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Back supports for beds

This section includes equipment to support an individual’s back while in bed. Some are designed to accommodate the size and weight of a heavier user. 

Freestanding backrests sit on top of the mattress, have a wooden or metal frame, and the angle of the supporting surface can be adjusted for use under pillows. Most fold flat for storage.

Pillow lifts are mains or battery powered and rest on top of the mattress and under the pillow to lift you to a reclined or sitting position in bed. Sometimes the pillow is part of the equipment. They are similar to mattress inclinators but are narrower, giving less support.

Mattress inclinators are electrically or battery powered devices that help an individual to sit up and lie down. They are placed under the head-end of a mattress to raise the mattress to form a backrest, where they can remain raised to form a backrest to support a sitting position. They are available for single or double beds. Most are controlled with a handset with either two separate switches or a rocker switch, however alternative controls, e.g. a joystick are sometimes available.

Adjustable Back Rest
Backrest for use on top of a mattress. Comprises: epoxy coated steel frame; mesh sling. Adjustable via ratchet system.
Adjustable Backrest
Free standing backrest for use in bed. Comprises: tubular coated steel frame; wipe-clean fabric; adjustment to five positions. Folds flat for storage ...
Adjustable Backrest
Adjustable angle backrest for use on a bed. Comprises: epoxy coated, tubular metal frame; one-piece fabric back support. Support bar at back of backre...
Adjustable Backrest For Bed
Adjustable backrest for sitting up in bed. Comprises: nylon fabric; adjustable angle; folds flat to enable storage and portability.
Adjustable Bed Backrest With Pillow
Adjustable angle backrest. Comprises: steel frame with mesh and a polyester pillow; five-position angle adjustable backrest; folds for easy storage.
Arena Bed Lever For Adjustable Beds
Grab handle designed to attach to a profiling bed to assist with transferring in and out of, and changing position in, bed. Comprises: attaches to the...
Bed Back Rest
Adjustable angle backrest. Comprises: coated metal frame with plastic fittings; mesh fabric; removable padded head support; six backrest positions; fo...
Bed Back Rest
Mesh back support for sitting up in bed. Comprises: manual mesh back support; adjustable from 45-60 degrees;for use with a divan bed.
Bed Back Rest With Head Cushion
Adjustable back rest for use in bed. Comprises: metal frame covered in nylon fabric; adjustable angle; supplied with pillow.
Bed Back Rest With Head Cushion
Adjustable bed backrest. Comprises: free standing bed back rest; adjustable in height through five positions; powder coated frame covered in nylon fab...
Bed Ladder Strap
Bed ladder that enables user to pull themselves up to a sitting position while in bed. Comprises: webbing construction; five handhold loops; bed attac...
Birling Backrest
Adjustable angle backrest. Comprises: coated metal frame with plastic fittings; nylon fabric; removable padded head support; five backrest positions; ...
Comfort Knight Pillow Lifter
Portable powered pillow lift for use on single beds, or one side of a double bed. Comprises: steel frame; actuator; anti-crush device; transformer box...
Deluxe Bed Rest
Adjustable backrest. Comprises: chromium plated steel frame; flame retardant vinyl back; adjustable to four positions. Folds flat for storage and tran...
Dreammaster Light Mattress Elevator
Mattress elevator. Comprises: made from box section aluminium; width adjustable to fit single, double or king size beds; two straps for attaching to t...
Dreammaster Mattress Elevator
Mattress elevator with option of knee-brake. Comprises: adjustable width metal frame with straps to secure position; powered actuator; handheld contro...
Dublin Lift Ease Bed Aid
Tubular steel grab rail. Horizontal section of rail slips between mattress and bed platform to secure position. Vertical section extends to provide a ...
Easylever Bariatric Bed Grab Rail
Grab rail designed for the bariatric user. Comprises: designed for divan beds; strap kit to secure the rail's position on the bed; can be fitted to si...
Buying equipment

There are several factors to consider when purchasing equipment.

Making complaints and reporting unsafe products

In most instances a complaint should initially be made to the supplier who provided you with the item. CAB has a range of guidelines on their website on making a complaint about poor service or faulty goods. These include complaining by phone, complaining in writing and template letters. CAB advice about making a complaint.
If you are not satisfied with the supplier's response then you may choose to complain to:

  • an ombudsman scheme
  • a regulator
  • an independent mediator
  • a trade association (if the supplier is a member of one)


Safety incidents involving medical devices can be reported to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on the GOV UK website www.mhra.gov.uk or their Adverse incident centre hotline 020 3080 7080. The MHRA is the government agency responsible for ensuring that medical devices and medicines work and are acceptably safe. Their definition of 'Medical devices' includes devices used for assisting patients and users, thus many daily living aids such as bath lifts, commodes and walking sticks are medical devices. Any incident involving the safety of a medical device (including safety issues with its instructions for use) should be reported to the MHRA, especially if the incident contributed to, or could have caused injury, life-threatening illness or death.

