Sunday, February 14, 2010

Assistive Toileting: A New Standard of Care?

As my mother aged at home, my family struggled when it came to her toileting care. Like many, the bathroom was too tiny to accommodate her wheelchair, so that solution was out. Nor did the layout of the house lend itself to remodeling; besides, the cost was prohibitive. Upon discharge from a skilled nursing facility, she was given the choices of a patient lift (she was not happy about the prospect of being swung through the air), adult diapers (again, not happy), a bedpan (no one thought that was a good idea) or a transfer board-bedside commode solution. Deciding that the latter preserved most of her personal dignity, she chose the transfer-commode combination. However, we soon came to realize that there were two obstacles preventing her from getting herself on/off the commode: she could NOT (1) manipulate the height of the commode (once set, it remains at the same height); NOR could she (2) anchor the transfer board so it did not shift as she moved along its length. This meant that she still needed assistance when she needed "to go."

That lack of full independence meant that my sisters and I had to be responsive to her "on-demand" toileting needs, a source of frustration in an otherwise very loving and supportive family environment. When she passed away, we thought, "Why wasn't the commode more manageable for her to get on/off by herself?" Drawing upon our experiences helping her, we came up with functional solutions to her commode height-transfer challenges.

Naively, we thought that Home Medical Equipment (HME) companies would be interested in solving a problem experienced by many care recipients and their caregivers, particularly if the solutions were patented (U.S. patent #7,562,400).

However, we soon came to understand that, despite all the talk about the importance of entrepreneurs and innovation, it is VERY hard to bring new products to market, especially in healthcare. Companies want to see "proof" that there is a market. That's where advances in social media, such as this blog, may prove to be instrumental in launching functional improvements in home medical equipment.

1 comment:

  1. As a health care professional, I am thrilled that innovations are happening that will improve the quality of life for individuals that require assistance with some of our basic daily tasks. The need to have improvements in the current methods of containing bodily wasts is critical. I applaud you for moving this agenda forward!!!