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Among the biggest challenges we face as a nation today is making the important decision to care for a loved one at home versus putting them in a facility. Our objective here is to offer some basic assistance towards the goal of keeping your loved one at home, which in most cases is exactly where they want to be. This article is not intended to give specific healthcare advice about anyone's particular situation; that is for a qualified healthcare professional to decide. That said, our focus is on potential equipment options that we have that can dramatically decrease the risk of injury, both to the patient and the caregiver alike.
Most of us have paid our entire working lives into Medicare, and there is an inherent desire to want to get a return on that sizable investment. That said, there are some pretty significant limitations within the system, and as a caregiver, you need to know that you have the ability to upgrade the quality of care for your loved one. I would like to show you a couple of items that can dramatically help the quality of care provided at home. The following are all items that are not covered by Medicare, so please understand going in that we are simply trying to show how to improve the quality of care as an adjunct to what Medicare can/will provide.
A few years back, the Federal Government instituted a process for purchasing of products for Medicare recipients called Competitive Bidding. What they did was identify minimum requirements for specific products, and then awarded entire geographic areas to companies who bid on all Medicare recipients in that area. What this did was force a number of major providers of these products to go to the lowest possible quality level and still meet the minimum requirement. In many cases, this meant going abroad to get these products manufactured.
First off is our Floor Bed. The picture above shows that it can be lowered all the way to the floor. We have a published study showing that a long term care facility lowered their injuries from resident falls to $0 when this bed was employed.
Medicare will typically provide what is known as a semi-electric bed frame. These frames commonly do not lower all the way to the floor, which is the best level to help eliminate patient falls, and most importantly, injuries from them. As we're talking about your loved one, you don't want them to get hurt at all. If you can, you should consider purchasing a bed frame that can help to prevent an event like this from happening. Of course, no piece of equipment can completely keep an accident from happening, but a frame that goes all the way to the floor will help to prevent injury over a frame that does not.
Medicare has a system in place to decide when a recipient qualifies for a specialty mattress. These mattresses are also known as pressure redistribution mattresses, as they help to redistribute pressure by use of a pump or blower. Today, for your loved one to qualify for a specialty mattress, there has to be a doctor's order, and if the only reason to prescribe one is for pressure ulcer treatment, wounds that meet certain requirements for both size and severity. So here's the challenge. If your loved one is at significant risk for skin breakdown, but doesn't have pressure ulcers that meet their requirements, Medicare will not provide your loved one with a specialty mattress. They'll wait until your loved one meets that requirement, and then treat for it. Wouldn't it be better to provide your loved one with a higher end product up front to help keep the pressure ulcers from occurring in the first place? Please keep in mind that these mattresses do not replace the requirement for regular (facilities say every two hours) re-positioning; rather they help to redistribute pressure in between re-positioning.
Unfortunately, Medicare also has challenges on the higher end of the scale as well. In many severe cases, the recipient needs a higher quality of mattress than Medicare can provide. We offer a number of solutions to help your loved ones, including products that offer advanced re-positioning such as our Airrapy line.
If your loved one is at significant risk for skin breakdown, and spends a lot of time in a chair, you may want to consider our powered wheelchair cushion as a way to help prevent skin challenges on their backsides. Again, Medicare will not cover these devices, so understand this is a decision for your loved one, not your insurance company.
Regular Cleaning of the Equipment
Regardless of what equipment you decide to get, you will want to wipe it down regularly with disinfection wipes. We offer a low-alcohol solution from Micro-Scientific that can be used to wipe off most all equipment. Be careful to follow the Instructions for Use (IFU) for cleaning of electronics, as well as our IFU for certain surfaces.
Keeping Casts, Wound Dressings and Other Areas Dry
One of the bigger challenges of at home caregiving is bathing/showering. Within that challenge is the keeping of wound dressings, casts or PICC lines dry. We have a complete line of shower barrier products, including ones for casts over the feet or arms. They come with a strap that makes it dramatically easier to keep these areas dry. The strap has a button for easy release after the shower. A key point here is that these products are not made for baths, only showers, so you don't want to submerge these in water. Again, not covered by insurance, but keeping these sensitive areas dry has been requested by your physician.
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