Fall Safety For Seniors

Fall Safety For Seniors

Falls are the leading cause of injury among older Canadians.

  • 20-30% of seniors experience 1 or more falls each year.
  • Over a third of seniors are admitted to long term care following hospitalization for a fall.
  • 50% of all falls causing hospitalization happen at home.

Read this infographic from the Government  of Canada for further details.

Bathroom safety equipment can substantially reduce the risk of falling.

From a simple grab bar or shower chair installation to a rehab shower commode or sliding swivel transfer bench, bathroom safety equipment can make the difference between a bathroom that can be a fall hazard and a bathroom that is safe, comfortable and secure to use. Much of this equipment is available for rental and rent-to-own as well as for sale.

Rehab shower commodes for safety

RAZ-AT-commodeRehab shower commodes are portable, adjustable and do double duty in the shower and over the toilet. Many are available with a tilt (or power tilt) option, and some seating can be customized for users who need extra support.



The Dependa-Bar: A SuperPole alternative for inside the showehea-dependabar-lady-in-towelr


The Dependa-Bar offers excellent support in the bath or shower, can pivot and lock every 45°, and can be locked out of the way when not needed.

Dmoen_tp_bar_with_hand_grabbingesigner grab bars

Moen’s line of bathroom equipment is designed to blend in with your bathroom’s decor while offering safety and support. Grab bars are “disguised” as toilet paper holders, towel bars or shelves, and they even offer an attractive hand-held shower.

Helpful resources from the Government of B.C.:

Fall risk assessment questionnaire

Home Safety Checklist

12 Steps to Stair Safety at Home

Vancouver Coastal Health’s Fall Prevention Website has some excellent resources, including some specifically for health care professionals. Their informational brochures are available in English, Chinese, Farsi and Punjabi.

Please contact us at SelfCare Home Health Products if you have any questions about bathroom safety or fall prevention for seniors.

Think Safe! Road Safety Tips for Mobility Scooter Users

Think Safe! Road Safety Tips for Mobility Scooter Users

If you’re just taking your scooter out of storage or you’re thinking of buying your first mobility scooter, these tips will make sure your first outing will be safe and worry free.

By law, a person driving a motorized scooter or wheelchair is considered a pedestrian and must follow the same road rules as pedestrians do.

  • Obey all traffic rules for pedestrians.
  • Drive on the sidewalk whenever you can. If there aren’t any sidewalks, drive on the far left hand side of the road, facing traffic.
  • If there’s no sidewalk, ride on the far left side of the roadway.
  • Cross the road only at crosswalks or intersections; make sure all traffic has stopped before you cross, and make eye contact with the approaching drivers to make sure they’ve seen you.
  • Operation of scooters in bike lanes is not allowed when a sidewalk is available.

Practice makes perfect!

  • If you’re using your mobility scooter for the first time, take it to an empty parking lot or other quiet, safe place. Get used to driving it before you take it out on the public streets.
  • Read the user manual to make sure you know how all the features of your new scooter work.

Take curb cuts safely

  • Approach curb cuts, driveways and ramps straight on.
  • Always drive on the most level area of the curb cut, even if it means moving outside of the crosswalk lines. If you drive sideways on a curb cut, you could tip over.

Get familiar with your neighbourhood

  • Find the routes in your neighbourhood that are the easiest to navigate with your scooter. Be aware of curbs that don’t have curb cuts and streets that don’t have sidewalks so you can plan your route ahead of time and avoid these areas if necessary.
  • Give yourself extra time to get to your destination in case of unexpected delays.

Make yourself as visible as possible

  • Wear brightly coloured or reflective clothing.
  • Use a safety flag for your scooter.
  • If your scooter doesn’t have lights on the back or front, you can add a light package to your scooter for extra safety and visibility.
  • Add reflective strips to the front, back and sides of your scooter.

Get training to use transit

  • In Vancouver, the Coast Mountain Bus Company offers free training sessions for using your scooter or mobility aid. Call 604-264-5420 to make an appointment.
  • If you’re outside of the Metro Vancouver area, contact your local transit authority; it’s very likely that they have a training program in place for scooter, wheelchairs and other mobility equipment.

