Mealtime Partners, Inc.


Specializing in Assistive Dining and Drinking Equipment

 

Mealtime Partners Drinking Products

Even though Mealtime Partners is the premier provider of hands-free dining equipment, the company also provides and extensive line of drinking systems because we recognized that dehydration is a significant problem for those who have limited hand and/or arm function and who have difficulty eating independently.

Medical treatment for rehydration is estimated to have exceeded $5 billion in the U.S. in 2004 for hospital admissions due to dehydration alone. If these costs are projected to the present and to include the entire population, it is obviously an enormous medical expense that could be significantly reduced with preventative treatment. (For more information on this subject, please read the High Cost of Dehydration.)

Not only is being able to drink at will important to overall health, it is also significant to quality of life. Even something as trivial as independent drinking can be very meaningful to those who lack the ability to hold and lift a cup or bottle.

For most individuals, dehydration is 100% preventable. And yet many people with disabilities suffer from some level of dehydration almost constantly. Due to the great importance of proper hydration, Mealtime Partners recommends that everyone be provided the means to drink at any time they wish. To achieve this goal, Mealtime Partners, Inc. has developed a variety of hands-free drinking systems. These systems provide many potential users with a method for drinking independently.

Front Mounted Drinking System Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning
Fig. 1 - Front Mounted Drinking System Fig. 2 - Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning
Drink-Partner Hospital Bed Hydration System
Fig. 3 - Drink-Partner Fig. 4 - Hospital Bed Hydration System

The Front Mounted Drinking System (Figure 1) provides a cup holder that can be positioned near the mouth of the user. Common drink containers (like a can of soda, a coffee mug, etc.) can be used with a straw to provide a variety of drinks for the user. The three other drinking systems pictured above use a drinking tube (serving as a very long straw) that is contained by plastic tubing sections that can be easily shaped as needed to position the end of the drinking tube near the user's mouth, thus making liquid (usually water) available to them whenever they desire. The drinking systems shown in Figures 2 and 4 utilize a large bladder, so water will be available for an extended period, reducing the amount of individual care time required. Additional information about all of the Mealtime Partners Drinking Systems and products is provided below.

 

Considerations for Selecting the Appropriate Drinking System

There are several considerations for choosing a drinking system. Foremost is the user’s ability to move their head and/or upper body, and their ability to suck and swallow. If they have good suction, a drinking system can usually be mounted on the back of a wheelchair or a bed head which is out of the way and unobtrusive. Mealtime Partners provides several drinking systems for users with these capabilities: the Drink-Partner and five Hydration Backpack Drinking Systems. The Drink-Partner comes with a (25 oz.) insulated bottle; the Hydration Backpack Drinking Systems have a 70 oz. or 100 oz. bladder to hold liquids. The Hydration Backpack System with Drinking Tube Positioning comes with a flexible drinking tube positioning conduit (or, flex-tube) that will hold the drinking tube's position firmly, at any location and orientation. The delivery tubes for the Hydration Backpack Drinking Systems have a bite-valve on the end for easy access to a drink. The user simply bites the valve to open it and can then suck the liquid from the bladder. The Hydration Backpack Drinking System (with either 70 or 100 oz. bladder) provides a drinking tube that can be “clipped” to the user’s shirt near the user’s mouth for access to liquids. The Drink-Partner tube is semi-rigid and contains no valve, thus no bite is required. However, the user must be able to pucker their lips around the tube to be able to drink from the Drink-Partner. The Drink-Partner requires a stronger suction capability than some of the other Mealtime Partners drinking systems.

Unfortunately, many people who are unable to pick up a drink with their hands, also have a limited ability to suck and require a short straw from which to drink (instead of a long drink tube). This reduces the mounting possibilities for a drinking system. The system must be in front of the user and close to their mouth. The Mealtime Partners Front Mounted Drinking System is comprised of a drink holder, a Flex Arm and a clamping system. The Drink Holder is then positioned to hold a drink container (cup, bottle, etc.) close to the user's mouth. Thus, the straw can be as short as necessary to facilitate easy suction for the user. Many people who have substandard suction also have poor muscle tone that leads to a weak swallow. To facilitate swallowing safely, these individuals should have their drinking system positioned so that when they take a drink, their head and chin is lowered enough to produce a chin tuck. The following pictures illustrate how the Front Mounted Drinking System can be positioned to make this possible.

