My name is Alison and I work as an Occupational Therapist in the Assistive Equipment Services (AES) team at the Independent Living Centre WA (ILC). I cover the Goldfields Region of Western Australia where I travel to towns such as Kalgoorlie, Esperance and Coolgardie to name just a few. 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 that could support them to continue to live independently as well as to trial some of this equipment.
As I am new to Perth this trip gave me the opportunity to travel through Western Australia. I was very excited as I haven’t as yet had the time to travel outside the metropolitan area. This time my trip was focused on Esperance and surrounding areas. I decided to break the Goldfields region into smaller areas to make it easier to understand the needs of the people living in each town and the services they have access to.
On the first day in Esperance, we set up the ILC Caravan outside the Senior Citizens Centre. This is a location that has been visited many times over the years and they were thrilled to see us again this year. I was greeted by a lovely lady Denise, who is the Senior Citizens Centre Coordinator. She gave me lots of invaluable information about Esperance and the people who live there. There was a steady stream of people all day to the caravan who had a range of enquiries about equipment and services. All the people who visited me had a good knowledge of the ILC which was great to hear but were less aware of how to contact us, giving me the chance to go through the many ways that they could do this including the ILC enquiry line, email, Skype and Video Conferencing. Mary and Maureen (pictured) were interested in all of the equipment but for the future! They particularly enjoyed trying the Airgo Duo Rollator – a 4 wheeled walker that converts to a transport chair – and thought it was a great idea (again for the future)!!
I managed to arrange quite a few private appointments before and during my trip. These appointments gave me the opportunity to take equipment from suppliers in the Perth metro area to Esperance, for both Health Professionals and clients to trial in their homes or clinics. Chatting with them, I discovered how difficult it can be to access more specialized equipment when they live in a remote area, this in turn restricting their choices when it comes to equipment prescription. The ILC can support people very successfully with making choices about equipment by ensuring they can trial equipment and also be given advice and information about the equipment by Occupational Therapists. This enables clients the ability to make informed choices about their supports.
I presented to a fantastic group of people at the Masonic Care Retirement Village. I provided them with an overview of the ILC’s services and how easy it is to contact us for advice and information. I also took along some pieces of kitchen equipment and a scooter and rollator for them to see and trial. Many of the attendees were very keen on the small travel scooter and took it for a spin around the hall! A lovely morning was had by all, made even better by the fantastic home baking that was served by the ladies. I even won some home grown garlic in the raffle.
During the trip I had the opportunity to meet with a range of services in Esperance; I presented to the MyTime Group – a lovely group of mums who have children with a disability or chronic medical condition; and the staff from various organisations who support them. This was an opportunity to highlight the Noah’s Ark Toy Library and ILC Tech services, ensuring that they all had up to date information about how to access each service. Everyone was very excited about linking in with Noah’s Ark and took information about their services. I have been invited to come back again on my next trip as they often have new mums and children attending and I look forward to doing so.
I also met with the team of health professionals at Population Health and staff at the Senior High School Education Support Centre who both made me feel very welcome. The Esperance SHS Education Support Centre has a room set up within the school which encourages children to be more independent with day to day living (this includes bed, lounge and kitchen areas including a laundry). Staff were keen that AES are involved in this side of their service and we look forward to helping them to enable all children to take part in activities in these areas. I talked to the staff about the services we offer and made sure they were aware of the Skype and Video Conferencing facilities which they can utilise to access the Assistive Equipment, Tech and Training Services. They also had a chance to get their hands on some new equipment such as the Starfish – a specialist shower commode chair for those who require greater support when showering, Upsee – a walking aid for small children and GOTO Seat – a foldable and portable children’s seat that offers extra support for some children with disabilities. .
To finish the trip I stopped off at Ravensthorpe and set up the caravan for the day. A lovely group of ladies from the Stay on Your Feet Group visited and chatted about some of the equipment in the caravan. While I was there I took the opportunity to visit the local Community Resource Centre and the Hospital; staff were very helpful giving me lots of information about the town and how to best promote the ILC service in the area.
Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to visit Hopetoun on this trip – this will definitely be on my itinerary for 2015. I am visiting the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Show on the 21st and 22nd March which I am very much looking forward to.
Remember you don’t need to wait for me to visit your region to access our services; please use any of the contacts below to talk to a therapist if you would like information about equipment or services for independence and wellbeing. Please also contact us if you would like to arrange an individual appointment or presentation to your group when I next visit your area.