The ventilator machine
The ventilator works when connected to a mains electricity supply. When the ventilator is turned on, it sucks in air through a filter from the room around you and blows it out under a pressure through a tube. The air is then delivered to you using either a mask that covers your nose (referred to as a nasal mask) or via a mask that covers your nose and mouth (referred to as a full face mask). Your prescriber will advise you on the most suitable type for you.
The ventilator delivers two levels of pressure: a higher level of pressure when you breathe in and a lower pressure when you breathe out.
Your ventilator is a medical device that should be treated with care and damp-dusted weekly. Always ensure your ventilator is unplugged from the main supply before you clean it. Your ventilator should not be stored on the floor because this is the dustiest part of a house. We will service your ventilator annually and as required. Please refer to your ventilator instruction manual for cleaning advice.
If you are living in an area with repeated power cuts or if you are used to travelling to places where mains electricity is not available, then you may need to discuss a battery option with your prescriber. There are a number of options available depending on your specific needs.
There are several different types of masks available. Full face masks are most commonly used to cover the nose and mouth if you tend to breathe through your mouth. Full face masks also ensure you get full benefit from the ventilation therapy almost immediately. Other patients prefer a nasal mask option that just covers the nose.
Masks are made of a soft, flexible, cushioned material mounted on a frame with straps that go round the head (head gear). Masks are designed to fit snugly on the face. A good seal and a comfortable fit are essential to prevent leaks. However, a small leak, as long as it is not blowing into your eyes, is acceptable. Your clinician will prescribe the most appropriate mask type for you.
All masks have an exhalation port (usually small holes or a vent) to allow carbon dioxide to escape. This will be highlighted to you on installation.
Do not cover or block these mask holes at any point.
The entire mask should be cleaned before it is first used and then the mask and cushion should be cleaned daily with a damp facecloth to prevent a buildup of grease from facial pores. Always wash your face before using the mask. Every week, remove the cushion or mask shell where possible and clean in warm, soapy water, rinse in clear water and allow to air dry or dry. Never use bleach, chlorine or alcohol cleaners, baby wipes or cleaning lotions with moisturisers as the mask material can degrade. Detach the headgear when washing.
Keep the mask away from direct sunlight and replace it every year.
The mask and tubing you use in hospital may differ from the reusable system you use at home. Never assume you can use a mask you get in hospital with your home tubing as it may mean you have no way of removing carbon dioxide, which can make you feel unwell.
To ensure optimum comfort and suitability, your mask will be selected from an extensive mask range and will be professionally fitted by a member of our fully-trained staff. You will then be shown how to put on and take off your mask correctly to ensure an ongoing good fit. Some masks have quick release clips to make this process easier. They can sometimes feel a little uncomfortable and claustrophobic at first, so it’s important to persevere. The most important thing is that you wear the mask properly and coordinate your breathing with the air pressure of the ventilator machine.
Adjust your mask to try to get rid of any leaks into the eyes. Follow your fitting instructions or call our helpline. Baywater Healthcare will gladly make a follow up visit after installation to assist you in making any adjustments that are required.
Your headgear may be too tight, so try loosening it a little bit. If your mask has a forehead adjuster, move this so that the mask is pushed away from the bridge of your nose. If the problem continues, it could be that you need a different type of mask; call our helpline and we can arrange a visit. If your skin has become reddened or broken, contact your nurse specialist at the hospital for advice.
Tubing and filters
The connection tubing should be washed weekly in warm, soapy water and rinsed thoroughly in clear water. Then hang the tubing over a towel rack/shower to drain and dry completely. Your tubing will be replaced every year or more frequently if it becomes damaged. If you use a humidifier, you may need to clean your tubing more frequently.
There are usually two filters that will need to be changed. The white ultra filter needs to be changed every month or when it is dirty. The grey pollen filter should be washed in warm, soapy water once a week and dried between a towel. Always allow the filter to dry properly before re-installing into your ventilator machine.
Some people can experience a sore nose, throat and mouth dryness and nasal congestion when using ventilation. If this is the case then a humidifier (water chamber) can be added to your BiLevel machine, once prescribed by your consultant.
A humidifier will add some heat and moisture to the air that you breathe and can make the BiLevel therapy more comfortable and tolerable.
After using your humidifier, allow the humidifier hot metal plate to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing the humidifier water chamber from the unit.
A humidifier should be rinsed daily and washed thoroughly once a week. Always use fresh water each night. You may need to use distilled water for your humidifier – please refer to your manufacturer’s humidifier handbook.