Monthly Archives: January 2014

Interacting with Mobility Device Users

mobility device users
Earlier this month, EZ-ACCESS wrote an article which focused on how to spread awareness of accessibility.  We encouraged individuals with disabilities to volunteer, become advocates and pursue excellence in education or their career.  To support these efforts, EZ-ACCESS is drawing attention this week to interaction with mobility device users.
The topic of interaction with mobility device users may seem like common sense to those of us who are in wheelchairs, have a loved one in a mobility device or work with mobility device users, but I’m sure you can think of individuals you’ve encountered who do not find these interactions to come naturally.  Instead of becoming offended, break down barriers by sharing these simple tips:

  1. Respect wheelchair users through awareness of your surroundings.  In the shopping mall or your local grocery store, avoid taking up the entire aisle and try to avoid stopping suddenly.  Be sure to share aisles with individuals trying to get around you and walk in the same manner that you would drive a car.
  2. Don’t assume you know the abilities of the individual in the mobility device.  People use mobility devices for many different reasons.  For example, just because someone is in a wheelchair, it doesn’t mean they are paralyzed.  They may be able to take a few steps and are using the wheelchair because they are unable to stand for long amounts of time or possibly have a heart condition.
  3. Greet and speak directly to the individual in the mobility device.  Reach out and offer a hand shake no matter the individual’s condition and address the individual directly.  Consider standing a few feet away so the mobility user does not have to crank their neck to talk with you or offer to move to an area where you can sit down while interacting.
  4. Don’t shy away from figurative expressions such as “let’s go for a walk” as they are not taken literally.  Also, consider avoiding observations that could be taken as patronizing or belittling.  This includes comments such as “Wow that moves fast” or comments that bring up the mobility device unless you have a valid question about it.
  5. Finally, avoid patting the individual or their mobility device unless you have permission.  For individuals with back or spinal problems, this could be painful or the gesture could be taken as patronizing.

Do you have any tips or instances in which you or a loved one was offended by an interaction relating to the use of a mobility device?

Serving on MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service
Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service to honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and put his teachings to action.  Many do this by getting involved in community service for the day, in an effort to strengthen the community and empower individuals.  These efforts fall in line with what we discussed in last week’s blog.  EZ-ACCESS hopes that individuals with limited mobility do not shy away from getting involved in their community to not only strengthen the community, but also to increase awareness of their abilities within the community.
Finding Local Service Opportunities
One way to get involved on MLK Day of Service is to volunteer with existing community service organizations in your area.  You can find these opportunities by contacting your local Salvation Army, Red Cross or Habitat for Humanity organizations to see what projects they have scheduled for this day.  You can also visit http://mlkday.gov/serve/find.php and type in your location to find service opportunities listed in your area.
Creating Local Service Opportunities
Another way you can serve on MLK Day of Service is by planning your own community service project.  Most communities are in need of help with disaster services, economic growth, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures and serving veterans or military families.  Check out tool kits for creating your own local service projects in each of these areas by visiting http://mlkday.gov/plan/actionguides/foundation.php today!
MLK Day of Service is about community members of all ages and backgrounds getting together to make their community better. Whether you are volunteering with a local service organization or creating your own service project, EZ-ACCESS hopes you take this opportunity to grow closer to others in your community, break down barriers for individuals with disabilities and empower individuals to get involved!

2014: The Year for Accessibility

accessibility
Have you put any thought into your 2014 New Year’s Resolution?  If you or a loved one has limited mobility or your life involves accessibility in some form, EZ-ACCESS would like to encourage you to make 2014 the year for accessibility.  Help others with limited mobility by spreading awareness of you or your loved one’s abilities and disabilities.  By increasing awareness, we can help make our communities more accessibility-minded and encourage those with disabilities to live well beyond limits!
How do we spread awareness?

