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This year we are providing two Acheeva Beds for Lancasterian School in West Didsbury, Manchester, a special school for children aged 3-16.

The pupils at Lancasterian School have a range of special educational needs, including profound and multiple learning disabilities, physical difficulties and complex medical conditions. All of the pupils need postural management, but several have extremely limited physical movement, which impacts on their breathing if they are not in the correct position.

Kira Bühler, the deputy head teacher at the school, told us about one of her pupils. “In Sunflowers class for pupils 7-11 years old, we are finding it challenging to support a specific young man who arrived in the UK several years ago, but spent the first year in hospital due to his high support needs. Being in hospital for a long time has impacted his mental wellbeing, as well as his posture declining as he grows bigger.

“As a result, he finds being left alone challenging and will cry and start to aspirate and cough when he feels alone and anxious. This means using a static changing bed or mat will distress him. He also has significant visual impairment and his arms are fixed in angles, which makes independently exploring his environment difficult. He requires suction, and lying him on the floor on mats or wedges can leave him vulnerable to the cold.”

Acheeva Beds are unique beds that allow children with physical disabilities to lie in a supported, balanced posture while participating in classroom learning. The bed is compact and easily moveable, and its angle and height are adjustable, enabling the pupil to be at eye-level with their classmates, which increases their sense of inclusion.

Kira says: “A Graduate Acheeva Positioning Bed would mean we can position him correctly, but he can then be alongside his peers and ready to engage with classroom activities. The bed is adjustable in height and can tilt, enabling us to support him to access all activities in a way that supports his engagement and awareness, while being able to undertake suctioning or gastronomy feeding without needing to distress him by moving and rolling him too much.”

“In addition, an Acheeva Bed would enable him to access the outside learning spaces comfortably without having to sit if he is in pain. This pupil would use the Acheeva Bed for the majority of his time in school and it would significantly impact his comfort, wellbeing and engagement in learning.  It would also be used with other children at times when he was not using it. Another six pupils in Sunflowers class would also benefit from using the Acheeva bed.

“In Rose class we have a mixed age group of pre-formal learners, eight of whom are on postural management programmes. We use a wedge on the floor for some pupils, but this is not ideal from a manual handing point of view and pupils also end up being very isolated away from their peers due to a change of height. An Acheeva Bed would make a huge difference to the experience pupils have at accessing the curriculum and improve the quality of provision in the school.”

Access to this postural equipment will allow pupils at the school to attend their lessons in greater comfort and enable staff to deliver physiotherapy programmes that are vital to maintaining good physical health and wellbeing. It will enhance children’s participation in curriculum activities, which in turn improves their learning and self esteem. The learning station will also be especially beneficial for pupils who have recently undergone surgery. Without the support it provides, they may struggle to access all sessions.

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