Please contact us at SelfCare if you have any questions about scooters or any other mobility equipment or medical equipment. We also sell and rent wheelchairs, stairlifts & hospital beds.



Top Tips – Get Your Scooter Ready for Spring

Scooter Season

Spring has sprung and it’s time to get your mobility scooter out of storage and ready to scoot! Follow these simple tips to make sure that your scooter will be safe and run smoothly after its season in storage.

Tip #1 – Check the tire pressure

If your mobility scooter has air-filled tires, the tire pressure may have dropped since you last used your scooter. Check your user manual for the suggested tire pressure to make sure your tires are ready to go.

Tip #2 – Check your batteries

If your scooter batteries haven’t been charged much (or at all) over the fall/winter season, you’ll definitely need to charge them up, or purchase a new pair if they’re completely flat.

Tip #3 – Listen for any odd noises

Drive your scooter for a few minutes in your driveway, yard or parking garage and listen for any odd noises. If your scooter is making any noises that you don’t remember it making before, or that are causing you concern, it might be best to get a spring tuneup or checkup before you get started with your spring scooting.

Tip #4 – Travelling & cruising with a scooter

If your regular mobility scooter is too large or unwieldy to come travelling with you, you may wish to rent a smaller travel scooter or purchase a folding travel scooter to take with you on your vacation.

Travel scooters like the Pride Go-Go Scooter will come apart into 3 lighter-weight pieces that can be more easily transported in a vehicle.

Folding travel scooters like this one are fairly inexpensive to purchase and fold up in seconds to fit inside any closet, corner or vehicle trunk. You can also roll it around while it’s folded up so moving it from one location to another is a breeze.

Both of these styles of scooter usually have a lower weight capacity and less range than a standard mobility scooter, so be sure to check the manufacturer’s specifications before renting or purchasing one.

Happy travels!

Please contact us if you have any questions about mobility scooters, or any other mobility equipment including wheelchairs, stairlifts and hospital beds. We rent or sell most of the equipment we carry.

The Bathroom SuperPole Alternative

The Best Alternative to a SuperPole In A Shower

Can you install a SuperPole in a shower?

“Can you install a SuperPole in a shower?” This is a fairly common question, and unfortunately the answer is no. The SuperPole is tension mounted and can’t be safely installed in a bath or shower. Luckily, there is a wonderful alternative…

The bathroom SuperPole alternative

The Dependa-Bar is an excellent alternative to a SuperPole in the bath or shower.

Like the SuperPole, the Dependa-Bar:

  • Pivots (5 locking positions).
  • Installs to the appropriate height.
  • Comes in easy-to-grip knurled stainless steel or an anti-microbial white powder coat.

And it can be locked out of the way against the wall when not being used, or when others are using the bath or shower.

The Dependa-Bar can be combined with a bath seat or bath bench for a safe and stable bath or shower.

Caregiver Tips

  • Clients who’ve suffered a stroke, partial paralysis or have neuromuscular disorders may find the Dependa-Bar to offer life-changing support.
  • A standard grab bar placed on the left side wall of someone with left sided paralysis will provide no help.  The Dependa-Bar can be pivoted open in front of the user to provide safe, centralized and well-balanced support for someone with partial paralysis to shower independently.
  • A grab bar with a textured surface offers better gripping when the bar is wet. Through the process of “knurling”, we cut a diamond pattern directly into the metal.
  • We recommend that grab bar mounting screws be inspected and tightened on a regular basis.

See the Dependa-Bar installation instructions.

Reduce clutter with the SuperPole and SuperBar

Although the SuperPole can’t be used directly in the bath or shower, the SuperPole/SuperBar combination can replace many safety products in the bathroom, bedroom, kitchen and living room, reducing clutter in the home. It can also be used just outside the bath or shower as a stability and transfer aid.

See the SuperPole installation instructions.

Please contact SelfCare if you have any questions about the Dependa-Bar or the SuperPole, or any other bathroom safety equipment. We’d love to hear from you!