  1. If you or your loved one has limited mobility, show the community that it doesn’t keep you from getting involved.  Get out and get active in the community.  Volunteer and give back to the community through local civic organizations, local charities and local events.
  2. Become an expert in your trade.  This could mean taking classes to fine tune a favorite hobby of yours, pursuing a higher education or striving to exceed expectations at work by becoming a model employee.
  3. Be an advocate for Americans with disabilities.  Be the change you want to see by joining your community’s advocacy groups, taking part in local meetings and speaking out for local accessibility.
  4. Do all of this with a positive attitude.  You can’t encourage others without encouraging yourself first.  Turn off any negative self-talk and find ways to constantly improve your self image.  A great way to do this is by finding a role model.  Look to someone with a disability who has accomplished great things and represented themselves well.

From everyone at EZ-ACCESS, go out and make this year count.  Know that your words and actions speak volumes.  Take the opportunity this year to encourage yourself, encourage others and let the world know what you’re doing to strengthen your community and make it more accessible for generations to come!

An Overview of Home Modification

The HME market is currently filled with buzz words such as “aging in place,” “baby boomer” and “home accessibility,” but these terms are surrounded by much ambiguity on their specific relevance to the DME provider. HomeCare-Mag-January
In recent discussions with DME dealers, I found that many of them have knowledge of various needs and some provide a few products to assist with those needs, but they deal with those needs only based on the products they currently offer, rather than helping each customer develop a complete accessibility solution.
Costs associated that are being tossed around the industry creating the market size are varied, but they all tell the same story. Records show 76 million births between 1946 and 1964, with approximately 4 million of those having died. This would net about 72 million baby boomers; however Census 2000 counted 79.6 million people in that category. Regardless of which population size is considered the most credible, both suggest that this market segment is among the largest that the HME industry has ever seen.
Continued focus on this group of people aging at home shows that this segment of the population will need a multitude of devices and equipment, ranging from access to the home to how they eat and bathe. Unfortunately, many of the current approaches to this market need are reactive rather than proactive.
Needs are identified after an event has happened instead of being defined before
an event—such as a fall in the bathroom— has occurred. Recent numbers indicate that the average hospital stay after that type of incident exceeds $15,000.
The landscape of the health care market has changed dramatically during the past 10 years and is destined for more change with the newly legislated health insurance initiative and competitive bidding. As the market has evolved, it has become more evident that the home is a large part of health care consideration. Failure to consider and invest in the home as part of health care will often result in institutional care because a person is unable to take care of himself or herself—can’t bathe or get in and out of bed safely or is simply unable to use kitchen utensils well enough to cook.
Define Your Market Segment
The needs in the market are as varied and diverse as the individuals who make up the millions of the baby boomer population. Manufacturers in the marketplace continue to come up with creative and innovative solutions to the needs that are present and often have resourceful options to help you merchandize those needs within the DME storefront.
The disconnect often takes place during the implementation of those products needed to help maintain an active, vibrant lifestyle. For those unfamiliar with medical equipment—partially because they have never had a need for it—the act of simply acquiring the equipment can be a challenge after a fall has occurred or a progressive disease has made the equipment necessary. In addition, basic human pride prevents many from admitting that they could benefit from various forms of accessibility devices prior to a catastrophic or life-changing event. In many cases, those who would benefit from many of the accessibility products that you carry in your showroom simply do not know that the products exist or how they might improve their current lifestyle.
When the need arises, because of the general unfamiliarity of the medical equipment market, many customers default to a handyman or contractor who may not have all of the knowledge necessary to provide the most efficient and accurate solution. This solution must not only address today’s needs, but also be sustainable and buildable for future needs.
Additionally, they may not have access to the most up-to-date equipment and solutions available. Jerry Keiderling, president of Accessible Home Improvement of America (AHIA) says, “Those qualified as remodelers may have little or no idea how an individual’s diagnosis, prognosis or plan of care will affect the outcome of a successful remodel, or what additional accessibility equipment might be suitable.” This situation can often result in unnecessary expense as the changes made today may have to be changed again in the near future and completely remodeled.
Situations such as this prove the need to have complete, synergistic solutions that are big-picture and long-term oriented rather than simply addressing the issue at hand. This does not mean that the homeowner must institute the entire accessibility goal in one project, but the goal should be in place with the plan for incremental changes as the needs progress and develop. Executing the project in steps allows for gradual changes that can be built upon over time without having to rebuild previous alterations. It is also not necessary to take care of each aspect of the solution in-house, if certain functions of the plan—such as complex product installations or structural modifications to a home—are outside your field of expertise.
Key partnerships with other professionals, businesses and contractors may be the best solution for you in your market segment to attain the highest level of competency resolving the needs of the end user.
Develop a strategy
Many businesses paint themselves into a niche because they fail to see who, outside of their normal customers, their market could or should include. If your goal is to excel in this market, then it is important to develop a strategy that addresses your approach to the end user, the equipment that you will offer and the steps that you will take to solve their needs—current and future. DIY has become a common term as there are many attempts to do
it yourself in a variety of situations. The successful DME strategy for reaching the accessibility goal should provide the expertise to remove the DIY desire and provide the tools and resources to assist in achieving that goal.
Having an accessibility checklist is often a good tool to help assess a home or set of needs; however, do not let that list detract from the purpose of accessibility, which is maintaining and improving the lifestyle of an individual. The home care professional may go into the home with the desire of helping a client get out of the house, to get to the doctor or prevent falls, which are very important. However, the client may have other goals that they would like to be able to achieve, such as go to church, read a book or cook a special meal when family visits—all of which can be achieved with the right accessibility devices. These same needs may often be overlooked if a consultative approach is not used.
“Many individuals may leave a hospital after a hip replacement or similar surgery with a comprehensive list of medical equipment that is needed. These lists are often inclusive of any type of device that needs,” says Lisa Johnson of Jackson Medical Equipment in St. Paul, Minn. “I spend time talking to them about their specific needs to keep them from wasting money on items that they do not need, as well as to make sure that they get the items they do need. There is a solution available for almost any need and many health care professionals may not be aware of all of the products offered.”
Determine Your Position
Becoming the expert is the key factor in providing the best solution. There are several organizations and training sessions that can help educate your staff to become experts in this market. One global course is the Certified Environmental Access Consultant (CEAC) course offered by AHIA that includes course study, a final exam and requires a passing grade. Individual manufacturers such as EZ-ACCESS and Best Bath Systems have respective manufacturer training and/or certification programs that are specific to the products that they offer. Education and consultation provide excellent opportunities to communicate with the end users, as well as the caregivers or family members, about the need for an accessibility goal, and to demonstrate that you have solutions that will help them develop the plan to attain that goal.
This market is not a future event—it is developing today and will continue to evolve. The HME providers who will be successful in the area of aging in place are the ones who will intentionally determine the strategy and approach they will take toward development, and the mode and means it require to become the expert and resource in their marketplace.

