Buying Guides & Advice

Side rails for beds: Do I need them?

Side rails play an essential role in keeping vulnerable people safe when in bed.   

Dementia and Alzheimer's are known to cause delusions and panic, which can lead to a person wandering off during the night or waking up distressed and falling out of bed.  

Bed safety rails can prevent a person with dementia or cognitive dysfunction from attempting to get out of bed unsupervised and hurting themselves.  

There are a few different options out there when it comes to side rails, and it's important to find the right solution for the user.  

Below is a guide to various types of safety rails that help keep your loved ones safe while providing comfort and dignity.  

What are the different types of side rails?  

Full-length side rails. 

Full-length – or classic – safety rails are probably the ones you’re already familiar with. They run along the side of the bed and can be lifted up and locked into place or pushed down when out of use by a carer or family member.   

They prevent the person in the bed from falling out of the bed or climbing out unsupervised.  

The Opera Classic Profiling Bed and Signature Profiling Bed have optional full-length side rails.  

 Opera Classic Profiling Bed with full length side rails

Split side rails. 

Split side rails are a popular choice due to their adaptability and versatility.  

With split safety rails, the rail is in two parts, and you can raise and lower the bed without compromising the user's safety. 

The split side rails on Opera's Solo Comfort Plus Profiling Bed can be raised and lowered independently to meet the users' needs.  

Split side rails on the Opera® Solo Comfort Plus Profiling Bed

Mesh side rails. 

Mesh side rails boast a mesh panel that enables the person using the bed to see out. Bed rails can often feel quite restrictive, but being able to see through the mesh panels may help ease anxieties and provide reassurance. 

Regulations for care homes. 

If youre buying side rails for use in a care or residential home, you must make sure youre complying with health and safety regulations.   

While bed rails reduce the risk of falls and injuries, poorly fitted rails can cause fatal injuries.   

In the UK, safety rails are medical devices and fall under the authority of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which enforces regulations to make sure medical devices are safe.   

When being used in a care home or hospital, the employer providing them must ensure they are safe.   

Woman seated on the Opera® Solo Comfort Plus Profiling Bed with split side rails

According to Health and Safety England, you need to make sure: 

  • they are only provided when they are the right solution to prevent falls 
  • a risk assessment is carried out by a competent person taking into account the bed occupant, the bed, mattresses, bed rails and all associated equipment 
  • the rail is suitable for the bed and mattress 
  • the mattress fits snugly between the rails 
  • the rail is correctly fitted, secure, regularly inspected and maintained 
  • gaps that could cause entrapment of neck, head and chest are eliminated 
  • staff are trained in the risks and safe use of bed rails 

Full guidance for side rails, including risk management and ensuring the correct fitting can be found on GOV.UK.    

Do I need to buy side rails? 

Bed rails are necessary if the person youre buying a bed for is likely to injure themselves if they get out of bed unsupervised, or is suffering from delusions during the night. 

If youre unsure whether bed rails are suitable, please feel free to chat with a member of our team. Weve got over 15 years of experience and are always happy to answer questions and help you find the right bed for your needs. 


Find out how Opera could help you with your bed needs.

Contact us, or speak to our experts advisors on 0333 222 8584


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