In an ideal world, all of our patients would be able to get all the adaptive equipment and durable medical equipment that they need and get it paid for. This, of course, is not the reality and many occupational therapy practitioners end up scrambling around to find DME that our patients can afford and help with their independence and safety in daily living.
I typically recommend all OT's have a handout of local places that patients and their families can either get DME for free, at a low price or purchase. The list would include phone numbers and the websites of all the businesses that they can contact (or for you to contact if you are helping!) for easy reference.
Many times this information is very location specific, but here is a starting point of groups to look into or help spur some creative thinking on how we can get some of this equipment our patients
Free and Discounted DME
Facebook: If you check out your local "Swap" group, many times, patient's/families can request a donation of used bedside commodes, shower chairs, etc or even search for items that people are donating. Here is an example of my local Facebook Swap where I see DME all the time: FB Roaring Fork Swap
Loan Closets: Many communities have loan closets, but the trick is figuring out where to find them! Here are a few examples of places to contact to see if they loan DME for free or a small fee:
- Social Clubs: Elks Club, Eagles, Moose Lodge, VFW, American Legion Auxillary, VFW, Lions
- Hospice Organizations
- Senior Centers
Craigslist.org: This is an online classified advertisement website. Under the "For Sale" section on the site, there is both a "Free" tab, where you might be able to find some DME or find a good deal on some equipment under the "For Sale" section.
There is also a "Wanted" tab that may be worth putting out feelers for any durable medical equipment that a patient may need.
theDMElist.com: Started by a physical therapist, this website lets people post durable medical equipment they want to get rid of, as well as lets people post what types of equipment they are looking for - many more options in bigger cities.
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Freecycle.org: This is a website that is all about connecting people that are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods, including DME.
Thrift Stores: Many shops have a special section in their stores just for DME.
Local Newspapers: There is usually a section in the classifieds labeled, "Medical Equipment," that is worth looking into.
Non-Profit Organizations and Foundations: There are a number of these groups that can help either financially or by providing free, long term loans of DME. A few of these include:
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) Association
- Muscular Dystrophy Association
- National Amputation Foundation
- Saving Our Seniors (Florida): Started by an OTA!
State Funded Programs
- Alaska Senior Access Program
- Kentucky Hart Supported Living Program
- Iowa Able Foundation Loan Program
- Nebraska Assistive Technology/Home Modifications Service
- Nebraska Disabled Persons and Family Support
- New Jersey Assistance for Community Caregiving
- North Carolina Special Assistance In-Home (SA/IH) Program for Adults
- Pennsylvania Assistive Technology Foundation (PATF)
- Pennsylvania Access Home Modification Program
- Pennsylvania Options Program
- Rhode Island Home and Community Care Co-Pay Program
- Texas DADS Services to Assist Independent Living
- Texas In-Home and Family Support
- Utah's The Alternatives Program
- Wisconsin Community Options Program (COP)
- Wisconsin Family Care and Family Care Partnership
- Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Family and Caregiver Support Program or AFCSP
Where have you found free or discounted DME for patients?