Upwardly Mobile

Reaching Out

WATERLOO, Iowa — As I write this, I am enjoying The VGM Group's superb hospitality at their 5th annual Heartland Conference in Waterloo, Iowa. We'll have full coverage in our August issue, but I wanted to sneak in a thank you here. Not only did VGM anticipate attendee needs beautifully (from providing driving directions from the Cedar Rapids airport to handing out bags of homemade cookies at registration), but VGM employees also took vacation days so they could help out at the event! How's that for hospitality?

The Heartland educational conference couldn't come at a better time, as the HME industry gets ready for accreditation requirements and fights competitive bidding plans. In addition, the mobility industry received new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) power mobility device (PMD) codes — or at least "XXX" ones — late on June 2. Those XXX codes were accompanied by some news on new testing standards for PMD. For more information, turn to our Paper Chase column by Claudia Amortegui on page 16.

As the mobility and rehab industries reach for answers, we are pleased to present what we hope are answers of our own on the topic of home accessibility. For the first time in our history, and with the help of consumers, homebuilders and mobility manufacturers, we have devoted an issue to accessibility case studies.

We start out with a tour of an actual universally designed home. Then we offer accessibility solutions for individual rooms of the house: entryway, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room and garage. What makes this accessibility special section unique is that it offers solutions at every level, from custom homes being built from the foundation up, to renovation-type fixes, to easy one-step improvements made possible by adding the right mobility products.

We hope this section will give you some bright ideas of possible products to include in your inventory, as well as precise accessibility ideas to recommend to your customers, whether they're seniors using canes or MS patients in power chairs.

A solid home assessment is one of the factors that determines the ultimate success of a seating and mobility program, and mobility and rehab suppliers are often the ones most likely to repeatedly set foot into clients' homes. That puts you in the right place at the right time when it comes to determining how well a home will accommodate mobility equipment.

In fact, at a Heartland Conference wheeled mobility session, Dr. Mark Schmeler of the University of Pittsburgh's Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology suggested making your repair and delivery techs aware of home accessibility factors, as well. Teaching them what to look for as they're setting up that wheelchair in a client's living room will give you an extra set of eyes and ears — and could increase your client's overall chance of mobility success.

This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of Mobility Management.

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