Tips for Stress-Free Capital Equipment Planning in Long-Term Care

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In this post, we share tips on capital equipment planning for Canadian long-term care facilities.

The Importance of Capital Equipment Planning

With autumn just around the corner, most long-term care facilities are evaluating their medical equipment supply and figuring out how to spend their remaining capital equipment budget and get what they need.

Unfortunately, pandemic related material shortages have led to a limited supply of equipment. This includes larger items like hospital beds, lifts, bathing units, and more.

To make matters worse, your facility is competing with every other facility for the same limited items. It’s not an easy environment to plan around, yet this equipment is critical to care.

How can facilities overcome this challenge? Below are our top tips for stress-free capital equipment planning and spending strategies for your long-term care facility in Canada.

Understand the Equipment You Have 

Before you know what to buy, you need to understand what you already have. This may seem obvious, but often models are discontinued over time or look very similar to one type when it is another version altogether.

These differences matter when it comes to repairs and sourcing parts.

Further challenging is if you came from another facility that had a different supply chain you were used to. Maybe they used different vendors or were purchasing incompatible or economy products. As a result, you may not have full view of the options out there for quality products and potential cost savings.

Things to note when evaluating your equipment supply before upgrading: 

  • Age of equipment – beds have a 20-year lifetime whereas mattresses are replaced after 7 years 
  • SKU and model numbers 
  • Warranty information – know whether equipment is under warranty and when it is expected to expire 
  • Quantity needed – purchasing small numbers throughout the year is common to spread budget out, but this can lead to several different models throughout the facility. The results in confusion for staff and residents about equipment functioning, parts, and maintenance

Know When You’ll Need Equipment By 

The current supply shortage can add months to an equipment order. Without securing your order in advance, it’s likely you won’t receive what you need in time.

If you’ve determined you need your equipment by the end of December, for example, placing the order at least three months in advance will increase the chances of meeting your timeline.

Place your orders as early as possible (ideally months in advance) 

The sooner you put your orders in, the better chance you have of securing what you need before the end of the calendar year.

Take Into Consideration Cost of Operating Equipment 

Capital planning doesn’t just include the cost of purchasing equipment. It also includes the cost of operating it over its lifetime, which can be upwards of 10 years.

Services such as repairs and servicing, preventative maintenance (annual or semi-annual), rail compliance audits, and load or track testing for lifts are all part of your capital equipment spend.

Knowing this in advance helps you choose a provider that offers all these needs in one place. That certainty will reduce stress by helping you properly plan for the future.

Make Informed Purchasing Decisions

One of the most important things you can do when sourcing an equipment provider is to make educated and informed decisions on who you buy from and equipment quality.

A common trap is choosing the only vendor you are familiar with, or that your facility has used previously. This can lead to missed opportunities for cost savings and additional benefits like servicing or preventative maintenance which you are guaranteed to need anyway over time.

Instead, do your due diligence and request quotes from multiple trusted vendors. This will increase your chance of satisfaction and optimal maintenance long term.

Also, buying the wrong thing–whether it’s mismatching a bed to the wrong mattress, or over-purchasing bariatric items, be sure the vendor properly qualifies the sale. Not all companies will go the extra mile to make sure a piece of equipment is right for you. This includes making sure it’s a fit clinically so that you’re not buying something that doesn’t work for your residents’ needs. Choose a provider that offers demos or trials before purchasing will make sure it’s correct for your exact scenario.

It is also a good idea to partner with a company that works with multiple vendors, as opposed to just one or two. This gives you more options to choose from based on your needs and ensures you’re not frequently having to

Avoid Relying Too Heavily on Sales Reps 

Over-relying on individual sales reps can also be detrimental. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with building a positive relationship, but if the rep leaves—which is often the case given long equipment lifetimes—you could be left without support if something needs repairs or an upgrade.

Buy From Medical Device Licence Holders

Make sure that your chosen provider is licensed by Health Canada to sell or import medical devices (beds, lifts, and tubs all fall under this category). This is a must given how important capital equipment is to resident care.

Look for a Medical Device Establishment Licence (MDEL) for the facility, which you can look up on Health Canada’s website. For example, you can see SFI Medical’s MDEL by searching the company or our Class I licence (#7647). This authorizes the distribution, import, or manufacture of medical devices and Class II permitting import.

This provides assurance that medical devices meet the safety requirements set out in the Medical Devices Regulations. It also indicates that procedures are in place to protect the public should a problem with a device be identified.

Understand Your Obligations for Equipment Functioning & Resident Safety

As a facility, you are encouraged to perform activities such as entrapment testing for hospital beds to reduce the risk of patient entrapment. This involves auditing beds and testing them for entrapment zones 1 through 7 according to Health Canada’s Guidance Document on entrapment.

Working with a company with trained auditors, like SFI Medical, allows you to meet these requirements from the same place you buy your equipment. This expert level knowledge will go a long way toward proper equipment functioning and resident safety.

Load testing and track testing for patient lifts is also an important step to take. Patient lift failure can lead to serious injury or death. At SFI Medical, our technicians are trained to perform lift testing for all brands and models we offer.

Know the Service Capabilities of Your Chosen Vendor

Capital equipment planning runs much more smoothly when working with a trusted vendor who offers service in addition to sales.

When buying from an equipment vendor, make sure to check that they authorized to service that particular equipment and what their capabilities are. Making sure their services fit with your equipment helps keep things simple by eliminating excess vendors and making scheduling a service call more efficient.

Be Aware of Group Purchasing Options 

Group purchasing, such as through SGP Purchasing Partner Network, can be a more cost-effective way to source equipment from trusted providers at a lower member rate.  SFI Medical is proud to be a member of SGP (read about the 2020 Excellence Award given to us from SGP last year).SGP | SFI Medical Equipment Solutions

Be aware of the group purchasing options available in your region. If you are new to a facility, you may not know that there are multiple group purchasing options available to you. This will enhance your sourcing stream to optimize the chances of getting the right equipment from trusted providers.

Need More Help With Capital Equipment Planning? 

Reach out to the SFI Medical team for help! We’re always available to assist with your equipment needs. You can always reach us by phone (1-888-734-4575) or email (info@vaughnj44.sg-host.com).

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