With funding in the NHS and hospital discharges creating pressure on health and care services on a daily basis, it is possible to find equipment solutions yourself with help from British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) members.
This guidance article is designed to advise consumers about the options available when self-funding (paying for equipment yourself) that can help you or a family member return home quicker and maintain an independent life.
Some independent living products are less expensive than you think and can make all the difference between a longer stay in hospital or a quicker discharge. Accepting using a product that improves your independence can also prevent the need to go to a hospital in the first place.
Member companies have skilled and trained staff across the UK, who are already working closely with the NHS and other healthcare professionals and are uniquely placed to help.
Take the first steps by talking to your local BHTA retailer and find out about the products that can assist you to be independent and mobile.
Choosing the right product for you
We have put products you might need into room settings to help guide you through the types of things you might want to consider to help you around your home. There are many products that are affordable to make things easier for you.
If you have arthritis or have had a stroke, there is shaped handle cutlery that gives you a better grip to help you eat. They are easy to take with you when eating out, so you can enjoy your meals without having to ask for assistance to have food cut up. If you prefer your own cutlery, foam grips can easily slip on to give you a better grip.
Cups with lids and two handles, plates with raised edges, together with non-slip mats can help you eat. Other useful items to consider are openers for jars and tins, cleaning and cooking equipment, a wheeled trolley, or a one-handed tray, which will enable you to move food from the kitchen to the table.
Living room choices
That designer sofa that you bought years ago can suddenly be too low if you’re struggling to sit down or stand back up. You can choose block raisers, making it easier to get on and off, but if this is a struggle you can choose a high-backed chair that can be tailored to your height.
If you need assistance all the way to standing, a gentle riser recliner chair with motors will lift you to a standing position at the touch of a button. Relaxing is the opposite flick of the controls. With a wide range of fabric, you can choose a chair to match close to your existing furniture.
As we get older, it’s not always easy to bend the knees to sit on the toilet, so there are many choices you can consider to improve the situation. A four-inch raised toilet seat on top of your existing toilet can help you to sit down without the help of a carer.
If you’re a bit unsteady and have balance issues, a toilet frame with seat can help you to get up and down easier. These can sometimes save having a commode in other rooms, such as the bedroom, but the choice is available to meet the different needs of everyone. Some commodes can have a dual function as a shower chair, giving the additional benefit of two ways of independent living.
Having a bath sometimes becomes more difficult when you are unable to lift yourself in and out and lift your legs over the side. Portable bath lifts can offer a solution. The bath lift sits in the bottom of your existing bath, and, once you have side transferred onto the seat, the battery-powered motor lowers you gently into the water to enable you to relax and wash. The advantage of a bath lift is that some are removable for other bath users in the home and can travel with you in the car if going away on holiday.
Another useful washing aid is a non-slip bathmat, designed to make bathing safe and create a secure environment.
If a bath is no longer an option, some BHTA members will be able to offer level access showers or a wet room, but these require specialist advice and assessments.
Handrails and bannisters down the side may just be the help you need to navigate your stairs, but when getting to your bedroom becomes too difficult you still have choices.
Stairlifts or through-floor lifts allow you to stay in your own home longer. It may seem like an expensive option, but compared to the cost of moving house or into a care home, this could be a better option to consider.
BHTA members have the knowledge and skills to advise you what your best solution is. They can help guide you through any grants that may be available.
Specialist profiling beds, rails, and pillows can make a difference to a great night’s sleep. If you have to spend more time in bed, profiling beds offer you multi-positioning allowing you to sit up, lie down, and help to redistribute pressure by the ease of changing position. There are plenty of choices you can make inside your home to make life easier and are all available through your local BHTA retailers and suppliers.
Sometimes you can manage to move around the home but going further afield can be another challenge. The next section demonstrates some of the choices you may wish to consider.
Walking can become more difficult and reduce the range you can travel in your local community or further afield. If you need a small amount of walking assistance, a rollator shopping trolley can offer you support when walking, and some have seats to allow you to rest when you need to.
Mobility scooters open up further choices depending on your aims, and a BHTA retailer will be able to advise you. A lightweight transportable scooter can be dismantled and put into the boot of your car for visits to other places and to take on holiday. These will offer a reduced battery range, as their size is smaller to make them easier to lift.
A mid-range scooter for use on the pavement offers bigger batteries, longer range, and better kerb climbing with larger wheels. These are ideal for getting to your local shops.
If you have been a car driver, the loss of a car may mean that you want to consider a mobility scooter for use in the road, allowing you to go further. These can go up to 8mph and may offer you the range to continue your adventures and go that bit further.
Help and advice is free from all BHTA member companies, all of which sign up to our Code of Practice, allowing you to buy with confidence.
Sarah joined BHTA in April 2018.
After graduating with a Masters in English Language from De Montfort University, Sarah works across all BHTA publications (including AT Today and THIIS).