Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario

Mobility and Support Surface Assessment

A mobility and support surface assessment should include an evaluation of the following:

  • the person’s and his/her caregiver’s level of activity;
  • the person’s ability to shift and reposition;
  • the person’s size, weight, and height;
  • factors contributing to the person’s comfort and discomfort (e.g., pain resulting from movement)
  • the number, severity, and location of existing pressure injuries;
  • continence and other sources of moisture (e.g., some support surfaces can wick moisture away from the skin);
  • the need for head elevation;
  • the need for transfers; and
  • the person’s living situation.
  • Head elevations greater than 30 degrees place more pressure on bony prominences. However, persons with ventilators, tube feeding, breathing issues (e.g., chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), dysphagia, and chronic heart failure may require the head of the bed to be elevated to 30 degrees. In such cases, the increased risk for complications (such as the risk of ventilator-acquired pneumonia when the head of the bed is less than 30 degrees) outweighs the risk of placing pressure on bony prominences.
Clinical Management
Assessment and Management of Pressure Injuries for the Interprofessional Team, Third Edition
Point of Care Resources