When five-year-old Tristan Williamson hopped into his brand new Safe Surround Plus Bed from Medifab with his soft toys and said “night night”, it was a special moment for his parents Derek and Anna.
Before the arrival of the bed the Gisborne couple had endured a year of “awfulness” trying to get their young son to stay in his bed and sleep.
Tristan is a busy boy, who has autism, a global developmental delay and limited speech.
“We kept Tristan in a cot as long as physically possible, but once he went into a bed he realised there were no barriers, which made it very difficult to keep him there,” says Anna. “Because of his developmental delay and autism, he had balance and coordination issues and no real concept of his personal safety. Our biggest concern was that he would do dangerous things in the night and we wouldn’t be aware. We knew we needed some kind of safe sleeping solution.”
The Williamson’s have worked with highly experienced visiting neuro-development therapist Jane* since Tristan was around nine months old.
She suggested applying for funding for a Medifab Safe Surround Plus bed, as she believed it was the most appropriate, high quality solution for Tristan’s needs which would also give Derek and Anna peace of mind that he was safe and secure at night.
The Safe Surround Plus bed looks similar to a large cot. It has been designed specifically for children with restless motor functions or seriously disruptive behaviours who are physically mobile and need a safe environment to both sleep and play.
Features of the stylish bed, expertly crafted in beech timber, include a generous interior; superb visibility between the lattices; a contouring sleeping platform to provide postural comfort; and the ability to lower or raise the mattress.
The bed comes in four height options, with optional extras including a pressure relief mattress, internal padding, plain flat platform, incontinent mattress cover and perspex glazing.
It was a long, frustrating year before the funding for Tristan’s bed was finally approved, during which time the Williamsons took turns sleeping on an airbed in his room.
“I work full time and Derek is Tristan’s main carer during the day so needs to be very alert. That’s why we decided to share monitoring him at night. Before we got the new bed we had a lot of trouble getting Tristan to sleep. Then he would wake frequently in the night and because he didn’t understand that night time meant staying in bed, he would get up.”
The Williamson’s got by on “very little sleep” during those long months, but Anna says the improvement since the bed’s arrival has been dramatic.
“Tristan accepted the bed straight away and instantly felt comfortable in it. We’ve even been able to get him into a bedtime routine. He knows some signs, and we can now successfully use the sign for sleep, put him into his bed, brush his teeth, change his night nappy and close the gate and he knows he has to go to sleep. The bed has helped him to understand that night time is for staying in bed.”
Tristan still wakes in the night. But instead of wanting to get up, he now quietly plays with his soft toys and soon goes back to sleep.
He will even hop into the bed and play during the day.
“Although Tristan can’t verbalise to us what he thinks, the bed obviously makes him feel safe and secure. He’ll pile his toys in at one end and sit in the middle. He really likes it.”
Anna says the bed has made a big difference to family life.
“We are all getting a lot more sleep, which Tristan definitely needs now he has started attending a special needs unit at a mainstream primary school. We have very few mini meltdowns at bedtime now. And you can’t put a price on our peace of mind knowing he’s safe. The bed is brilliant and we are really grateful for Jane’s* perseverance to secure the funding for it.”
Jane* says the Safe Surround bed is the ideal solution for children with similar challenges to Tristan.
“I absolutely recommend it. It’s been fantastic to see the difference the bed has made to Tristan and his family.”
She also finds Medifab a quality supplier and good company to deal with.
“The Medifab team is very responsive to requests and come up with good solutions and ideas when you need them.”
* Name changed to protect identity