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Patient Care

Giving Patients Dimming Control of Lighting through their Pillow Speaker or Bedside Rail


A common trend in the design of patient care facilities is the integration of pillow speakers, bedside rail buttons or other nurse call devices with the lighting in order to give patients the ability to control some or all of the room lighting from their bed.

Generally speaking, all nurse call equipment is designed to operate using normally open, low voltage momentary contact switches. A momentary button press on a pillow speaker for example allows low voltage to pass through, creating a “pulse” which can be used to signal equipment downstream to perform a specific function, such as calling a care provider for help, controlling the television, or in our design case, turning lighting on and off.

Turning lights on and off is easy to solve, as a simple device such as a switch pack can be used to accept the momentary pulses of the pillow speaker button and toggle the lighting load accordingly. Switching with 3-way scenarios are also easily accommodated by simply adding additional momentary switches. For example, you may want to add a switch to the head wall next to the patient bed so the care provider can turn different lighting zones on or off as necessary.

But what if you want to add the ability for the patient or care provider to dim the lighting?

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