Hospital Beds – Your Questions Answered

Hospital Beds - Your Questions Answered

Choosing a hospital bed, whether for rental, purchase, or for a client, can be a confusing process. If you’re delving into the world of medical equipment for the first time, you’ll be trying to figure out the lingo as well. Here’s some information to help you narrow things down and make the right choice for yourself or your loved one.

What is an adjustable bed (as opposed to a hospital bed)?

Generally, an adjustable bed is an electric bed that is designed primarily for user comfort with multiple positions for the head and foot but without functionality for the entire bed to raise or lower. This type of bed often has a large box spring that is low to the ground and prevents a floor lift from being used.

How is a hospital bed different from a regular bed?rotechmulti-tech-hospital-bed-210-269-1

A hospital bed can be used for positioning, relieving/preventing pressure from long periods in bed, safety, transfers, and to assist in caregiving.

  1. The head and foot section can be adjusted up or down, independently of each other.
  2. The entire bed can move up and down.
  3. Adjustments can be done by the user or a caregiver.
  4. Safety features like bed rails are available.
  5. Some hospital beds have additional positioning options like Trendelenburg position.

What is Trendelenburg position and do I need it?trendelenburg-position-old-school

Trendelenburg position is, very simply, when you are lying flat on your back and your feet are elevated higher than your head by 15 to 30 degrees. Your medical or health care professional will let you know if you need a hospital bed with the Trendelenburg feature.

What is the controversy regarding bed rails?wibo_carisma_side_rails2

Bed rails have been categorized as a restraint in some care facilities and are no longer permitted. This has resulted in a need for the sleeping surface to be closer to the floor so that if someone falls out of bed, he/she is not severely injured. Bed rails also achieved notoriety in the US when some deaths occurred as a result of patients getting their head wedged between the mattress and the rails. This was in 2005/2006 and since that time all manufacturers have adjusted their bed rails to be “reduced gap” bed rails. Most rails nowadays provide a hand hold for steadying yourself when you stand or have controls embedded so the control is easy to locate and are low risk.

Will my insurance pay for a hospital bed?

Most private insurance in Canada will pay for a hospital bed and mattress. Some have a “customary and usual” limit that is applied depending on the policy. Speak to your insurance company directly wibo_carisma_bedto get the information on what your specific coverage will be. Usually with pre-approval, the insurance company will pay the medical equipment provider directly and the insured person only has to pay the deductible. Most funding agencies will purchase hospital beds and mattresses.

Is it better to rent or purchase an electric hospital bed?

Rental beds are best for short-term recovery needs, such as following a hip replacement or other hospital stay. Most purchased beds are for a long-term need such as when a large amount of each day is spent in bed and comfort or independence is improved by the bed. Rent-to-own is an excellent option if you don’t know how long you’re going to need the bed, or if you’d like to spread out your payments.

SelfCare is the largest supplier of rental hospital beds in the Metro Vancouver area and we’d be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please contact us.

We’re hosting 2 free information seminars on hospital beds and mattresses in April 2016:

North Vancouver
Wed April 13th, 2016
Lions Gate Hospital Gym (map to the gym)
231 East 15th St.
North Vancouver
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

Port Coquitlam
Wed Apr 20th
SelfCare Tri-Cities
#114, 1533 Broadway St.
Port Coquitlam
1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Free, easy parking
Invitation & details here

Stay At Home Safely – Home Renovations for Seniors

Stay at Home Safely Home Renovations for Seniors

Most people in the health care industry firmly believe that, as you age, the healthiest place (both mentally and physically) for you to be is in your own home. Although there can be significant barriers to staying safely at home, many of these can be overcome with the proper safety equipment and some minor home renovations. These options are much less expensive than moving to a facility, or hiring in-home care (though home care can be an excellent supplement to the suggestions below).

Home Renovations for Safety


Installing a stairlift is one of the minor renovations that can make the Handicare Xclusive stairlift happy lady with remotebiggest difference to your comfort and safety at home. Sometimes having a stairlift can be the deciding factor in your decision to remain at home or move to a single-level home or a facility. Stairlifts are generally very quick and easy to install, and many are rentable as well. Outdoor and indoor stairlifts are available so you can still get down to your beachfront and enjoy the ocean view!


