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There’s a clear connection between the quality of durable medical equipment (DME) and the ability of people who use that equipment to perform activities of daily living (ADLs) — particularly in hospice and palliative care settings. 

 

Without high-quality wheelchairs, walkers, commode chairs, lifts, and a variety of other DME, movement and mobility become more difficult and risky for users and caregivers. For example, sitting on an uncomfortable chair all day increases physical pain and emotional frustration. That frustration leads to anger, anxiety, and depression, which affects residents in palliative care nearly four times more frequently than the average person. 

 

A lack of proper medical equipment only exacerbates that depression, and experts overwhelmingly agree that quality-of-life measures for palliative care are lacking. One of the best ways to improve hospice conditions is by making high-quality DME, such as Broda chairs, the standard for long-term and palliative care facilities. 

 

Tied Down by Low-Quality Equipment 

 

One of the most significant problems with low-quality equipment is how it can contribute to painful (and costly) falls, injuries, and pressure sores. Falls are the most frequent cause of injury-related deaths for seniors, and studies report that nonfatal falls account for nearly $50 billion in healthcare costs in the U.S. annually. When a patient’s DME is inadequate, falls are more likely. 

 

The Journal of the American Medical Association highlights pressure injuries as an equally problematic concern. These sores result from equipment that fails to distribute pressure properly. As a result, facilities spend an average of $11.66 a week per resident on associated treatments and care routines. High-quality DME reduces those risks and any related costs. 

 

For the people and caregivers using this equipment on a daily basis, the concerns are far more personal. Without the aid of caregivers and the right DME, these patients are unable to do things like get out of bed, take a shower, or move from one room to another. Patients are more empowered to participate in these ADLs when their equipment supports their ambitions. 

 

For example, chairs must facilitate mobility for patients who can self-propel with their hands or feet. Medical equipment should be equally comfortable and durable so caregivers can position patients for optimal physiological functions, such as respiration and digestion. 

 

How to Spot High-Quality Devices 

 

While every person’s needs vary, high-quality DME typically features these six essential qualities: 

 

1.Front-tilt pivoting
Most low-end medical chairs feature rear-tilt pivoting that forces patients to look up at the ceiling when they’re reclined. A chair with front-tilt pivot allows users to be in a reclined position and still maintain eye contact with the people around them.
 
Front-tilt pivot means patients can more easily socialize with people and interact with their surroundings. Psychologically, it provides a significant boost to their engagement and quality of life.

 

2. Enhanced mobility
Patients who are somewhat ambulatory can still propel themselves using their hands or feet — as long as their seating facilitates easy mobility.
 
Foot propulsion requires the seat to be closer to the ground to provide users with sufficient leverage. Hand propulsion requires wheels that are large enough for patients to grab comfortably. Both methods require the correct level of front-tilt functionality and seating that’s able to reduce the risks of shifts and falls.

 

3. Pressure redistribution
Being able to move and interact comfortably goes a long way toward improving the patient condition. High-quality DME provides adequate redistribution to reduce instances of pressure sores.
 
When patients are unable to shift their weight independently, they need a seating surface that accomplishes this movement for them. In addition to maintaining skin quality, tilted positioning also helps ensure proper blood and oxygen flow.

 

4. Positioning and posture control
Even for patients who can shift their weight, positioning and posture control are essential. A chair with posterior tilt control eases stress on the upper body while supporting an upright posture.
 
Proper positioning control gives patients more practical use of their upper extremities, improves organ function, eliminates sliding, and reduces discomfort and pain.

 

5. Comfortable seating
Even with optimal positioning, an uncomfortable seat can still lead to diminished quality of life. Many generic chairs address the problem by offering higher-quality cushions at a higher cost.
 
Higher-end options, including every Broda product, offer that comfort from the start. For example, Comfort Tension Seating® replaces cushions with innovative, adjustable straps that conform to the individual size, weight, and shape of each user’s body.

 

6. A lengthy warranty and support
Durable medical equipment is only as good as its components and the support network. Most patients, family members, and caregivers aren’t experts on these components, but they can judge the quality of a device by the length of the equipment’s warranty and the availability of support resources. A one- or two-year guarantee means you will probably end up replacing the equipment sooner rather than later. More durable products carry superior warranties, with brands like Broda offering coverage for up to 10 years along with a wealth of educational resources and experts on call for support. 

 

Residents in palliative care depend on medical equipment to sustain a high quality of life despite their conditions. It only stands to reason that the quality of their equipment should be incredibly important to them and the facilities and family members that care for them. 

 

" My father, enlisted in the Air Force and trained as a machine gunner on B17’s during WWII. Photographs of the “Flying Fortress” grace the walls of his room in the Kansas Veterans' Home in Winfield, Kansas where he has been living for the past 6 years.

For the first 2 years in the Veterans’ Home, my father used a power wheelchair for mobility and independence. But at the age of 82, with advances in his Parkinson's and dementia, his power wheel chair was taken away for safety concerns. He was provided with a standard issue VA manual wheelchair with no tilt or recline. His posture in that chair was terrible ... he was very slumped over and leaning to the side. Even his breathing was limited as a result of his poor posture. All he could do was stare at the floor. It was so disheartening to see him this way. I would have to kneel on the floor to see him eye-to-eye due to his hunched posture from Parkinson's disease.

In a fortunate twist of fate, it was determined that my father was an ideal candidate for a chair from Broda. And as a vested veteran, he qualified for the VA to fund the chair. He has now had a Broda chair for over 4 years!

Since he's been in the chair from Broda we can now sit beside him on visits and look at each other face-to-face. Being able to tilt back in the chair and look upward, he can enjoy watching John Wayne westerns in the VA lounge. He can even use the Broda chair when he travels by transport for dental appointments. He can stay in his chair for the bus ride and in the office, since the chair can be tilted enough for the dentist to work on his teeth.

Broda's chair has been a blessing for my father, his caregivers and my family. The chair improves his quality of life and I can't imagine him not being in it over the past few years. We are fortunate that the VA will fund Broda chairs for Veterans like him who need them."

Kent P., Family Member

"As a Social Worker in a long term care setting I want to ensure my residents have the ultimate in comfort. Upon actually getting to test one myself, I realize Broda is the ultimate in comfort for any geriatric population including ours. As the number of Broda's chairs grow, so does the comfort and improved skin integrity of our residents."

Colleen M., Social Worker |Brookfield, WI

"Broda chairs and wheelchairs make it easier for caregivers to provide optimal care with less stress on the client and the caregiver. For example, easier transfers, easier re-positioning, less maintenance, and easier mobility."

Carole P., MS/OTR |Easton, MD

"We were at a loss with one of our residents who has frontal lobe dementia. He had trunk lean, stopped feeding himself and appeared to be in pain. We attempted to address the pain; however, any medication we used caused him to have increased behaviors. Since using Broda's Synthesis Tilt Recliner, he has been feeding himself, he smiles and laughs like he used to and is showing no signs of pain anymore. Thank you for producing a great product that brings the quality of life back to our residents!"

Kelly J., Director of Nursing |Sister Bay, WI

We have not had any skin breakdown with our residents in the Broda's Elite Tilt Recliners since we started using them four years ago. We attribute this to the design of the straps allowing for moisture wicking as well as the ability to easily position recline position for pressure relief. We have not had any skin breakdown with our residents in the Broda's Elite Tilt Recliners since we started using them four years ago. We attribute this to the design of the straps allowing for moisture wicking as well as the ability to easily position recline position for pressure relief.

Mitch C.