Buying from a private person

Buying from a private person gives you fewer rights. You will only be able to claim against the seller if the product doesn't match its description or if the seller did not own it. Consequently, some firms occasionally pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal responsibilities towards customers. If you suspect this has happened to you find out about your rights and what action to take on the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) website https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/consumer/ or call 0345 404 0506 to speak to the Citizen Advice consumer helpline.


The length of the manufacturer's guarantee does not limit any claim you may make to the seller as if a product develops a fault outside the guarantee period you can still claim against the seller if you can show that the fault was unreasonable at that period in the products life.


You may be asked whether you would like to purchase an extended warranty. Remember that your statutory rights exist, under the Sale of Goods Act, whether or not you choose to buy their warranty and whether or not the goods came with any guarantee. Manufacturers' guarantees are separate from the automatic rights you have against the seller, and may be more limited. For more information read the Citizens Advice Bureau guide to guarantees and warranties.

Maintenance and insurance

For large complex items, such as a stairlift, check what kind of maintenance contract the supplier offers.

Membership of trade associations

Some suppliers are members of a trade association. Many of these trade associations have a code of practice that governs their members' customer service, and thus may help to project you from unscrupulous selling practices. For example, some trade associations prohibit their members from contacting people uninvited to try and sell their products. They may also prohibit their members from using high pressure selling tactics such as offering a discount if you order that day, or phoning their manager while demonstrating the equipment to you to agree a 'special discount/deal'. Thus if you have a choice of suppliers for the product you wish to purchase we recommend you consider the suppliers who are members of trade association.

We record suppliers' membership of several trade associations (see a list of these trade associations) and our ratings give greater weighting to trade associations with codes of practice which are approved by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) (e.g. the British Healthcare Trade Association) or governed by an audit scheme which meets the requirements of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS).

We also record whether suppliers meet the ISO 9000 series of standards. These standards define a Quality System which certifies that formalised business processes are being applied, and thus may be another indicator to look for if you have a choice of suppliers.


You may be able to purchase equipment designed for use by disabled people without paying the VAT if you are 'chronically sick or disabled', and you are buying the item/s for your own personal or domestic use. For VAT purposes, a person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they:

  • Have a physical or mental impairment which has a long-term and substantial adverse effect on their ability to carry out everyday activities.
  • Have a condition that the medical profession treats as a chronic sickness (e.g. diabetes).
  • Are terminally ill.


So, you won't qualify if you're only temporarily disabled or incapacitated (e.g. if you have a broken leg).

Examples of products which are likely to qualify for VAT relief (if intended for the personal or domestic use of a chronically sick or disabled person) include:


  • wheelchairs
  • stairlifts
  • computer software or hardware designed specifically for disabled individuals
  • kettle tippers, tap turners, button hooks and similar gadgets or devices that are designed solely to make everyday tasks easier for disabled individuals
  • artificial limbs
  • vehicles that have been adapted for use by a wheelchair or stretcher user


Price is important but, if we list more than one supplier, it is important to look for more than just the cheapest price. Check when the prices were last updated (this should be stated under each price). Consider whether:

  • Postage/delivery is included (if shopping by mail order or online)
  • Is the supplier a member of a trade association? (see below)
  • Is one supplier listing the price with VAT and another without VAT?
  • Check the suppliers' returns policies and any guarantees / warranties (see below).
  • For complex equipment that requires maintenance and/or servicing check what's included in the price and what the ongoing costs will be.

Get advice and an assessment

Experienced therapists or trusted assessors know a lot about products and will help you make sure the product is right for you now and will continue to be suitable in the future. 


You may be able to get an assessment and advice from social services. GOV.UK website
Alternatively you may choose to pay for a private occupational therapist. If you wish to request a private appointment with an occupational therapist then you can obtain details of local private occupational therapists from the 'College of Occupational Therapists Specialist Section - Independent Practice' (COTSS-IP) website. www.cotss-ip.org.uk or phone their enquiry Line: 0845 129 7699.
You can check whether a therapist is state registered with the Health Care professions Council (HCPC) at www.hcpc-uk.org/audiences/

Try before you buy

You can find out about products and try them out, with independent advice at an Independent Living Centre (ILC). There are about 30 ILCs in the UK. Most do not sell products but they will be able to tell you where to buy them. We recommend you make an appointment before you visit

You could view equipment at an exhibition. They are a good opportunity to see what's available and meet the competing suppliers. The main exhibition of equipment is NAIDEX, held annually at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, and Glasgow. www.naidex.co.uk

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