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Questions to ask before buying assistive technology

By July 4th, 2023No Comments

Shopping online has granted us a world of possibilities, including access to assistive technology (AT) devices. To make sure you get the best device for your personal needs or those of another user, we asked David Sinclair, Executive Officer of ATSA, how to avoid any downsides of buying AT online.

You need to ask the right questions

Buying assistive technology means you’re buying a medical device. Medical devices need to be fully understood. You need to have the right information before you purchase,” says David.

To make an informed decision you need to take the time to ask the right questions.

“Even for simpler devices like a walker or a shower chair, there are a number of questions to ask,” says David. He suggests you need to consider:

  • Will the walker fit in the car? Is it too heavy to put in the boot?
  • What terrain will the walker be used on?
  • Can you adjust it to the right height?
  • Does the user have the strength to use the walker’s brakes?
  • Will the seat take the weight of the person?
  • Who do I go to post sale to assist me if I have questions?

A shower chair may also seem like an easy item to order online. But as David points out, it’s more complex that you may think.

“A shower chair will be in a wet area. Will it become a trip hazard when a person tries to get in and out of the shower? Does the chair take the person too far away from the taps or bring them too close to them, or could it block access?” says David.

Asking the right questions is crucial to choosing a device that’s safe and isn’t going to put the user at risk.

Seeking expert advice

“If you’re replacing something a person already has, there’s less need for a clinical intervention. That’s unless that person’s health condition has altered in some way”, says David. “But if you’re looking at a more complex type of product, getting clinical advice is in the best interest of the user to make sure that all the boxes are ticked.”

If an OT has recommended a shower chair, it is critical that you follow their advice. If you elect to shop online, ensure you understand what has been recommended in respects to the features the chair needs to have. Don’t buy one online that has different features because it’s cheaper or can be delivered faster.

Tips for online shopping

How do you shop online for assistive technology with more confidence?

  1. Know your needs: Have a clear understanding of what type of assistive technology you need.
  2. Research the product and suppliers: Look for reviews and specifications of the product you are interested in. Make sure the product meets your needs. Choose a supplier with a good reputation for quality products and strong customer service.
  3. Check the return policy: Read the returns policy carefully before making a purchase and understand any restrictions.
  4. Compare prices, shipping costs and warranties: Keep in mind that the lowest price may not always be the best option.
  5. Ask for recommendations: If you know someone who uses assistive technology, ask for their experiences with different products. This can give you valuable insight and help you make a better-informed decision. However, your personal circumstances are unique to you, so always focus on your needs and seek professional advice before making the final choice.
  6.  Remember that AT is a medical device, and if not set up correctly, it can cause injury or worse. That’s why it’s important to choose a delivery option that includes set-up services rather than flat-pack delivery. This delivery option will ensure that the device is set up properly so there’s less risk of something going wrong.

The safest path when buying AT online or in store

Shopping for assistive technology appears easier than ever because of the convenience of online stores. But the challenge when ordering online is making sure a device is suitable for your individual needs or those of another users.

The safest course, whether you’re buying online or offline, says David is to talk to an Allied Health Professional first: “It could make all the difference when investing in this type of medical device — they’ll help ensure that everyone gets exactly what they need.”

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Email: Phone: (02) 800