Oxygen concentrators have become an essential medical device for many Australians who require supplemental oxygen. As the demand for these devices grows, patients and caregivers must educate themselves on the different types of oxygen concentrators available and the factors to consider when selecting one. This guide will provide an overview of using oxygen concentrators in Australia – from understanding terminology to finding the suitable model for your needs.
Understanding Oxygen Concentrator Terminology
There are a few key terms to know when learning about oxygen concentrators:
Liters Per Minute (LPM)
This refers to the oxygen flow rate the device can provide, with most models ranging from 1 to 5 LPM. The LPM needed depends on your doctor’s oxygen prescription.
Pulse Flow vs. Continuous Flow
Pulse flow machines deliver oxygen in pulses, while continuous flow is a steady stream. Pulse flow is considered more efficient for lower oxygen needs.
Refers to the percentage of oxygen in the air delivered, with most concentrators providing 90-95%. Higher rates, around 99%, may be needed for severe respiratory conditions.
Operating Sound Level
Necessary for home use, this measures how noisy or quiet the machine is. Sound levels are measured in decibels (dB).
Types of Oxygen Concentrators
There are a few main types of oxygen concentrators suitable for home use. The significant differences are their size, weight, and flow capacity.
The most common type provides higher oxygen flow rates for more severe respiratory conditions. They are larger, typically weighing over 40 pounds. Mobility is limited due to their heavy weight and need for a power outlet.
More lightweight and compact models are designed for on-the-go use. They have lower flow capacities of up to 3 LPM and typically last 1-5 hours on battery power. The lifespan of portable models may be shorter.
Handheld Oxygen Concentrators
The smallest and lightest models fit in the palm of your hand. They provide pulse flow oxygen up to 2 LPM. The compact size makes them easy to take anywhere. They have relatively short battery life compared to portable models.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Model
With many oxygen concentrator models available in Australia, weighing the pros and cons of each based on your specific needs is essential. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Flow Rate – Select a model that can deliver your prescribed LPM. Stationary models often go higher.
- Mobility – Do you need to use oxygen on the go or stick close to home? Portable models offer more flexibility.
- Noise Level – If sound disturbance is a concern, look for quieter models around 40 dB.
- Settings & Modes – Choose a model with backgrounds that match your doctor’s orders. Look for different pulse flow modes.
- Ease of Use – Ensure the interface and controls are intuitive for you or your caregiver. Models with fewer settings can be more straightforward.
- Battery Life – A battery duration of 3-5 hours per charge is typical for portables. Prioritise longer battery life if using oxygen frequently on the move.
- Size & Weight – Stationary models take up more space. Portable and handhelds are designed to be compact and lightweight.
- Budget – Stationary and portable concentrator prices in Australia are around $1000-$1500. Handhelds are $500+. Compare the costs of models with your oxygen needs and budget.
- Reliability & Warranty – Reputable oxygen concentrator brands stand behind their products with 3-5 years warranties for peace of mind.
Navigating Oxygen Funding Options
Purchasing an oxygen concentrator in Australia can be expensive, especially for high-quality models. There are a few options to help offset the costs:
Private Health Insurance
Many insurance providers offer rebates for prescribed oxygen concentrators when specific criteria are met. The reimbursement amount varies greatly. Check with your provider.
The Commonwealth Home Support Programme provides subsidies for home oxygen equipment based on need. Contact My Aged Care to learn more about eligibility. Some state/territory programs also exist.
Many medical supply companies offer monthly rentals of oxygen concentrators, which spreads out costs over time rather than a lump purchase sum. Drawbacks are rental fees, older models, and no ownership.
Some equipment providers let you pay for concentrators over 12-24 months through fixed payment plans. This reduces large upfront payments. Be sure to read terms closely first.
Buy Back/Upgrade Programs
A few brands let you trade in concentrators up to 5 years old to get credit toward a new device. This can offset upgrade costs when your needs change.
Finding the Best Oxygen Concentrator for You
With this overview of the types of oxygen concentrators and factors to consider, you can feel more informed when searching for a device suited to your needs, budget, and lifestyle in Australia. Be sure to consult your doctor and respiratory therapist for specific device recommendations. It’s wise to purchase from reputable online medical suppliers or local providers that stand behind their products, offer rentals/payment plans, and provide customer support. With an appropriate oxygen concentrator that’s properly maintained, you or your loved one can breathe easier at home and on the go. When purchasing an oxygen concentrator in Australia, search online for oxygen concentrator in Australia retailers to find suppliers with a wide selection of models and features.