Case study - how equipment helped Eric Rivers

Eric Rivers

Eric Rivers is terminally ill with Motor Neurone Disease and could not continue to live at home, until he received an assistive double combination bed as part of a complete adaption and make over by the BBC DIY SOS team.

Requirement: Assistive bed to share with partner and to help with difficulties caused by Motor Neurone Disease
Product: Double combination bed with height adjustment and profiling action

BBC researchers were looking for a height adjustable and profiling bed that Eric could continue to share with his wife, would help with his care and blended into Eric's home. They also needed many adaptations to their two-bed terraced house so that the space was practical both for everyday living and as a care environment. Without a specialist profiling bed, Eric would not be able to remain at home due to the levels of pain he was enduring at night and his wife was desperate for a good night's sleep.

The OT working with the BBC recommended a supplier who provided a 5ft 6in wide double combination bed. It encompasses two separate sleeping platforms with full profiling and high adjustment for Eric and a static side for Davina. This allows the couple to continue sharing a bed whilst benefitting from independent function on Eric's side so that Davina is not disturbed during the night. The profiling allows Eric to position himself so that comfort is maximised and the height adjustment ensures getting in and out of bed is safe and controlled. As the bed consists of two separable halves locked by a latching device, it can be split and one half moved on smooth rolling castors so that Davina has access to both sides of Eric's mattress. This is essential for her so that the risk of back injury is minimised whilst caring or hoisting Eric in the future.

The two individual bed surrounds and wall mounted headboard were upholstered in a contemporary fabric chosen by the DIY SOS on-set designer Gabrielle Blackman to match the new bedroom colour scheme. A multi-positional grab handle was also added to Eric's side of the bed to assist him with repositioning during the night and when standing up. Both sides were equipped with a luxury pocket sprung mattress which delivers excellent postural support.

Eric was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease 18 months ago which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks the upper and lower motor neurones. Degeneration of the motor neurones leads to weakness and wasting of muscles which causes increasing loss of mobility and difficulties with speech, swallowing and breathing. Eric, his wife (51) and three daughters (aged 6, 11 and 13) were nominated for the TV programme by two close friends who felt they desperately needed help, especially as their compact house was unsuitable for all their needs.

Following the nine-day build which involved the addition of an extra loft bedroom, a vertical mobility lift, wet room and comprehensive structural and aesthetic redesigns, Eric and his family's new home was revealed to them by Nick Knowles and the BBC crew. This emotional unveiling also gave Eric chance to thank the large number of tradesmen and suppliers who had participated in this life changing event. This project, along with the provision of the specialist assistive bed, meant Eric could remain in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by his family and expensive care costs could be avoided.

A few weeks after the programme had been filmed, the difference the bed had made to Eric's life was considered to be 'phenomenal' by himself and his family. Eric concludes: 'The improvement in my mobility since owning a double combination bed is absolutely astounding and I can honestly say the change has been almost instantaneous. My physiotherapist has been so impressed with the reduction in my leg spasms and the stiffness in my legs is not so pronounced. Before I slept on my new bed, I was in constant pain during the night and regularly would have to get up which left me feeling extremely drained during the day. Now I have the capability to position myself independently and can rest at the perfect angle of elevation without disturbing Davina who is now enjoying the best night's sleep in over 12 months.'

'We are both more active during the day and our children's quality of life has also vastly improved. The bed relieves pressure on my muscles and breathing at night is so much easier. Before we had a mattress lifter to adjust the angle of my pillows, however it was very unreliable and always involved readjustments during the night. Now I can go to bed with my wife by my side in the knowledge that we can both remain comfortable all night long.'

Case study supplied by Theraposture

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