Front Mounted Drinking System Front Mounted Drinking System 
The Front Mounted Drinking System with a 30-Inch Flex Arm

An additional benefit of the Front Mounted Drinking System is that it is the easiest to clean of all Mealtime Partners drinking systems. Another drinking system is available for attaching to some of the newer powered wheelchairs: the Front Mounted Drinking System for Slide-Track. It comes with a different clamp and is easily attached to the Slide-Track rails that are available on many wheelchairs; otherwise it is identical to the Front Mounted Drinking System described above. For more information about (or to purchase) the two front mounted drinking systems, follow these links: the Front Mounted Drinking System or the Front Mounted Drinking System for Slide-Track.

For those people in the Hospital who are unable to hold or lift a drink to their mouth, a Hospital Bed Hydration System is also available. This comes with a clamping system that can be securely attached to many of the Intelligent Hospital Beds that are currently being used in special care units in hospitals. This system includes the hospital bed clamp, the drinking system (with 100 oz. capacity), a 22" flex-tube that positions the Drinking Tube Valve conveniently close to the patient's mouth for easy access.

For additional guidance about selecting the best drinking system to meet your specific requirements, please read the June 2012 Newsletter article: Can We Try This Drinking System?

Mealtime Partners also offers two special cups for individuals who are at a high risk of aspiration when they drink thin liquids. One-teaspoon (5 cc) of liquid is the maximum amount of liquid that is recommended per swallow for those with a high risk of aspiration. The Provale Cup dispenses liquids in the appropriate amount, thus greatly reducing the risk of aspiration for those individuals. However, the Provale Cup cannot be used with thickened liquids and must be used by lifting the cup to the mouth and tipping it. The RiJe Cup dispenses adjustable portions of liquids from 3cc to 15cc. It can be drunk from by the user lifting the cup to their lips and tipping it, or by using a straw. The RiJe Cup can also dispense nectar thick liquids (like maple syrup). The Thickened Liquids Cup is recommended for individuals who require even thicker liquids, to reduce the risk of aspiration.

Drink-Partner Drinking System 

The Drink-Partner Drinking System provides hands free drinking for those in a manual wheelchair, or a powered wheelchair that has a tubular frame or handles. The Drink-Partner for Slide-Track mounting allows the Drink-Partner to be mounted on powered wheelchairs that have Slide-Track mounting rails. The Drink-Partner consists of a 25 ounce water bottle, and a cup holder. The bottle has integrated into its cap, a vibration resistant, flex tube that holds the drinking tube that carries the liquid. The cup holder has a universal clamp that can be attached to tubes (or rails) with a diameter from 7/8 inch to 1-1/2 inches.

Drink-Partner

The Drink-Partner is most commonly clamped to the handle of the wheelchair and the flexible tube holder allows the tip of the drinking tube to be positioned very close to the user’s mouth. Other locations on a wheelchair frame are also functional.  

Because the drinking tube is firm, the user must be able to close their lips in a pucker around the tube to create a vacuum for sucking. Additionally, they must have the strength and suction to suck liquids around 30 inches. The Drink-Partner Drinking System is an excellent drinking system for individuals that can meet these functional requirements.

The Drink-Partner Drinking System is suitable for individuals who can move their head freely to one side and who have good lip control and strong suction.

Hydration Backpack Drinking Systems

There are several versions of the Hydration Backpack available, three with a drinking tube positioning conduit and two without. All Hydration Backpacks are backpacks that contain a bladder that holds liquids. All use straps (shoulder straps or a shorter handle strap) to attach the Hydration Backpacks to the rear of the wheelchair. The bladders have a 50, 70 or 100 ounce capacity for maintaining hydration for longer periods of time than our other drinking systems, without refilling. The backpack lies flat against the back of a wheelchair to maintain a small footprint. All versions have a soft drinking tube and a mouthpiece bite valve that keeps liquid from leaking from the tube. When the user bites the mouthpiece, it opens so that suction may be applied to get a drink. Because of the large bladder sizes, the hydration backpacks are suitable for individuals who are “on the go”. Also, the hydration backpack systems do not require as strong a suction capability to use as the Drink-Partner.

