Hire and rental options for Assistive Technology (AT) have been widely discussed topics within the industry lately. The latest application form for NDIS AT funding asks therapists to consider hire as an option. We asked two of Australia’s leading providers of hire and rental options for their advice, especially on when hire is a great option, and when it should be avoided.
Assistive Technology provider Astris PME provides hire and rental options for scripted equipment. Working closely with NDIS as part of their advisory network, Astris PME Managing Director Steve Joyce said in many cases hire and rental is a very good option, however in some instances they may not be the right solution. “Astris PME hire clients are taking advantage of the flexibility of hire when they need a short-term solution”, Steve told Source Kids magazine. Examples of situations where hire works best include:
- When waiting for funding to be approved. When equipment users need equipment immediately and can’t wait for funding and the production time for their own new equipment.
- When unsure if the equipment is right for the client. In most cases a 1-to-2-hour trial can confirm the equipment will be right for the client, however in some cases a longer trial (for example 2-3 months) is needed to prove that the recommended equipment will work for the client, based on their physical, mental, and emotional needs, as well as a range of their environmental situations.
- Short term needs, as examples, between surgeries, for palliative care needs, when a client’s main equipment is undergoing an upgrade or repair, or for holiday / travel needs.
Last year, Astris PME opened a 2000m2 warehouse in Sydney, helping drive down waiting times for the supply of new equipment. In January 2021 they opened another major warehouse in Brisbane and will be opening a 2000m2 warehouse in Melbourne later this year. By reducing the waiting time for new equipment, this can reduce the need for short term hire, saving both NDIS and equipment user’s money and inconvenience.
Gavin Little, Hire and Community manager at Alpha Lifecare Community Care agrees with the advice from Astris PME. He has been actively involved in hire, originally as part of the Able Rehab / Acute Healthcare group, and now part of the Alpha Lifecare group since he started working with DVA (Department of Veterans Affairs) in 2002. Gavin also pointed out, where it is clear the client will be using the equipment for a longer period, there may be no point in paying for hire. “The cheapest option when the needs are confirmed is purchasing the equipment upfront, which also ensures that brand new equipment is provided”.
All AT supplied through NDIS Providers should be manufactured according to the strict standards required by the TGA, including Australian Standards certification, or manufactured in accordance with ISO/CE. In all industries, hiring equipment (even household furniture and whitegoods) comes at a price-premium, when compared to outright purchase. This covers the hiring company for the cost of the investment and the extra administration involved.
Gavin advises people to only work with NDIS Providers that have a comprehensive and approved cleaning and maintenance program. He suggests NDIS Participants ask their providers how they clean the equipment prior to delivery to their home, school or hospital. “A comprehensive cleaning regime will eliminate any potential cross infections, such as C-diff, Norovirus, Influenzas (flu), MRSA (Golden staph), VRE, Heb B, Acetobacter and Acinetobacter. If you are considering equipment from a shonky operator that does not undertake an approved process, you could be putting the safety of yourself and your family at risk”. Both Alpha Lifecare and Astris PME have COVID-Safe operational plans and cleaning procedures.
Another benefit of hire is once it is no longer needed by you, the hiring company will take care of the removal and disposal or reissue of your equipment. Due to the cost of collection, disinfection, un-assembly, inspection, repair or reconditioning, there is not a large market for second-hand equipment. Due to the risk of cross-contamination and incorrect set up or use, Astris PME do not endorse the purchase of second-hand / used Assistive Technology.
Assistive Technology Consultant Cameron Brown told Source Kids Magazine, “Our consultants have years of experience working alongside physiotherapist and occupational therapists, and as a team we work hard to ensure that the equipment we prescribe is right for the client. An incorrect piece of equipment, or even the right equipment that has been configured wrong, can do a lot of harm to the user, and put their therapy back months or even years.” Many online platforms like Facebook, eBay, Gumtree, etc, discourage the sale of medical devices such as wheelchairs, unless they will be used as spare parts. Privately purchased equipment from non-NDIS Providers may also come with no warranty and can expose any clinical staff involved to professional liability.
Assistive Technology available for hire in Australia includes manual and power wheelchairs, strollers, walking & gait trainers, standing frames, indoor seating, hygiene equipment, beds, hoists & transfer devices, and exercise equipment.
Astris PME have been providing quality AT equipment to special needs clients since 1952. From humble beginnings supplying walking sticks, they now have a comprehensive range of configured equipment for long term users.
Alpha Lifecare are experts in healthcare and innovative with over 40 years’ experience assisting and supporting clients with continuity of care and an extensive range of equipment options.
If you would like to learn more about hire, and discuss whether it is right for your individual circumstances, you can contact the contributors for this article here:
Astris PME – Phone: 1300 131 884 (Branches in all east coast states of Australia)
Alpha Lifecare – Phone 02 9714 1177 (Greater Sydney & ACT)