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August 26 2008 - Update

Notice to Specialised Assessors regarding Ministry of Health funding for Suction Type Hand Rails

After careful investigation and consideration, Enable New Zealand and accessable have made a nationally consistent decision to decline Ministry of Health funding requests for the provision of suction type hand rails to meet a long term disability related need.

Some of the issues impacting on the decision are outlined below: 

  • Suction rails have been described as an equipment option providing partial support to assist the user and good for temporary installations. They must be fixed to non-porous surfaces and do not require permanent fixed installation.
  • There is no guarantee the rail will be used for its intended purpose as a partial support and they are not designed to hold or support the users full body weight.
  • There is insufficient evidence that suction rails are a safe solution for long term use, to meet long term disability needs 
  • There is good evidence that if standard permanent rails are installed correctly then the client is safe. The same reassurance can not be provided for the suction rail.
  • Suction rails require ongoing maintenance involving releasing of the suction cups, cleaning the surface/suction cups and then re-suction of the rail. This could potentially lead to incidents of poor installation if multiple people/caregivers are doing this maintenance. Standard rails, once installed correctly, do not need this maintenance.
  • There is no known way of testing the product to evaluate whether it is safe for re-issue, therefore Enable New Zealand and accessable would not consider having the product in the reissue equipment pool


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