Equipment – what can you get and where from?
There are lots of different pieces of equipment which can help you to be more comfortable or to remain as independent as possible. The following section describes what may be available to you. Your GP, community nurse, specialist nurse or social worker will be able to make arrangements for you to be assessed for what you need.
Being comfortable in bed is particularly important for anyone who is seriously ill. You will probably spend a lot of time there, even if you are not completely bed-bound. Ask the community nurse for advice on the best way of making you comfortable. The community nurse may be able to help by arranging for the loan of an adjustable bed, a special mattress such as a pressure-relieving mattress, mattress pads or protective sheets.
Try to have lots of pillows of different shapes and sizes, and ask someone who cares for you to carefully position you, using the pillows, if you need assistance. A V-shaped pillow is especially comfortable and can help to relieve pressure on the back. If you have swollen arms or legs, try to keep the affected limbs higher than the rest of your body. This can be done by using pillows or adjusting the bed if this is possible.
A pressure relief pad or mattress can help relieve and prevent pressure sores.
Commodes, bedpans and urinals
If you have difficulty getting to the toilet, they may need a commode, bedpan or urinal. The GP, community nurse, home care team or social worker should be able to arrange this. You can also buy these from chemists or pharmacies. Some commodes are made to look like ordinary bedroom chairs.
If you have breathing problems, your hospital doctor or GP should be able to arrange for special equipment such as oxygen cylinders, concentrators and nebulisers to be provided in your home.
Wheelchairs and walking aids
If you have difficulty walking, the hospital doctor, GP, community nurse, home care team or physiotherapist should be able to arrange for a wheelchair, walking sticks or a walking frame (Zimmer frame).
If you have difficulty with continence your GP, community nurse or specialist nurse will be able to advise you on what is available to help.
There are many other smaller gadgets which you might be able to get from the occupational therapist. These include two-handled mugs, an adjustable bed rest, a bed raiser, a bidet bowl and grab rails.
If you can afford it, there are many shops and organisations who sell or hire out aids and equipment (look under 'Disabled' in Yellow Pages). Your local chemist can tell you what is available.
The GP, community nurse, home care team, social worker or occupational therapist should be able to give you advice and make the necessary arrangements.