Inexpensive Resources for Special Needs Equipment

Special Needs Equipment Help

Our home will need massive remodeling to make it accessible to a disabled person (ramps, wider doorways etc.) and we will need various pieces of equipment (hospital bed, rehab equipment etc.) We want to know if any of the subscribers on the list have had to do this and how they financially handled the task without spending a fortune. Where can corners be cut without sacrificing what our son will need?

Social Worker Can Help

In relation to needing hospital equipment when the patient comes home. The first person one should talk to is the social worker assigned to the unit in the hospital. They are trained in medicaid, medicare, social security, and other organizations that the patient may be qualified for aid. There are foundations such as heart, liver, and MS, and many more that have come together for aid and support of those who have a particular ailment or overcoming a surgery in a particular area. The social worker in the hospital, generally is trained to assist the patient or direct them to an agency than can help them.
Albert N

Used Special Needs Equipment is Inexpensive

To find inexpensive gear to help her son at home check the papers for ads. My mom has an electric wheel chair and hospital bed that belonged to my Grandmother (since deceased) and would love to find a good home for them at a very decent price. (I know she is negotiating with someone for the wheel chair for 1/10 of the original cost). So I'm sure there are others out there who would be willing to do the same.
Brenda T.

Ask for Help

I would suggest getting out to yard sales and estate sales immediately for equipment. Estate sales, especially, may have many appropriate items since they are often put on by the families of homeowners who have just passed away. I've seen dozens of bathing chairs and hospital beds on my Saturday morning run.

Also, call you local United Way, Family Services Agency or other general social services agency. They may be able to help steer you towards resources since many social service agencies have programs for persons on fixed or low incomes. if your family doesn't qualify for financial assistance with remodeling or other services they may at least be able to help you contact contractors experienced with such work. It will take some time on the phone, but you may be surprised at what pops up.

Don't be too proud to ask for help--financial or otherwise. These agencies and programs exist because their staff and volunteers care enough to help others. Someday, through frugal money management and healthy time management you might find time to give back when your son's situation is stabilized. This is what community is all about.
Keri K. in Tucson, AZ

An Experienced Response

The best place to look for assistance in making your home accessible for a wheelchair is to contact an independent living center. Ask someone in rehab if there's one in your city. Ask for a loan chest for the home care items. They loan wheelchairs. Also you could contact the Easter Seal Society. If these things aren't available in your city, contact some contractors. Tell them what you need, get estimates, and check them out with the Better Business Bureau or previous customers. I hope this will help you. I have been disabled for 47 years and have used a wheelchair over half my life.
Judi D.

Ask Gov't and Other Agencies About Special Needs Equipment

I'm very sorry to hear about your son's injury. We had a similar experience last year when my husband's spine was nearly severed in a car accident. I don't know what state you live in, but in our state (VA), there is a Dept. of Rehab Services that sometimes has wheelchairs and other equipment available to lend to seriously injured people without charge. They might also be able to direct you to other organizations that help people like your son. Also, the patient representative assigned to you at the hospital or one of your son's therapists might be able to give you some good references to organizations that have low- or no-cost medical equipment. We found ours to be very helpful once we asked.

We also had to build a ramp from our front door. My father and sister went to a nearby hardware store and bought a long, sturdy piece of wood and some metal holders that are sold specifically for ramp-making. They just drilled a few holes in the concrete platform at the top of our steps, fastened the metal ramp holders to the concrete, and attached the holders to the wood. It worked very well for the three months that my husband used the wheelchair. We didn't use a hospital bed. Instead, I brought our own bed downstairs to the living room, and we slept there. Also, he was able to use the bed for some of his physical therapy exercises, rather than buying expensive equipment.

One last thought. I wasn't sure from your note whether your son suffered a spinal cord injury. But if he did, some states (at least VA) have associations that provide services and useful information to persons affected by spinal cord injuries. We receive a monthly newsletter from them that we find very helpful.

Help Organizations

Here in Southern Oregon, we have an organization of physically challenged people called "Southern Oregon Citizens for Independent Living." This group sometimes installs ramps for free at the homes of those in need.

You may be able to find resources like this in your area by calling a crisis intervention telephone service (sometimes called a "helpline") and asking for information on such organizations. Make sure that it's a free service for referrals. There are some crisis intervention services that charge fees.

Another possibility for some help might be a local Elks Club. They sometimes provide monetary help for essential items for people with such needs.
Charles and Olga

Suggestions for Building Materials

Many chapters of Habitat for Humanity run a ReStore, where they sell used and new donated building materials, and anyone can shop there. As for medical equipment, check with local churches; my own lends these items to any member.
Jeannie A.

Try Easter Seals

Contact Easter Seals to see if they can help with some of the equipment needed.

Call Around

There is usually some money or help floating around somewhere - you just have to track it down. Make some phone calls - try your minister, local chamber of commerce, HUD, any charitable organizations,... They might not be able to do anything, but they might know who can. Habitat for Humanity might retrofit your house or know someone who can. I don't know where Vicki lives (the States?) but if there is a group advocating for Head Injuries, they might know who to contact. Don't give up!

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