Visit to the Midwest Region May 2017

My name is Minna; I’m an occupational therapist in the Assistive Technology Services Team. I cover the Midwest region of Western Australia as part of the Independent Living Centre’s country service. It was great to start the year with a trip to this regional area. On May 2nd we embarked on what was to be a very busy trip. We were joined by Emma McKinley, a speech pathologist from the Independent Living Centre. She joined us due to the large need for information and advice about Augmentative and Alternative Communication, communication strategies and literacy in this area.

Minna and Emma at Cervantes HACC Day CentreOur first stop up the coast with the Independent Living Centre mobile display unit was Cervantes. We met with the people from the HACC Day Centre in Cervantes. There were many questions asked around a range of topics ranging from aides to assist getting in and out of bed, adapted kitchen utensils that assist with meal preparation, equipment funding options and seating such as a high back dining chair, which provide more comfort for back pain.

We then visited Jurien Bay School and then went onwards to Geraldton. The majority of the Independent Living Centre trip to the Midwest was based in Geraldton. It was extremely busy with lots of people wanting to see us! During our time in Geraldton we met with local support organisations. We discussed the Independent Living Centre services and also equipment that was relevant to their staff, clients and families such as ways to modify the home so that it was more accessible, communication apps and equipment to be more independent in daily tasks. We met with occupational therapists at the Day Therapy Unit at Geraldton Health Service to discuss the newest equipment and updates with personal alarm systems. There are new equipment options available such as the mCare SMW16 Soteria Mobile Watch and the Find-Me Tunstall Carers Watch. These watches have a variety of features to keep someone safe in an emergency situation or if the person is experiencing difficulties with their memory such as SOS button, medication reminders and live tracking. We also talked about options that may assist someone living in a rural area without mobile phone network coverage to call for help in an emergency situation.

During this trip Emma and I met with parents, teachers and students in different schools in Geradlton (and also Jurien Bay). We talked to them about technology and strategies that can assist students with communication, access to their environment and literacy. Parents and school staff found this support extremely helpful in being able to see different devices and applications and their use. Emma also saw kids at Geraldton Hospital with their primary speech pathologist and was able to discuss options and equipment recommendations around improving communication and meeting their goals.

Minna at CueIn Geraldton we collaborated with occupational therapists and speech pathologists from Geraldton Hospital to see people in their homes. This process allowed people to try equipment that would not have ordinarily been unavailable to them in this regional area. In the home visits we trialed a range of equipment that increased the individual’s independence at home and in the community. This included equipment for accessing and using a computer such an adapted keyboard and mouse and inbuilt computer features to use it more easily and effectively. Another home visit looked at aides to assist people calling for help in an emergency situation through a personal alarm system or a basic mobile phone such as the KISA Mobile Phone. Other home visits explored equipment to better access their home or the activities in the community through trialing manual and power wheelchairs such as the Companion Travel Folding Powered Wheelchair, Kuschall Compact Wheelchair and the Days Healthcare Swift Lightweight Wheelchair. We had two home visits that looked at aides to increase independence and safety in the kitchen. These home visits were extremely helpful in enabling the person to trial equipment in their own home to see if it would be beneficial in obtaining themselves.

We set up the Independent Living Centre mobile display unit at different locations in the Midwest. Our first caravan set up was at the Queen Elizabeth Community and Seniors Centre in Geraldton, where we were joined by a local equipment supplier, Coral Coast Mobility. This was an extremely busy morning where we saw almost 100 people. People that came to see us included those living in the community, occupational therapists and physiotherapists from Geraldton Hospital and disability support organisations to collaborate and talk to us about assistive equipment and technology.

Minna at her display in CueWe also set up the mobile display unit at the Dongara Markets on May 6th 2017. It was a beautiful sunny day for the markets and lots of local people were out and about. We met with people from the local community and staff from the HACC group and health centre. There were a range of enquiries on different equipment including walking aides such as the Flipstick Portable Rest Seat, big button telephones, electric lift recliner chairs, portable scooters and many more.

Our last stop involved driving inland to Cue. We spent a day set up with the mobile display unit at the Cue Community Resource Centre. People came to see us from surrounding areas. People were interested in finding out about local suppliers that could repair equipment such as scooters. Also staff attended from the Cue Health Centre. We discussed resources and equipment that were based in Geraldton and Perth. This was the end to a very busy trip. We headed back to Perth on May 10th 2017 to give the caravan a good rest before it goes out with Independent Living Centre occupational therapist Simone to the Goldfields.

The next trip to the Midwest will be from August 14th to 18th this year for the Mingenew Expo and surrounding regional areas, keep up with out itineraries here.