Visit to South West Region April 2015

Amanda Hudson sitting in front of a brick wallMy name is Amanda and I am one of the Occupational Therapists who works within the Assistive Equipment Services team, providing a service to regional and rural areas of WA.

Our country services ensure that people who live and work outside the metropolitan area have the opportunity to talk to an Occupational Therapist about equipment and resources that could support them to continue to live independently, as well as to trial some of this equipment.

I stepped into someone else’s shoes for this trip as I usually cover the Great Southern Region, so I was quite excited to be able to visit this area for the first time and although it was only a short trip it was very busy!

When we travel we often have a caravan set up with lots of equipment. The caravan almost always creates interest in itself usually from the men who want to know all about the air suspension that lowers the van to the ground for accessibility!

Our first port of call was to set up the van at the Balingup Small Field Farm Day. We had great weather and the show looked like it was great success I understand the show has been going for around 25 years.

I was asked to do my first ever radio interview with Cliff and Dougie from Radiowest South West which was a great experience for me but also great to get the word out about what the independent Living Centre WA is all about.

ILC OT Amanda standing next to Josephine who is sitting on a Monarch Tesla scooter at the Balingup Small Farm Field DayWe met lots of lovely people who stopped by for a chat about equipment that might help them to stay independent; Josephine (pictured on the Monarch Tesla scooter) was looking to update a very old scooter. She was great fun and although our scooter was too large for her she was more than happy to try it out and was pleased to see that this one had a handbrake. We had a long discussion about the canopies that offer protection from the elements and how effective she felt they were, or rather not!

The Airgo fusion seat walker that turns into a wheelchair proved a big hit with lots of people. The seat walker is an ideal piece of equipment for people who want to stay on their feet but may get fatigued at times and need someone to push them. The fusion eliminates the need for two pieces of equipment. The lovely new Uccello kettle was a great talking point with many people impressed with the not only the look of the kettle but also its function. This lightweight kettle has a non weight bearing tilt and pour action eliminating the need for someone to lift kettle.

Scarecrow all dressed up beside a country storeI have to mention that Karl and Debbie at Oakfield B&B in Balingup made us so welcome .Their home is amazing and I was very excited to witness the arrival of their first chooks from the field day. Can’t wait to return to check out the eggs! The scarecrows in Balingup are also amazing. I think a successful day was had by all and the next morning we set off to Manjimup for The Wellness and Lifestyle Expo.

Lee Wedrat from HACC services (who had organized the event) was at the expo to meet us. The van was set up outside but the rest of the exhibitors and services were inside the sports pavilion. I think we were in the perfect spot as everybody had to pass us to enter and exit the expo. People attended from as far away as Walpole. A group of ladies from Bridgetown who attended with the staff from Silver Chain, kept us busy with lots of enquiries about emergency alerts, user friendly telephones, mobility aids and personal care items. A common enquiry on the day was from people having difficulty getting into and out of a car so we were able to show them the Handybar. The handybar is a vehicle transfer support handle that fits into an existing fitting on a vehicle. Once again the ladies loved the Uccello Kettle and nobody asked about the air Group of older ladies standing and sitting together at the Wellness and Lifestle Expo at Manjimupsuspension on our caravan! It was great to meet Ann who works for Advocare and who also travels throughout the region as part of her role. She often refers people through to our service as do we hers.

I would like to say a big thank you to Lee from HACC who did a great job and worked incredibly hard organising the event.  So after another successful day we headed off for Nannup.

Nannup was so cute and pretty! The Riverwood Retreat B&B was great I felt like royalty when the china teapot came out for breakfast and the setting was beautiful, however no time to enjoy the stay as we needed to get ready for the morning at the shire offices.

For a small town we were kept very busy. We set up the caravan outside the shire offices. I was almost late to start the presentation organized by Cecilia in the meeting room. Laurence (our technician /driver) held the fort while I spoke with the group of seniors. Now anyone that knows me might know that I have problems setting up technology and that morning was no different so the PowerPoint went out of the window (not literally) and I presented freestyle. We had a great discussion about emergency alerts and the different systems that are now available including the Mobile alert options and the Lola. We also discussed some simple home modifications including grab rails and access ramps. We talked about the issues regarding access to services but it appears this little town has a great community spirit and is very resourceful.

Laurence met with Rita, a local lady from Nannup. She wanted to know if there was a device that could help her when she is pulling her chickenfeed around her farm! This just goes to show it’s not always about complex problems and technology!

After a busy morning it was time to say goodbye to this pretty region of WA and head back to Perth. It was a good trip and the opportunity to be out meeting local people and listening to their concerns and stories is an amazing part of my role.

Thanks to Bec (our usual South West OT) for giving me the opportunity to visit your area it was beautiful.