Hospital corners: A ‘must-have’ in aged care or time to go?

Hospital corners

Once upon a time, every bed in an aged care home would have displayed these crisply folded corners. A long-time manager of aged care homes told HelloCare that, in the past, hospital corners were “a must” because they made homes appear neat and tidy, and sheets remained tucked in for longer.

But today there is more emphasis on the residents’ wishes and comfort, and many new-generation aged care workers haven’t been taught to make beds this way. 

In addition, hospital corners are not always suitable. The pressure of tightly tucked in sheets might be too much for residents who have pain in their feet or legs. And some residents simply might not like the feeling of having their bed tucked in so tightly. They may not want a top sheet at all, happy to sleep with just a doona.

Hospital corners can also prevent residents from moving their feet and legs around freely in bed, potentially contributing to the development of pressure wounds. 

Because of these factors, hospital corners are becoming less common. “We let it go,” the former manager told us.

A recent post on HelloCare’s Aged Care Workers Support Group suggested that all beds in aged care should have neat hospital corners. But is that important? 

What are hospital corners?

Hospital corners are a method of making a bed that uses overlapping folds in the sheet to create neat creases and flat surfaces.

Beds with hospital corners are more difficult to untuck. 

Hospital corners were developed in hospitals, but are also used in the military and hotels, and are sometimes a feature of neat and tidy homes).

How to fold a hospital corner

Make sure the bed is clean, and you have washed your hands.

Place the sheet over the mattress. (If you have a fitted sheet, place the fitted sheet on first, and then place the rectangular sheet on top of it.)

Ensure there is equal overhang over each side of the bed and at the base. You might like to line the top of the sheet up with the head of the bed.

Tuck the sheet in along the foot of the bed. 

Pull the sheet as tight as you can and smooth it out to minimise bumps and creases.

Move around to one side of the bed, and take hold of one edge of the sheet, about 10-15cm from the bottom of the sheet.

Pull the edge up onto the top of the bed so it forms a crease, making a 45-degree angle from the corner of the bed.

Let the remainder of the fabric drape down. 

Neatly tuck in the overhanging sheet, while holding the 45-degree angle in place.

Then pull down the fold on top of the bed … 

… and fold it down.

Tuck it under the mattress, creating a neat fold.

Smooth out the creases – and now you have a hospital corner. 

It might be a little clumsy at first, and you might struggle to get the effect you are after, but over time hospital corners will become easier to create.

Top tips

Crisp cotton sheets may make a neater fold than softer, more flexible fabric.

Air pressure mattresses can make hospital corners difficult because they are lighter, more flexible and constantly moving.

Do they really matter?

Many aged care workers take pride in their professional-looking hospital corners. The effect is pleasing to the eye and the beds remain made for longer. Many see hospital corners as evidence of a job well done.

But at the end of the day, what really matters most is the resident’s satisfaction. 

Does the resident prefer tightly tucked in beds that don’t come untucked easily, or would they actually like to have their sheets a bit more flexible? Perhaps the resident doesn’t like to have a top sheet at all, only a doona? Are the tightly tucked-in sheets causing pain to the resident’s feet or legs at all? Can the resident still move about freely under the tightly tucked in sheets? These are all matters that should be considered when making a resident’s bed.

So long as the bed is clean and comfortable, and the carer preparing the bed is smiling and kind and attentive to the resident’s needs and wishes, are hospital corners really that important?

Where do you think? Should all aged care beds be made with hospital corners? Or is it not so important? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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  1. Hi there, I think 💭 it should all Aged Care beds has to be all made with hospital corners as it looks nice and tidy. But, if residents are going to bed it should be loosen up or untucked down the bottom of their feet to avoid pressure sores and all residents are freely and comfortable moving their legs and feet in bed.

  2. It’s something I do at work and at home. Training from years will never change. You can make the Ed less tight and still have corners made this way. I always make sure their feet have enough room for movement.

  3. No there is no need for beds with corners they are most uncomfortable. I remember those corners when I was in a hospital years ago. No freedom for your feet .

  4. My perception of hospital corners is one of ‘factory efficiency’, and just one of many options to consider in giving residents choice. I have peripheral neuropathy, and neuralgic pain in my lower legs so need plenty of space to shift my position in bed. Nursing staff in hospitals are very flexible now and know that the quality of their care will not be judged by an absence of ‘corners’, a superficial measure of quality by any standards.

  5. Personally, I like them the look neat and keep the bed together – especially for restless sleepers. But there is a little trick so the feet don’t feel too tight under the sheet.

    Before tucking in the end of the sheet into the bed, make a small pleat by bringing across a part of the sheet to rest on the other side of the sheet – probably 15-20 cm long. Then tuck in the bottom of the sheet & go from there as your article demonstrates.

    This way you get the neat & well-made bed with the extra space for the feet when you get in with plenty of room around them.

  6. I don’t believe so.. clean sheets and made as neatly and as comfortable or as resident requires
    Staff have way too much to get done already

  7. I believe that the sheets should not be tucked in so tightly, you need room for your feet to move around and also if your feet are hot you can stick them out of the bed, you should not feel like you have a straight jacket around your legs at night!

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