New Year’s Resolution – Helping Others Through Mobility

New Year's Resolution
Have you thought of a great New Year’s resolution for 2014? EZ-ACCESS saw a great example of how you could resolve to help others through mobility.  Read this excellent product review which showed us just how far one ramp system can go:

“Hi – What a quick and courteous response!!  After the day I have had today I think you all and LL Bean rank in the same exceptional category!  I first bought the ramp 4-5 years ago, from who I do not remember.  I bought it on-line to help my mom get into a summer cottage we used to rent in Maine, so it went in the car with all our stuff!
Then it was used at a house I lived in for four years, again so she could get in when she visited – stairs were so hard.  Recently, I loaned it to a friend of mine whose dad was dying of cancer – for 6 months.  He used it with a walker at first and then with a wheelchair.  They used the extension parts.  So it has been up and down quite a bit and traveled into 3 states for all of its use.  It has been excellent.  The traction is amazing and I can put it up by myself.
It will not go anywhere until after my mom has passed away – which we hope will still be several good years away!  THANK YOU for the new pins – again because it’s been up and down so much they are quite bent and a little rusty so we all just want it to be as good as new.” – S.W. from Andover, NH.

Just like S.W. has shown us in one simple product review, your EZ-ACCESS mobility ramp has the potential to help many throughout its lifecycle.  As you can see from the featured product review, EZ-ACCESS mobility ramps are easy to transport and can be rented, reused and then recycled to help as many individuals with limited mobility as possible!