In this article, we discuss tips on how to transport a bedridden senior. Now, there is a difference between seniors who are bedridden and those on bed rest. Typically, bedridden patients cannot sit up or using a wheelchair is difficult or not an available option. A senior who is on bed rest, due to an acute or chronic medical condition, may be able to use a wheelchair. Someone who is trained on transferring a patient can set up the option to use a wheelchair; however, for those that are bedridden, transporting a senior can be difficult for those inexperienced. Many complications could arise while transporting and an experienced professional should be consulted to determine the best possible course of action.
Emergency medical transport is covered under many insurance plans including Medicare and Medicaid and non-emergency medical transport can sometimes be covered by insurance with a doctor’s order. However, most of the time, a non-emergency medical transportation for short or long transports will generally not be covered by insurance.(1)(2) So when planning on traveling with a bedridden senior, one should not look into cost-cutting transportation options if traveling long-distance as those are usually provided by inexperienced or low-quality service providers. Many complications can occur during a transport so one should research reputable transportation companies to feel confident that their loved one will be transported safely with compassionate care.
Tips to consider:
- Talk to the senior’s doctor – At times, with a doctor’s order, a non-emergency medical transport can be covered by Medicare or other insurances. It HAS to be ordered by their primary doctor and medically necessary. Always discuss potential complications with the doctor to be mindful of the risks transporting the senior.
- If the senior doesn’t qualify for a non-emergency transport, this would be an out of pocket expense so complete research on multiple transportation companies prior to booking.
- Research transportation companies – Look for recommendations at hospitals, with a primary doctor or social workers. They can guide you to companies they may currently use or suggest options that may best fit the seniors needs.
- Review the transportation website
- Ask for a quote.
- Ask about their safety record, the plan in the event an emergency arises and the complete process of how they will be taking care of your loved one during the transport. If they are vague on the process or do not want to discuss their safety record, then this may be a red flag to look somewhere else.
- Ask for a quote and compare costs – With insurance, you may have a copay. If you are paying out-of-pocket may sure you are researching the companies safety record and amenities provided to justify the cost of the transport. There are a number of options including: minivans, transport vans, or RVs for long distance transports.
Tips for transporting a bedridden patient:
- Do not attempt to transfer someone unless you are trained and qualified. Only a trained, qualified medical professional should attempt to transport a bedridden person. Do not attempt to do this at home or in a medical setting if you are not trained and qualified to do so. (3)
- Communicate with the senior the plan to move them. Sit down and discuss that you will be moving them. Go through the process exactly how you will be moving them before you start. They need to be aware of the process so they know what to expect when moving begins until the end of the process.
- If applicable, place the wheelchair next to the bed and set up for transport. If the senior can use a wheelchair, you will want the wheelchair next to the bed facing you for easier access. Make sure the wheels are locked in place and foot rests are up and out of the way prior to moving. Make sure the area is free from tripping hazards.
- Align yourself properly. Keep your legs shoulder-width apart with your knees bent. Do not bend at the waist. Keep your spine in a natural position. (4) If you need assistance, ask for help!
- Help the senior sit. If they are unable to sit on their own, place an arm behind their back and place your other arm under their knees, scooping the arm under the legs so you can pull them towards you. Turn the person’s lower body towards the edge of the bed while simultaneously lifting from the top. The senior should be positioned sitting up with their feet on the floor facing you.(5)
- Lift them from the bed. Place your legs around the senior’s outside leg (the one not near the wheelchair). Keeping your back straight, bend at the knees. Grasp them by placing your arms under theirs, going around the chest. Grasp your own hands in the back. Lift the patient up and carefully twist toward the wheelchair. (6)
- If you are unable to lift the senior – look at using a Hoyer Lift this is a sling system to help move the senior.
- Lower the senior into the wheelchair. The senior should try to use their legs as support if possible. Lower them carefully when their legs hit the edge of the seat and request that they grab the arms of the wheelchair to help position themselves if possible.
- A gait belt can give provide an option to grasp when lifting and moving.
- If using a Hoyer lift, set the senior in the sling, position over the wheelchair and carefully lower them to a seated position in the wheelchair
- Transfer the senior to the non-emergency transportation vehicle. A minivan, transportation van or RV with a wheelchair lift works best to help accommodate transporting the senior. If unavailable, use the same method as transporting from the bed to the wheelchair, but now the wheelchair to the vehicle seat. Buckle the safety belt and you are ready to transport.
4. Transporting a bedridden senior with a gurney – If the senior can not sit, stand, has limited body flexibility and/or can not use a wheelchair, then a gurney or transport bed would be needed. This type of transport is for seniors to maintain a laying down position throughout the entire transport. Those that are trained should only move these type of patients. A gurney transport usually includes a professional transferring the senior to the gurney or using the transport bed, to the transportation vehicle and then from the vehicle to the gurney/transport bed to the new facility or home where they will be receiving care.
- When requesting the quote – make sure you look for a transport service that provides a door-through-door transport for a bedridden patient.
- Research each company to determine the driver safety, cleanliness, medical professionals provided and quality of the transport.
- Make sure that the company selected specializes in stretcher transports and has proper equipment to handle this type of transport.
- Request a quote and discuss weight requirements, if applicable. A gurney or stretcher transportation will cost more than other types of transportation due to it will require additional professionals and equipment to provide a safe transport. The most affordable non-emergency medical transportation is for people who can walk, followed by wheelchair patients under 299 pounds. Depending on the weight of the patient – this could increase the cost. Some transportation companies have a weight restriction for those over 300 pounds and an additional professional may be required to transport the patient.
When determining transportation needs, keep these tips in mind and do your research on the companies services, costs, promotions, safety and quality of care. These are all determining factors for transporting your senior loved one.
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