still enjoy visiting their Dad and Grandad at home and the family do not have the worries associated with nursing care costs.

The bed he chose offers a unique solution to an everyday problem - getting legs into and out of bed. This is achieved by a rotational action that will sequentially transfer the user from a sitting to a sleeping position with the touch of just one button. In Ernie's case, his bed delivers independence as it is a real alternative to hoisting and carer assistance. In his situation the bed is paying for itself many times over as the cost of care is so high these days. The bed can be encompassed into one half of a double combination bed if preferred and rotate to either side ensuring it is compatible with any room situation. In addition to its unique rotation, his bed also has a profiling and variable height function with the latter helping to achieve a standing transfer if needed.

The bed has been installed with a lifting pole, as repositioning in bed can be difficult for Ernie. This optional lifting pole has an overhead adjustable handle providing increased leverage and reduces the strains associated with moving in bed.

As he studied sculpture at Sidcup Art College and has exhibited several times, Ernie's home contains an impressive collection of clay and plaster sculptures and pots. His other passion for model making and horticulture has resulting in an array of model ships being displayed and a front garden which won the 'Bexley in Bloom' competition several years ago.

As his motor skills are now very limited and he uses a powerchair to remain mobile, Ernie channels his energies into work for the MS Society. Ernie explains: 'Supporting the MS Society, namely the Bexley and Dartford branch, is very important to me. It was one of the very first branches to be established around 1965 and I have supported it from day one with members now numbering around 200. We are finding it increasingly difficult to raise funds to help people living with MS as these uncertain economic times continue and are always looking to raise awareness of the disease. My wife was the Chair for over seven years and I am now responsible for organising transport of individuals with MS around the local area whilst managing our society's charity-funded holiday home in Eastbourne. Being involved with the society still gives me great satisfaction and know this has only been made possible through the support of my beloved wife and the comfort and independence of remaining at home.'

Ernie concludes: 'My bed has been so fantastic, it has changed my life. Before owning it, I commonly had spasms in my legs when trying to get into bed and sitting up was becoming impossible. With the profiling capability I now have in bed, I can easily achieve the perfect position and enjoy a comfortable and undisturbed night's sleep. Pressure is relived on my back and swelling in my legs is reduced. Exiting or entering the bed is controlled as I can be transferred to and from a seated position via a standing aid that reduces discomfort and back strain for my wife. I can move from a seated to lying position with the aid of the rotating and profiling action of my bed which is superb, I could not live here without it.'

Case study supplied by Theraposture

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