2015 HME Handbook

How to Provide the Right Ramp to Suit Patient Needs

There are many patient groups that need home access ramps. What factors go into picking the right ramp for each?

Home Access

There are many patient groups that need home access ramps. On the face of things, you have a mobility patient that needs a ramp to get into his or her house, but how the provider determines the best solution for that patient depends on a lot on the patient’s condition and lifestyle.

Moreover, demographics come into play. For instance, there are two key patient populations in need of home access services that are expanding by leaps and bounds, groups that providers with an eye on home access should tap into: bariatric patients and the Baby Boom generation. Both of these groups represent unique challenges and opportunities a ramp provider should consider.

Ultimately, picking the right ramp solution for a patient comes down to the patient’s condition, lifestyle, circumstances and funding. When opting for the right ramp solution keep these factors in mind:

Gain Expertise

Begin with expertise. Credentials such as the VGM Group Inc.’s Accessible Home Improvement of America offers a Certified Environmental Access Consultants (CEAC) designation for providers in its network. CEAC status comes in various levels, with Level 2 covering installation of portable ramps with handrails, and Level 3 covering modular ramps with platforms, landings and turns. Likewise, make sure to get educated from your ramp vendors so that you know the various features of each product and what it has to offer each patient’s needs. Most offer detailed training programs of their own.

Understand the Patient

Understand your patients’ condition, needs and how they plan to use their ramps and how often. For instance, there is a good deal of difference between a younger person with an athletic build using a manual chair, and a patient in a powered complex rehab chair with a seating solution. The weights are different, the centers of gravity are different and the user capabilities are different. That said, appearances and circumstances can be deceiving. That young person might seem totally fine to go up a long ramp using his or her manual chair, but what if he or she is entering and leaving the home repeatedly throughout the day? He or she still might get tired as the day wears on, so a ramp with some landings might be advisable from a safety and convenience standpoint. Also, what if the patient has a degenerative condition? In short there are a multiplicity of factors involved in each patient’s need. A good place to start with patients is to perform an assessment to determine the factors that will impact a ramp installation. (For more information on that, turn to page 26.)

Consider Demographics

As mentioned, bariatric patients and Baby Boomers are key patient groups to consider. Bariatric patients represent a growing portion of the U.S. population. There are now at least 72 million Americans that are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, and in terms of the number of patients that are morbidly obese, another study puts that figure at 9 million. Their needs for a ramp are going to differ greatly from other patients. Similarly, The Baby Boom generation comprises approximate 76 million people and has already started entering the age in which they need DME and home access services. If there’s any doubt regarding their desire for home access, one need only look to a recent AARP study that showed that 89 percent of homeowners over the age of 45 prefer to remain in their homes, yet 80 percent of that population will require special housing and care needs, including access. Given the relative wealth of the Baby Boom, that means those patients are willing and able to pay for more expensive homecare solutions, and that will impact their ramp choices.

Be a Funding Resource

An important way to ensure that patients get the right home access solution is to ensure they can afford it. Remember that many patients needing home access might have limited means by which to get these access offerings, which can sometimes be high-ticket, especially in the case of vertical platform lifts and the like. In fact, major home remodeling projects can involve even more money. In fact, the construction costs associated with remodeling and reconstruction projects can cost as much as 12 percent higher for an accessible home as a standard home. It is critical for home access providers to know the funding sources available to patients that might have difficulty purchasing these solutions.

First off, there are special grants and other options outside of true financing solutions. For instance, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers its Home Improvement and Structural Alterations and Special Home Adaptations grants for disabled veterans. Many state Medicaid programs offer home and community-based waivers that can help fund accessibility modifications. Also, local grant programs can sometimes help. Often area charitable organizations will provide financial help to those who qualify. Local or area Muscular Dystrophy Associations often keep lists of these sorts of organizations, and can help providers better understand the grants available. And if the patient has income, but needs to take out a loan providers should build relationships with lending professionals that have a solid understanding of special local, state and national lending programs from commercial and government sources that are geared toward helping patients finance their home access modifications and construction.

Points to Take Away:

  • Home access clients needing a ramp vary in terms of condition and circumstance, and those factors will play a role in what ramp is right for them.
  • Make sure to get educated from not only Accessible Home Improvement of America, but your ramp vendors as well, so that you know the full range of options and installation issues.
  • You want to fully understand the patient’s condition, health and needs from the ramp, and remember that appearances can be deceiving. Ask lots of questions and know the full story so you can provide the right solution.
  • Two key demographics to be mindful of are bariatric patients and Baby Boomers.
  • Home access can get expensive, so maintain a detailed list of funding, grant, loan and other financial resources for patients.

Learn More:

This article originally appeared in the June 2015 issue of HME Business.

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