The Hydration Backpack System with Drinking Tube Positioning

The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning is suitable for mounting on most manual wheelchairs and many powered wheelchairs. The Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning and the Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for Slide-Track were adapted by Mealtime Partners to make a larger volume of water (than a cup provides) available to individuals in wheelchairs, who are unable to access the drinking tube of a standard hydration backpack. To facilitate access to the drinking tube and bite valve for those who have limited range of head movement, and/or no hand or arm movement, the tube is contained within a flexible conduit, which we refer to as a flex-tube. The flex-tube is clamped to one of the handles or frame of a manual wheelchair, or to the slide-track slot of some of the powered wheelchairs. (The clamp is included with this drinking system). The flexible conduit can be shaped so that the tube is positioned to meet the needs and desires of the user. Once the flex-tube is shaped, it will hold it's positioned until it is adjusted. The drinking tube and bite valve are held in a position such that the user can easily place their mouth on the valve.

Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning

For manual wheelchairs shown above (MtP part no. 6559), the drinking tube attaches to the wheelchair handle or other tubular structural components of the wheelchair. This part can also be used for beds with metal rails.


Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for Slide-rack Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning for Slide-Track

For wheelchairs with Slide-Track shown above (MtP part no. 6557), the drinking tube attaches to the wheelchair slide-track, as shown above. The short section of slide-track just below the headrest is the ideal location for attachment to the wheelchair and can be on the left side of the user (as shown above) or it can be installed on the right side depending upon the user's preference.

All of the Hydration Backpack Drinking Systems with Drinking Tube Positioning are suitable for individuals who have limited head movement and who have adequate oral control to bite and suck.

The liquid containers hold 70 ounces of liquid providing long periods of hydration without requiring a refill.  The manual wheelchair version can also be mounted on beds or other fixed structures (tables, etc.) It is particularly useful for mounting on older (i.e., metal) hospital beds rails or bed heads as it relieves busy hospital staff from constantly providing the hydration required for rapid recovery. (For the newer hospital beds, see the Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Hydration System, below.)

Click the following link for detailed instructions on the Use and Maintenance of the Hydration Backpack with Drinking Tube Positioning.

The Hydration Backpack Drinking System

The Hydration Backpack Drinking System (without drinking tube positioning) is pictured below. The drinking tube can lie freely across the user's shoulder or can be clipped onto clothing to maintain the position near the user's mouth. This Drinking System is available in both 50 and 70 oz. versions.

The Hydration Backpack

The Hydration Backpack Unbottle

The Hydration Backpack Unbottle is an insulated pack that contains a bladder that holds 100 ounces of fluid. Also, the Unbottle has a strap handle at the top of the pack (unlike the Hydration Backpack Drinking System that has shoulder straps). This allows the Unbottle to be hooked over a single handle of a wheelchair or attached to any hook or bar on a wheelchair or bed.

The Hydration Backpack Unbottle

The Hydration Backpack Unbottle is suitable for hanging on hospital beds or similar objects and has the greatest capacity of all of the Mealtime Partners Drinking Systems. It is included as part of the Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Hydration System, described later.

 

The Front Mounted Drinking System

The Front Mounted Drinking System was developed by Mealtime Partners to provide access to fluids to our customers who use wheelchairs but who have a very limited range of head and trunk movement, and, who additionally have weak suction. The system consists of a heavy-duty Flex Arm that has a clamp on one end and a cup holder on the other. It also comes with a Koozie for the cup holder.

Front Mounted Drinking System Front Mounted Drinking System for Slide-Track
The Front Mounted Drinking System The Front Mounted Drinking System for Slide-Track

The Front Mounted Drinking System clamps to many of the tubes of a wheelchair frame or hospital bed. The Front Mounted Drinking System for Slide-Track clamps to one of the Slide-Track rails on the wheelchair. After the clamp is attached to the wheelchair or bed, the heavy duty Flex Arm can be bent to position the cup holder within easy reach of the user’s mouth. Once bent, the heavy duty arm holds its position well.

Front Mounted Drinking System with 18-Inch Flex Arm 

The cup holder can accommodate a variety of cups and bottles including an insulated coffee mug. A koozie is also provided to keep drinks hot or cold (in the picture below, the cup holder has a purple koozie and green and yellow cup). A Flex Arm allows custom positioning for each individual. The Front Mounted Drinking System has several mounting options: Flex Arms come in 6 inch, 12 inch, 18 inch, 24 inch and 30 inch lengths, to accommodate different user heights and seating systems.

Front Mounted Drinking System

Because the cup is positioned in front of the user, a short straw can be used with this system. This close proximity allows many of those who have poor suction to be able to drink from this system.

