5 key areas to consider when purchasing disability aids
Life can be tough for all of us, but for people with disabilities, every day challenges can be much more complex and challenging. Thankfully, there are many disability products and services available out there from a vast array of disability services providers and disability equipment suppliers.
You may be wondering where you can buy or rent disability aids, or you might want to know where you can obtain second-hand equipment, or even source equipment for a disability facility or disability support provider. You may even be wondering “What is a disability aid?”
For some answers to your questions, here are 5 key areas to consider when purchasing useful disability aids to encourage a fuller, more independent life with a disability.
Price is a major factor in any purchasing decision, especially in terms of disability products, since many items are computerised, electrical, motorised or specialised in design.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme is an insurance support scheme of the Australian Government that funds costs associated with disability. You can check to see if you are eligible here.
You may receive funding from the NDIS scheme or you may find yourself having to pay out of your own pocket. In this case it is worth considering alternatives to purchasing items.
Ansteys, for example, offer a massive range of disability and mobility aids for hire from electric beds, to crutches, to CPAP machines to wheelchairs and TENS machines.
Newcastle Mobility are a great example of a local hire business if finance is the deciding factor in the options you select, and they are NDIS registered providers.
2. Mobility aids
No doubt you are here because you are thinking “What mobility aid is right for me or my loved one?”. Mobility is a major factor in the lives of physically disabled people. 1 in 3 Australians with a disability always or sometimes need help with mobility and this is a key factor in personal independence.
Mobility scooters are motorised devices that are designed for people who can operate a vehicle, but find it difficult to walk for any period of time.
Key things to consider when buying a mobility scooter are:
- How much does the mobility scooter cost?
- What is the mobility scooter’s battery life?
- How portable is the mobility scooter?
- Is it foldable?
- How much does it weigh?
Mobility scooters price can range from $1,000 to $10,000 so comparing the market is very important and can be done here. If you choose to buy a second hand mobility scooter, make sure to inspect it with someone you trust to be able to judge it’s condition. There is a diverse range of electric mobility scooters with different functions and capabilities – it’s important that you spend enough time thinking about what you might need your scooter to help you with to make the best choice. Even better – make sure to take it for a test drive first!
Manual wheelchairs are used by people who have partial or limited movement, whereas a fully motorised unit would most likely suit a person who is unable to walk without help. Important features of any chair are how comfortable they are, how much they cost and weigh, and how portable they are. Wheelchair prices ranging from $170 for a manual wheelchair to around $6000 for an electric wheelchair.
The comfort of the user is one of the most important aspects. Consider how long will they be using it for – occasionally or all the time?
Lightweight wheelchairs are highly preferred due to having to load and unload either the chair on its own or the chair with the passenger in it. A good example of the need for a light chair is in a wheelchair based sport, such as Wheelchair Rugby League, for example.
“Foldability” may also be a factor, if travel in a motor vehicle, mini bus or public transport will also occur. Wheelchairs are so widely used that you can even buy one at K-Mart.
Electric wheelchair or manual wheelchair?
Making the choice between these two depends heavily on a few key factors. These include things such as:
- Expense – not everyone can afford a power wheelchair, and the cost varies greatly between models and functionalities
- Level of need – For those with severe physical disabilities, motorised wheelchairs can give them back a huge amount of independence. Many operate with user friendly joystick, and greatly reduce the amount of physical exertion required to operate them. This can save the user from excessive fatigue or injury. However, manual wheelchairs can be a good choice for those who retain a moderate level of mobility, promoting more physical activity and strength building.
- Portability – Powered wheelchairs are substantially heavier than manual ones, and cannot be folded down for easy travel.
For those who can use a manual wheelchair – you should use one for as long as you can. Not only will it be more affordable and easier to travel with, it will also keep you moving. Exercises for those with low mobility can often be performed in a wheelchair and being able to manoeuvre it yourself for as long as possible is great for your health.
There are hybrid options on the market for a power add on to go with your manual wheelchair, which can help bridge the gap between the two styles if your needs and wants lie somewhere between the two choices for a time. These power add-ons are easily portable and are great for holidays where a significant amount of travelling is done to save users from getting too tired out.
3. Accessibility aids
In contrast to mobility scooter and electric wheelchairs, accessibility aids are geared towards making life for the disabled at home more manageable and enjoyable. Often times, getting around the house is the main aim and is a key element in personal independence for many people with mild to moderate disabilities.
It is surprising that whilst there are companies that build accessible homes, many people feel trapped in their own abode. Wheelchair ramps are now quite affordable and portable, offering quick solutions to access problems.
Many companies can supply a great range of accessibility ramps including: metal ramps, foldable ramps, portable ramps, rubber threshold ramps, heavy gauge ramps and more.
Walking aid equipment is another vital element in the fight for personal mobility. The style you choose would depend on how mobile you are and how physically strong you are.
Whether it be a walking stick, quad stick, walking frame, crutches, or mobility walkers – there is a product to help you get around more easily.
4. Daily living aids
Daily living presents extra challenges for people with physical disabilities, or the elderly. Activities such as getting in and out of bed, washing, housework and eating or drinking can be made easier with daily living aids. Daily living aids are usually modified versions of household products or specialised equipment.
These are designed for people who have challenges with fine motor function to get dressed and undressed, a fantastic invention!
If you have trouble bending over, or are unable to reach an item you have dropped, a gripping tool is the perfect product. Lightweight and inexpensive starting at around $20, these items can be life savers. A similar device is the dressing stick which is designed for those who have a some movement.
Kitchen tools help with gross and fine motor function; they help you grip, open, move, tip or cut in the kitchen. Some great tools include:
- Cutting boards for the disabled have raised edges or useful spikes so food doesn’t slip off.
- One handed can openers have a motor to do the work for you and can be mounted or hand held.
- Can opener pulls are enlarged versions of a ring pull. This one from kitchenware.com.au works as a lever.
- Kettle tippers are a fantastic aid for the disabled or elderly user which include a swivel so you can have a cuppa without risking injury.
- The Neater Eater is a food delivery system, manual or electric. It can help those with Cerebral Palsy, muscular Dystrophy, upper limb amputations, spinal injuries, Arthritis and many more neurological conditions.
- Nonslip crockery and mats have special modified surfaces that are rubberised or shaped in a way to help the user move their crockery without spilling, or to keep their crockery stable whilst eating.
Guarding edges, rubber grips, enclosed vessels and lipped edges all play starring roles in these essential items for the user with physical challenges.
5. Disability Services
One of the most efficient ways of getting these jobs completed every day is to enlist the help of a disability services provider such as ConnectAbility, who are based in Newcastle and the Central Coast.
However, one of the key goals for anybody is independence . Aside from human help, a great way to increase your independent living is to enlist the help of some disability aids.
Regardless of the products and aids that can make your life easier, there is sometimes no substitute for people; sometimes we just need a helping hand from someone when friends or family aren’t available.
ConnectAbility can assist you to get into the community for day to day living or for recreational purposes.
You might want to improve your fitness, health and well-being or you might want to access community events such as a football game or go to the movies.
There are more practical aspects too, such as getting the weekly food shop done, or connecting you with a local volunteering program.
If you are NDIS registered, getting on board with a care services provider could be the key to improving your life if you live with disabilities or care for someone who does. This personal care improves lives just as much, if not more than all the products we have talked about today. For more information on how you can get access to trusted mobility aids and advice on assisted living in general, call the friendly team of experts at ConnectAbility today for a chat to get you headed in the right direction.