I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to visit the Goldfields region as part of my role at the Independent Living Centre. My name is Alison and I am one of the Occupational Therapists who works within the Assistive Equipment Team, providing a service to 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.
Before Christmas I had a very successful trip to Esperance and surrounding towns, and hoped I could replicate this success in Kalgoorlie. This trip lasted 12 days; and allowed me time to access the smaller towns out of Kalgoorlie and also the local shows and fairs on at the time.
On the first two days we set up the ILC Caravan at Coolgardie and Kambalda. Even though Coolgardie is a quiet town we still received general enquiries about our services. Kambalda was a busier day where we set up outside the fantastic Community Recreation Facility. We were very well supported by Val Whittaker, who is the Kambalda Community Resource Centre Officer. Again people visited to chat about personal alarms systems and walking aids and to have a look at the all the equipment within the caravan. They found the information very informative and each took details about where to source the particular kinds of equipment.
We set up the caravan at the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Fair over the Saturday and Sunday. It was 40 degrees all day on the Saturday which meant the fair was quieter than usual though we still had lots of interest in the ILC stand. People were attracted to the little Sorg Mio – a funky kid’s wheelchair with Lego spoke guards and light up castors. As always, everyone loved the table display with all the pieces of smaller equipment like the Handybar – a handle to assist transfers in and out of the car. It was great to meet fellow health professionals who work in Kalgoorlie to get an insight into the challenges they face working in a rural area. In particular we met Jess who is an OT and Roxanne, her student. Gray Hardy from the local DSC also dropped by to say hello. John, who is a frequent visitor to the ILC stand, visited us on the second day. It was lovely to see how he has improved in the last year.
At the start of the following week we stopped in at Menzies Community Resource Centre on the way to Leonora, where we met Bev, the centre coordinator. We left some ILC brochures and information for her to share with the community.
Leonora was a great little town, where we met lots of fantastic people, who were so enthusiastic about the ILC coming to town. We set up the caravan and spoke with lots of people about all sorts of enquires including personal alarms systems such as the LOLA, a system that can be used outdoors which has many features including GPS and GEO Fencing and the Airgo Fusion, a four wheeled walker that can be converted to a wheelchair. During the day I popped into the Leonora Information Centre and Library and completed an impromptu presentation with a local group of seniors. This was a great opportunity to ensure they had all the information about the ILC and to chat about their lives, living in such a remote location. Thanks to Jim Epis, CEO at the Shire of Leonora and Margo Epis at the Information Centre for arranging such a fab day.
Over the next few days I managed to complete a number of private appointments in Kalgoorlie, trialing pieces of equipment such as the Pathrider scooter and a specialist back rest for a man with a recent spinal injury. I met with lots of the local Health Professionals both at the hospital and in the community and they were very keen to forge links with the ILC, to ensure their clients benefited form our services.
I had the opportunity to speak with a lovely group at the Amana Living, Edward Collick Home. Many thanks to Anne for arranging the presentation. I met a really interactive group of seniors and staff, who found great joy in trying to guess the piece of equipment, such as tap turners. We looked and discussed a large selection of equipment and many of the group requested further information to be sent to them about equipment such as long handled brushes and sock aids.
Towards the end of the trip we set up the caravan at Merredin Show. This is part of the Wheatbelt region; however as I was returning from Kalgoorlie it made sense for me to visit the Show. We had a very eventful journey from Kalgoorlie to Merredin so were very happy to arrive at the Showgrounds in one piece. We had a busy day at the Show, lots of enquiries about the ILC as a whole a variety of visitors, both young and old. This was a great event to complete my trip and we hope to return next year.
Although this was a long trip, it was a fantastic opportunity for me to meet the people who live and work in the Goldfields and listen to their views and concerns about access to disability services. I have lot of new contacts in the area which will ensure that my next trip can be planned with their help, thus ensuring the needs of the community are met.