The rate of obesity in Australia alone is increasing faster than in other places. A study conducted in 2014 showed that two-thirds of adults and one-quarter of children that are in Australia are overweight. It suggests that the health system of Australia is well-equipped to deal with the increasing rate of obesity in patients.

Patients who are severely obese come under a particular category known as specialist bariatric care. The bariatric patients will often fit into two or more of the following categories;

  • Patient body mass index of 35 or more
  • The patient needs to weigh over 120 kilograms
  • The patient’s hip-width needs to be 51cm or higher when they are seated

There are measures that are put into place, so the safest and most dignified manner of care can be applied to these patients. Those patients who are bariatric will be dealt with differently and separately as their care requires more detailed planning, more nursing staff and specialised bariatric equipment.

The requirements for bariatric patients

Bariatric patients are more susceptible to diseases and health conditions. They will often have a reduced life span depending on how extreme their condition is. Chronic illnesses, depression, cancers, heart disease and sleep apnoea are a few conditions that are commonly seen in bariatric patients.

Skin conditions are common in bariatric patients as they have increased skin folds, difficulty maintaining their toileting and hygiene standards and more prominent abdomens. Commonly seen are ulcers, rashes, fluid retention, ulcers in the deep folds and poor blood circulation. The skin will be more prone to tearing and infections, so the nurses need to handle bariatric patients with extra care to prevent skin damage. 

Bariatric patients weigh in over 120 kilograms, so some patients may not even be ambulant. There is a risk to both the staff and the patients if they try to lift the patient themselves manually. The proper equipment, procedures and systems have all been set in a place that makes sure the environment is safe, and the right care is given to the patient. 

All patient care requirements will need to be discussed with the carer, the family and the patients themselves. This creates a perfect time for the patient to share any concerns they may have when it comes to moving and handling requirements.

A detailed assessment will be completed, and once that is done, the specialised equipment needs will be ready when required. Special equipment can be in the form of a wheelchair, commodes, beds, chairs, walking frames and hoists. These are all designed to support the weight of a bariatric patient.

Nurses become at risk for sprains, strains and other injuries due to the extra weight of the bariatric patients. The usual care of a patient for bathing, hygiene, and assisting the patient to do specific tasks are part of the nurse’s job role. Having specialised healthcare equipment and being trained in how to care for a bariatric patient is for the patient and the staff’s well-being.

Bariatric patients need to be cared for at the same level as any average weighted person. It will just be done a little different due to the extra weight and possible risk of injury to the patient and the staff members. 

Bariatric patients need the same level of care when it comes to hygiene, food, drinks and medical care. Bariatric equipment can provide peace of mind to bariatric patients and their family members that they will be looked after with the highest level of care. It can be helpful as a more dignified way to care for bariatric patients, as well as being safer for everyone involved.