There are so many different kinds of ramps available; these can generally be purchased or rented. If you’re using a wheelchair, or just have difficulty getting over the threshold, there are numerous options available, both for rental and purchase.


Bathroom Safety

floor-to-ceiling-pole-superbarFloor to Ceiling Poles

Floor to ceiling poles can be permanently installed in a bathroom, at bedside or anywhere else extra support is needed. These are also a low cost piece of equipment that can be rented if not needed permanently, or if a rent-to-own program is desired. Talk to your occupational therapist or other health care professional to get the best placement for your poles.

Grab Bars

Grab bars range from simple, knurled stainless steel to decorative bathroom equipment that masquerades as a toilet roll holder or towel bar. These are normally (and most safely) permanently installed in your bathroom, or wherever else they’re needed in your house. Suction cup grab bars are also an option for when permanent ones won’t work, although these are not meant to support the user’s full weight, and will need to be tested and reapplied before each use. Sometimes you may be asked to sign a waiver before purchasing a suction grab bar.

General Bathroom Safety

There are many other safety items that can be used in the bathroom:

All of these can make a huge difference to your safety in the bathroom. Your community therapist or private therapist will be able to give you specific recommendations for your home.

Home Renovation Tax Credits for B.C. Seniors

BC Home Renovation Tax Credit for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. This is for BC seniors (age 65 and over) and persons with disabilities to assist with certain permanent home renovations to improve accessibility, functionality and mobility at home. Please check the website very carefully to see if you qualify.

BC Housing’s Home Adaptations for Independence. This funding will start again in April 2016 – keep an eye on their website for further details. It’s to help low-income seniors and people with disabilities in BC to continue to live in the comfort of their home. Please check the website carefully for details and to see if you qualify.


BC Seniors’ Guide

Download the PDF (in 4 languages) or the free e-book or order a printed copy . Or, stop in to SelfCare North Vancouver to pick up your free copy (please call first to make sure we still have some).

Healthy Families BC

Visit this website for many informative articles and videos on aging well.

Family Guide to Services for Seniors

From Fraser Health, this guide contains links and information on services that will help you (or your loved ones) remain independent in their home.


Please contact us at SelfCare for more information. We have 4 community locations in BC’s Lower Mainland and would be very happy to hear from you.

ISS 2016: YES, They Are Listening

ISS 2016-The Best Things We Learned

We’re so lucky to be located in Vancouver B.C., where the International Seating Symposium (ISS) is held every 2 years. It’s a short drive for all of the staff to take in a day’s (or a week’s, in the case of our Seating & Mobility Consultants) worth of knowledge, new products and seminars.

Functionality has always been a large part of what the manufacturers have had on offer, but this year more than ever ISS paid attention to products that make life easier for the caregiver.

Some of the highlights were:

New flip down quick release headrest from NXT

  • No more tennis ball hitting caregivers in the chest; the headrest bracket now folds neatly out of harm’s way.
  • Transport a tilt chair without changing the headrest position with the the quick remove headrest hardware.

Affordable power assist options for manual chairs

RAZ commodes – easy transfers & caster locking

  • Flip the arm trough down and the armrest and lateral up for the easiest transfers ever. Short video here.
  • Don’t waste energy keeping on track with the easy-to-apply locking directional caster. Quick demo on YouTube. The caster locks still work even if you have the directional lock enabled!

Wheel freely over rough, uneven terrain with the FrontWheel from Sunrise Medical.

  • Lift your front casters off the ground with this off-road wheelchair attachment.
  • See a short demo from ISS 2016.

Automate the tilt position of a chair with Robo P.A.W.S. (Power Assisted Weight Shifting) technology

  • Set the angles, time intervals and level of notification with this power add-on for manual tilt chairs.
  • Available now for the Quickie IRIS and Invacare Solara tilt chairs.
  • Coming soon for the PDG Fuze, Ki Mobility Focus CR and Broda Mid 18.

RoboPAWS tilt image