The Bedroom

The bedroom is like a sanctuary where you spend time resting, convalescing and sleeping, to enable the body, mind and spirit to heal. In the worst stage of the illness, it is probably the place where you will spend most of the time. So it is important to organise the bedroom to be a safe and comfortable environment, and suited to your needs.

Helpful Hints

Sleep downstairs to avoid climbing stairs.

Sleep in a room close to an ensuite or bathroom.

Ensure your mattress provides appropriate support.

Doonas are lighter than blankets and provide better warmth in winter.

If you are unable to change sheets/doona covers yourself, then ask for help from family members/friends/council home help, or pay for private home help.

Pillows of different sizes and shapes arranged to support the back, neck, and arms, enable you to lie or sit in bed more comfortably during waking hours. The banana shaped pillow, ‘TRIPILLOW’ or wedged pillows, are useful additions to standard pillows.

Choose products made from natural fibres such as cotton or wool, rather than synthetics. Natural fibres allow the body to breathe, resulting in greater comfort.

If your hands become cold in winter while sitting up in bed reading or engaged in an activity, try using a wheat bag which can be warmed in the microwave according to instructions (available at chemists), a hot water bottle with a fleecy cover, for safety and comfort, (only if you are able to safely fill and carry it), or wear fingerless gloves which keep the hands warm but allow the fingers to operate freely.

Ensure plenty of fresh air and adequate ventilation both day and night.

Outlook to a garden or courtyard view is more pleasing to the eye and helps you to connect to the outdoors. If you do not have an outlook, then a bedroom facing north or east would ensure a brighter or warmer room in winter when the sun is shining.

Blinds or curtains that block out the light help adjust the level of brightness according to your tolerance to sun and light.

A room with plenty of natural light during the day helps to uplift your mood. You can expose parts of your feet, legs, hands and arms to the sun for short periods, adjusting curtains and blinds as needed, if you are not sun intolerant.

A bedside table, not too high or too low, to enable easy reach without expending undue energy.

A bedside lamp, preferably with on/off switch within easy reach when in bed.

A “Thermos” flask or container filled with filtered water or your favourite drink within easy reach is especially useful at night, or when in bed during the day. This will also serve as a reminder to drink regularly.

Always get out of bed slowly to prevent falls. Manoeuvre yourself to a sitting position on the edge of the bed, with feet slightly apart firmly touching the floor. Raise yourself to an upright position with the help of both hands pushing against the bed, or holding on to a stable bedside table. When you feel steady enough on your feet, move forward in the usual manner.

When you feel able to move about the house, but may still suffer from lack of co-ordination and weakness, the use of a walking stick or holding on to sturdy furniture as you move may help. An assessment from an Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist is recommended to determine appropriate assistance requirements, especially if you live alone. See Resources Guide.

A personal assistance call service allows you to summon help immediately in an emergency or a fall, especially if you live alone. Simply push a button on the pendant which you wear, and help can be organised for 24 hours a day. See Resources Guide.

A telephone is an essential item by your bed:

  • in an emergency if you are bedridden
  • a means of social contact with family, friends, and the outside world
  • if you do not have a telephone plug in your bedroom, the choices are preferably to get a plug put in, or to use a long extension cord to reach into the bedroom
  • it is important to have a telephone that does not need mains electricity and will still work in a power blackout, to enable you to ring for help in an emergency (even if you also have a cordless/hands free phone that needs electricity to work)
  • a cordless phone gives you the convenience of taking the handset with you around the house or just outside, and can be put onto speaker and used hands free when you wish to put down the handset
  • a headset with microphone and earphones can conserve energy during extended conversations
  • an answering service can be set up to take calls when you do not wish to answer the phone

A commode placed next to the bed can be an energy saving item, especially handy during the night; but if you have special needs due to your medical condition, then seek further practitioner advice. If you do not like the appearance of a commode in the bedroom, cover it with a throw rug when not in use.

Room temperature to be maintained at an even level for those who suffer from sensitivities to heat or cold.

The use of air conditioners, fans, curtains lined with block out material, and outside blinds, can all help to reduce the sun’s heat.

A bowl with water placed in a safe place will help keep the atmosphere from becoming too dry as the water evaporates.

Always turn off electric blankets before going to sleep as a safety precaution.

Have a small table or chest of drawers to keep frequently used items nearby, such as a transistor radio, portable radio/compact disk/cassette player, writing materials, books, etc.

A comfortable chair can be used for sitting as well as for propping clothes on when you are too exhausted to hang them in the wardrobe at the end of the day.

A small bar fridge and microwave, placed on a small table preferably at waist height in or near the bedroom, (but not too close to the bed), can be useful when you are bedridden and carers are not available. Pre-prepared food and drink can be stored in the fridge and quickly heated in the microwave, saving a trip to the kitchen.

A lightweight bed tray is handy for working on when sitting up in bed, such as when writing, doing simple craft work, playing cards, etc.

Implement your own ideas as well for setting up the bedroom to meet your individual needs.

Remember an Occupational Therapist can assist and advise on the best solutions to meet your needs. Contact your local Community Health Service.

Resources

Council Home Help

Contact your local council and ask to speak to the Intake Worker for services such as Household Assistance, Meals-on-Wheels, Personal Carers (help with showering, etc.), Property Maintenance (for minor repairs), and Assisted Transport Services (for the frail, aged, or disabled).

Private Home Care Agencies

Australian Home Care (Camberwell)

Phone: 1300 30 37 70

www.ahcs.org.au

Silver Circle (Moorabbin)

Phone: 1300 66 00 22

www.silvercircle.com.au

Private providers of Personal Carers

Check the Yellow Pages Directory under:

  • Aged care services
  • Domestic help services
  • Nursing services

Equipment/Advice

Independent Living Centre (Brooklyn)

Phone: (03) 9362 6111, Freecall: 1800 686 533 (Victorian Country)

Ask to speak to an Occupational Therapist for assistance and advice.

Victorian Aids and Equipment Program

A Victorian Government Program providing subsidised aids, equipment, and home modifications to support independent living. Brochure is available in a range of languages. Contact Department of Human Services Regional Intake and Response Service:

Freecall: 1800 783 783

www.dhs.vic.gov.au/disability

Local Community Health Service in your area

Can assist with a range of services, including Podiatry, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Dietitian, Counselling, and social activities.

Personal Assistance Call Services

MEPAC

Servicing southern and eastern Victoria

Freecall: 1800 451 300

Safety Link

Servicing northern and western Victoria

Freecall: 1800 813 617

www.safetylink.org.au

Telecross

A free Red Cross service.

Phone: (03) 8327 7763

www.redcross.org.au

Private Emergency Response Services

Listed under Aged Care Services in the Yellow Pages Directory

Blessed Earth

Complete range of organic clothing, manchester, and bedding

Phone: 1300 732 933

www.blessedearth.com.au