A bedside commode is an important type of medical equipment for those who cannot get to the bathroom due to injury or mobility issues. Unlike a standard toilet, this device does not use running water. Instead, this portable toilet usually collects waste in a detachable basin. After use, the basin is emptied and sterilized.
Except for those who are incapacitated or non-ambulatory, most people can use a bedside commode with little or no assistance. A better option than a bedpan, the commode allows individuals to manage personal care while enjoying a level of personal independence.
Commodes are available at a variety of stores throughout the United States. These include medical supply stores, department stores, some drug stores, and home improvement stores. Many of these businesses also offer shipping of various models to local stores through their websites. In addition, online stores such as Amazon and eBay have models available.
Before visiting these stores in person or examining their websites, you should consider that there are many varieties of bedside commodes available. Items in stock at a nearby store or available through a website may not meet all of your needs. Commodes can range in cost from under $50 to more than $3,000, and due to the nature of their use, they are generally non-refundable.
The sections below describe different types of bedside commodes, places that may have used models at a lower price, and information about Medicare coverage for this important item. Investigate your many options to obtain the best bedside commode.
Factors to Consider Before Purchasing a Bedside Commode
Various design elements and structural features should be considered before selecting a commode that offers you the best fit for your circumstances.
- Stability Features: The user’s mobility should be evaluated, especially if they struggle with balance, are weak, or may need assistance using the commode. Some bedside commodes have wheels, while others have locking casters or rubber-tipped feet. Droppable armrests allow easier access from bed. Handrails offer leverage.
- Weight Capacity: Most standard commodes are designed to accommodate users who weigh up to 300 pounds. Heavier users will want to examine bariatric models with a larger seat design and greater weight capacity.
- Seat Design: Similar to traditional toilet seats, some seats have oval designs and others come in elongated shapes for larger users. In addition to the seat design, consider the opening’s size.
- Width and Height: Wider models are ideal for those with larger frames. Many bedside commodes have the ability to adjust the height of their legs.
- Foldable: Some lightweight commodes can be folded for ease of transport or storage. These models are ideal for people who want to move the commode into a different room and have it available while traveling.
- Wheels vs. Wheel-Free: Wheeled commodes offer flexibility if a caregiver is present. Some narrow models may also be used as a shower chair. For those who need a nearby commode only when in bed, a commode without wheels is appropriate.
- Materials: Consider the materials used in a commode’s design and how they affect the weight and mobility of the item. Stainless steel, aluminum, or healthcare-grade PVC may be used for the frame. PVC frames are generally easier to clean. Vinyl seats may offer greater comfort.
Bedside Commode Frames
When selecting your bedside commode, you have various frame options to consider:
- 3-in-1: The most versatile commode, it can also provide additional leverage as a toilet safety frame/raised toilet seat and a shower chair.
- Folding: Great for temporary use or if you have a visitor who requires a commode. When not in use, it can easily be stored. Some lightweight models also come with a carrying case for travel.
- Rolling: Can be used as a commode in a static position or to transport the user.
- Stationary: This static or standard design is a basic model that lacks wheels.
Accessibility Options with Bedside Commodes
Some users may have special needs that a simple bedside commode will not accommodate. Consider the following accessibility options that may be of assistance to the user and caregiver:
- Drop Arm: Great for lateral transfers. The armrest offers support if necessary when dropped and access when lifted.
- High-Visibility: Those having depth perception issues or visual impairments benefit from a more pronounced frame that lowers the risk of falling.
- Lift Assist: Some models have a stand-assist function with a seat that gently lowers and rises to help an individual get into the seated position during use or stand when finished.
- Pivoting-Armrest: Movable armrests allow users to get in or out of the seat while maintaining stability.
- Removable Back Bar: Offers greater flexibility depending on whether it is needed for additional support. Helpful for caregivers who assist with toileting or bathing.
- Self-Propelled Wheelchair: Fewer transfers are necessary for those who are mobility challenged and find it difficult to get up from the chair.
- Transport Chair: A smart choice for some in assisted living facilities or having limited mobility, this commode can be pushed by the caregiver while the user is on it, and secured with locking casters.
Used Bedside Commodes – Where to Find Them Near Me
People on a limited budget or who do not wish to purchase high-end models should also consider these options:
- Assistive Technology Programs: Found throughout the United States, these programs offer greater access to durable medical equipment, including bedside commodes. Programs are generally for the elderly and those with disabilities, and may have specific eligibility requirements that vary by location.
- Loan Closets for Medical Equipment: These offer short- and long-term loans for new or used medical equipment. Resources vary by location, and deposits are often required. Some loan closets are offered by senior centers, nonprofits, religious organizations, and various charities and community leadership groups. These loan closets are sometimes called medical equipment banks, community loan closets, or assistive technology lending libraries.
- Recycling/Refurbishing Centers: Low-cost or free durable medical equipment that may include bedside commodes. Check with your local library or Area Agency on Aging for possible locations.
- Online Listings and Local Thrift Stores: Local second-hand or thrift stores sometimes get donations of used medical equipment. You may also find listings on sites such as Craigslist. Exercise caution and confirm the conditions before purchasing equipment from these places.
Medicare Covers Bedside Commodes
Medicate Part B offers coverage for bedsire commodes prescribed with a doctor’s order, since they are considered durable medical equipment. Your doctor and the bedside commode supplier are required to participate or be enrolled in Medicare. Usually, Medicare covers 80% of the approved amount, with you responsible for 20%. There may be exclusions, limitations, or additional requirements, so consult with your physician.