An additional benefit of the Front Mounted Drinking System is that it is the easiest to clean of all Mealtime Partners drinking systems because it can be used with disposable cups and bottles or with containers that are easy to wash. Also, it can be used with disposable straws, and, there is no long drink tube to clean. (The longer the drink tube, the more difficult it is to clean.) For individuals who bite and crush straws, a short piece of oxygen tubing can be substituted for a disposable straw. It is still much easier to clean than the longer drinking tubes required in the other drinking systems and is inexpensive, so it can be replaced frequently.

The Front Mounted Drinking System and the Front Mounted Drinking System for Slide-Track are suitable for individuals who have limited movement and/or poor suction and is easier to maintain than the other drinking systems.

They allow the user to have a variety of different drinks throughout the day, like water, coffee, milk or juice, because the containers can be quickly interchanged with little effort required on the part of the caregiver.

 

The Hospital Bed Hydration System

The Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Hydration System is suitable for individuals who are having difficulty picking up or holding a cup. Because adequate hydration is essential for the best medical outcomes for hospital patients, making water available to those patients who have limited, or no, use of their hands and/or arms is very important, the Hospital Bed Hydration System can significantly impact their long term health. This system provides a large 100 oz. fluid capacity.

Because one-point clamps do not hold their position well on plastic bed rails, this hydration system features a unique clamp with attachment holder. The clamp was especially designed to securely clamp to many of the intelligent hospital beds now in use in intensive care, cardiac care, and surgical units, where standard clamps fail to hold their position due to bed construction. The attachment holder attaches to the clamp and accommodates a flexible conduit for a drink tube.

Hospital Bed Hydration System
The Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Hydration System

Alternatively, for those who use Sip N Puff controls mounted on a Flex Arm and need a more secure bed clamping system, the Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Clamping System will fulfill that function. In addition, it will permit adding a Hydration Backpack Unbottle with the drink tube parallel to the Sip N Puff control tube for easy access to either tube.

Hospital Bed Clamp System
The Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Clamp System with Sip N Puff Flex Arm and the Hydration Backpack Unbottle

The Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Hydration System is suitable for individuals who have little, or no use or their hands or arms, and are confined to a hospital bed. A drinking system can be added to a Sip N Puff control system using the Mealtime Partners Hospital Bed Clamp System and a Hydration Backpack Unbottle.

The Provale Cup

Provole Cup

 

The Provale Cup is suitable for individuals who are at risk of aspiration when they drink thin liquids. The Provale Cup controls the amount of liquid that is delivered each time that the cup is tipped up. One teaspoon ( 5cc) of liquid is dispensed each time the cup is raised in a normal drinking motion. The cup must be returned to the upright position before more liquid will dispense.

Seek the advice of a physician or speech pathologist prior to using this cup if a diagnosis of Dysphagia has been made.

The RiJe Cup

The RiJe Cup

Like the Provale Cup, the RiJe Cup is also suitable for individuals who are at risk of aspiration when they drink thin liquids. It has some unique features not available in the Provale cup. The RiJe cup can be adjusted to regulate the volume of liquid that is dispensed for each swallow. It is able to dispense portions from 3cc to 15cc. This feature meets the changing needs of individuals who are recovering from a swallowing disorder or have a degenerative condition. They can have the volume of liquid that they drink adjusted as their condition changes. Thus the cup will serve their needs over an extended period. Once the liquid has been removed, the cup replenishes the next portion of liquid in 2 to 3 seconds. Consequently the user is unable to get more liquid immediately upon drinking the available portion and this creates a natural pause between swallows.

The RiJe Cup is quick and easy to assemble and adjust as demonstrated in the Assembly and Functions video. Written instructions for assembly and adjusting can be found at: RiJe Cup Instructions for Use. For a demonstration of drinking from the RiJe Cup, view the How to Drink from RiJe Cup video.

The Thickened Liquids Cup

The Thickened Liquids Cup

The Thickened Liquids Cup has been designed for individuals who require thickened liquids. It has two unique features that make it beneficial. First, it has a fully adjustable flow control that regulates the continuous output of liquids. It can be adjusted from a normal flow to a greatly reduced liquid delivery rate (as little as a drip at a time). Once the flow rate is selected, the regulator can be locked so that the user cannot adjust the flow rate (and thus inadvertently increase their risk of choking or aspiration). Secondly, the cup is specifically designed to provide liquids to the user without the need for the cup to be tipped at an angle of greater than 60 degrees.

 

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This page last updated on 11-02-2017.