Medical Equipment a.k.a. D.M.E.

Medical ScooterDurable Medical Equipment covers a lot of things, large – hospital beds to small – catheters. Many items are found in a good Medical Supply store and online. Most cities also have a secondary market through Temples, Churches, Thrift stores and so forth which will carry used equipment like: walkers, canes, wheelchairs, scooters, bedside commodes, Hoyer lifts, shower chairs or benches etc. Some medical equipment is covered by Medicare and other insurance or parts of the item. For instance, for a Lift up Chair, the motor is covered and the other parts of the chair are out of pocket.  You may check with Medicare and usually a DME store will know all about pricing and coverages.

Proper Use of Equipment

When a new gadget or item is introduced into your life and home, some training is required. Wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds, canes, Hoyer lifts and Oxygen for instance require some education about how to properly and safely be used. Same is true for different types of monitors, i.e. for glucose/sugar, nebulizers and more. Ideally at point of purchase or delivery you will learn some things and then read the manuals. Try things out in the store. Know the Return Policy.  As medication education is a trigger for a Nurse visit under Medicare for someone who is homebound, any equipment for mobility can trigger need for a Physical Therapist. You may wish to consult a PT and your doctor on what type of cane, walker, and wheelchair is best suited for your condition and lifestyle. Training by a professional is for both the user and their family, usually the spouse or a parent in cases involving children.

Caregivers and Assisted Devices

When hiring a caregiver or aide it is very important to let the Home Care company know (they should be asking you) of any medical equipment used, whether mechanical or analogue. Even when trained on some items such as a Hoyer lift, electric chairs, hospital beds, if the aide hasn’t used them in a while, they may need a refresher review by the client or family member. Certainly if the aide has no experience with some things, catheters, ostomy bags, different types of walkers, then it is not the best match. Of course, these things are usually picked up once shown. In the state of Florida, HHAs, and CNAs can only do external care, not invasive. For instance, the hired caregiver through a licensed Home Care company can empty and clean the urine or ostomy bag and twist it back on but nothing more. It is best to request only a Certified Nurse Assistant to be the caregiver. Some companies will send a licensed nurse out to train the client, spouse and caregiver. This is highly recommended, even if you have to pay for the lesson.

Medical equipment helps to keep people more independent, decrease risk for falling, increase safety, comfort and independence. Some items are more complicated than others so training and experience mean a lot.