Q. Squirrel Medical™ Product Development

Product refinement to improve performance and functionality is an ongoing feature of the company’s approach to equipment provision. Clinician and patient consultation along with the management teams’ insight into new opportunities has prompted the investigation of potential therapeutic solutions to clinical issues. All potential new products are researched for their technical, clinical and economic feasibility prior to development of prototypes by our own in-house team. There are several confidential areas of investigation that are currently being assessed for their clinical, financial and technical suitability. These include new generation pressure redistributing, dynamic and pressure redistributing mattresses. Squirrel Medical™ retains all intellectual property rights on its patented designs.

In September 2003, Squirrel Medical™ became one of the first companies to specialise in the supply of pressure redistributing mattresses to the primary care sector. Whilst the clinical qualities of their dynamics met with great acclaim, they found that in contrast to the highly regulated environment of hospitals, care homes were often treated as trade premises in terms of their power supplies. 

This resulted in power surges, power cuts and voltage drops that sensitive electronic equipment could not cope with. Other factors included ambient temperature, as some care homes would opt to store their mattresses in unheated store rooms and garages, with a summer / winter peak of plus 40 degrees – minus 5 degrees. 

This resulted in minor defects occurring and whilst many of these tended to occur long after the warranty had expired, the Squirrel team decided to meet these challenges head on and  to produce the most robust mattresses available for the care home and independent living sector. 

The Squirrel team decided to evaluate every possible cause of damage that could befall an alternating air mattress during its lifetime, and to use their technical expertise to design out each problem using the latest technologies.

Issues that Squirrel R&D team identified as affecting various types of active mattress within care homes included:

The long-term effects of atmospheric humidity on internal components

The effects of exposing materials, fabrics and pump housing to concentrated ammonia and detergents

Impact damages, short and long term, due to pumps being dropped in use or in transit.

The long-term effects of temperature fluctuations upon both materials and components.

The effects of a mattresses sides being continuously crushed by side rails

The effects of a mattress being profiled on an adjustable bed, under load for several years

The effects of power surges on electronic components

The long-term effect to air cells, air tubes and T connectors due to high pressures being upon the seems and joins.

The Squirrel team identified, with the assistance of their loyal clients and clinicians, numerous design opportunities, some of which are subject to patents (applied for) and must remain confidential, and most of which have been adopted within Squirrels range of dynamic mattresses and seating.

The result of eleven years of perpetual research and design is a suite of robust pressure reducing mattresses, designed to deal with the rigours and demands of the modern care environment.