Did you know the bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house? Over 80% of all falls occur in the bathroom. A buddy of mine (who is less than 40 years old) had a nasty fall in the bathroom last year and ended up on home health . . . and he was healthy. Imagine if you or a loved one is dealing with stability issues, how this can go up.
Bathroom aids such as grab bars help in transferring throughout the bathroom. Many people use their own towel racks for this purpose which is a horrible idea because towel racks do not have a weight capacity and are usually not properly secured to the wall. If you do want to double-dip with a multi-function towel rack and grab bar, there are some grab bars that double as towel racks. Also, installing grab bars on plastic or fiberglass wallboard can be complicated and many tub and showers have gaps between the unit that make the usual attachment almost impossible. There are adapter kits available to help fill this gap in. Howard’s does not offer this service for liability reasons but most hardware stores such as Ace, Home Depot, and Loews can walk you through this process.
For the shower or tub, most people use shower or transfer benches. They come with or without backs and with or without commode cutouts. Even if you don’t think you need a back we will usually throw it in because if you need it at a later date they are not sold separately and only add about $5 to the price of the chair/bench and can always be taken off and stored. I would hate to see anyone ever fall in the shower which is why we have the lowest prices in town in bath safety. We will sell a standard shower chair for as little as $39.99 and if that is an issue, tell me you read this blog and we’ll sell you a used (cleaned of course) for half that. There is also a new product on the market (electric bathtub patient lift) which is great for someone who is unstable that still needs to bath. We have these on display at our Yakima store because we know many people don’t want to plunk down hundreds of dollars before seeing and trying an item. Do know that the rubber tips need to be maintained on all bath safety equipment. If they are cracking and wearing out you will need to have them replaced.
With toilet seats there are differing degrees of raise one can add to the toilet. There are several different kinds depending on the raise one needs, how you would like to attach or bolt them on, and whether or not one needs arms. For our shorter customers, many do not need a raised toilet but will still need a toilet safety frame to aide in standing and sitting.
There are three main kinds of commodes available. The most popular is the bedside commode. Most insurances including Medicare (but not DSHS in Washington State) will cover a bedside commode if it is for use in the bedroom and there is documentation that the patient is limited to that one room with a doctor’s prescription. There are also drop-arm commodes and wheeled commodes. I prefer the knock-down commodes because when they are not needed, they fold out of the way and don’t take as much space. Please note that weak and unstable patients should never be left unattended sitting on a commode.
I’d love to tell you your insurance will help you out with covering medical equipment in the bathroom but most consider it a “home improvement” item and will not cover any item in the bathroom. Here is Yakima, we have had some success getting some bath safety items covered by the COPES program with ALTC. If you do not have the money to do some of these improvements and are on DSHS, you can call ALTC at 509-469-0500 and they can walk you through the process that this entails of getting bath safety covered by the state. Usually one has a caseworker, we send him/her a bid, and this is either covered or denied by the state. I’m hesitant to write this because it seems like Washington State insurance changes hourly so do not quote me on this. I will also say, whether it is Howard’s or another local DME store here in Yakima, if one store goes to all the trouble of creating a bid, educating the customer, and talking through the options, if they do not win the bid please contact them and let them know this so they can adjust their pricing.
Last, people love to prove me wrong regarding whether or not their insurance will cover bath safety items. If you think your insurance will cover these items I have attached a list of bathroom procedure codes. Don’t call your insurance and ask them, “Do you cover a raised toilet seat.” Call them and ask them, “Do you cover procedure code E0244 for use in the bathroom?” In insurance talk E0244 is equal to raised toilet seat. Likewise, E0163 is equal to bedside commode.
If you have any question regarding bathroom safety, give us a call at 509-654-9899. We also offer free in-home assessments if you would like us to walk through your or a loved-one’s home and offer suggestions.
Team Lead at Howard’s Medical Supply