Travel is wonderful but often the greatest struggle facing people with additional needs is finding ways to navigate through day-to-day routines. Finding the right equipment can make life more comfortable and enjoyable and that’s why I thought I’d share a few of my equipment discoveries from the ATSA Independent Living Expo 2015 plus the details for this year’s exhibition.
ATSA 2017 – 10-11 MAY – SYDNEY OLYMPIC PARK
If you’ve attended ATSA in previous years, please note ATSA has a new home this year. ATSA is being held at a bigger venue and is at the very accessible Sydney Olympic Park. Here are a few tips to help you plan your visit.
- Pre-register via http://atsaindependentlivingexpo.com.au – this ensures you won’t have to queue up when arriving.
- The Conference program contains some great sessions for people with a disability, families and disability workers but you must register for selected sessions as they fill up fast.
- This will be the largest Expo with a huge range of products & services on display.
- The Expo is NOT a sales event – its all about information & education.
- New venue at Sydney Olympic Park – please don’t go to Rosehill Gardens!!!
- Some accessible parking on the street right outside the venue, parking station nearby (about 6 minutes wheeling time and it’s level), train station is also accessible and there is a drop off point for arriving by taxi.
- The Expo is also on in Brisbane on 24th May.
Below you’ll find some of the items which took my eye at the last expo.
The Sundancer is described as “your go anywhere, do anything, freedom machine.” I’d say it puts the cool in mobility.
I was keen to see the Sundancer in action. I had a sneak peek before it was completed and I was curious to see the final product. It works much like a segway in that your body’s movement is required to drive it.
The seat is height and angle adjustable, the backrest is adjustable and folds.
It weighs about 60kg so would require a ramp to put it into the back of a car.
It can travel 10kms per hour.
Recharging the battery takes 2-4 hours and can be done at any standard electrical outlet.
For more information and all the technical details head to dejay medical.
Malcolm from Seating Dynamics gave me a demo of his Smart Drive power assist. It is truly fantastic to see how one push can take someone so far. I also received a message from Colin and Lovely (pictured far right) saying how power assist is a “great asset” when going uphill. Power assist is designed to minimise effort and reduce shoulder injuries. The latest model has an intelligent wrist control which is described as “Smart and fashionable, the new intelligent wrist control senses your movements and knows when you’re ready to stop, and when you’re ready to get moving.” From what I saw in the demo it is extremely smart. Malcolm also mentioned that he can manage to lift and attach the Smart Drive without assistance which is an obvious advantage.
For more information head to Seating Dynamics.
STAY PUT SEAT BELT SYSTEM
We saw this Stay Put Seat Belt System at the Possable Ideas Expo on the weekend and I’ve never seen anything like it. It is a seat belt locking system for anyone that needs a seat belt that cannot be operated by the passenger (ie someone that likes escaping their seat belt). The seat belt is operated by the driver and locks into place when the vehicle is moving. When the vehicle stops or in the event of an accident the seat belt unlocks automatically and can be operated in the usual manner. This would benefit those that have safety concerns over someone removing their seat belt while the car is in motion.
For more information head to Freedom Motors.
THE SPECIAL TOMATO
Given that BJ is older now and lots of equipment has come out that we haven’t heard of, or experienced, I was a little curious when some of our facebook friends were referring to taking their tomato with them when going out.
The tomato comes in a variety of seating options, booster seats etc but I thought their toilet seat cushion was of particular interest for those toilet training kids still needing a bit of extra support. It comes in two different sizes, five different colours (I love a choice of colour!) and with a plastic lined travel carry bag. Toilet training is hard at the best of times but add in seating requirements for a child with special needs and it adds a whole new level of difficulty.
For more information and all the technical details head to dejay medical.
THE PANDA FUTURA SEAT
R82 had a few products which caught my eye. One of my favourites is the Panda Futura seat. It reminded me of a great chair BJ had when he was younger (the Mitico). BJ’s chair was perfect for school and home.
I love the support the Panda Futura seat offers, the variety of inclusions, the fact it is height adjustable and the fact it flexes with a child who pushes back in their seat. Being well supported and seated properly has a huge impact on outcomes.
For more information on the Panda head to R82
THE HERON SHOWER AND TOILET SYSTEM
The Heron is a shower and toilet system designed for those that outgrow the Flamingo. It is height adjustable, tilts and comes with lockable casters. Maximum weight is 100kgs. There are a myriad of optional extras to give extra support if needed.
For more information about the Heron head to R82’s website.
JENNSWING AND WHEELCHAIR CUBBY HOUSE
Special needs play equipment have a range of outdoor play equipment suitable for infants, children and even teens with a disability. The equipment is more supportive and will take a heavier weight range. It isn’t cheap but I see these items as perfect for family to combine together to give as a gift or possibly as a Starlight wish item.
The Jennswing is popping up in many inclusive playgrounds around Australia. It is great for older kids who need more support.
It comes with a harness making it a secure swing for a child needing extra support.
There is an infant swing and a larger adult basket chair as well.
The “All Wheels” wheelchair cubby house appealed to me because it has level entry, wide doorway and is spacious inside. Our kids loved our cubby house but it certainly wasn’t wheelchair accessible.
This company have many other items but the ones mentioned above were the items that took my fancy. For more information and costs please contact Special Needs Play Equipment.
A gorgeous Occupational Therapist who fitted BJ for one of his chairs was at the expo with SPIO. SPIO “is a flexible bracing system that provides support and feedback through deep pressure.” The suit is designed to “increase core stability, improve balance, improve muscle control and tone, improve respiratory mechanics, decrease response latency and reduce involuntary movements and stimming.”
MOGO’S BOX BEACH WHEELCHAIR
There are lots of beach wheelchairs on the market which are fantastic but they are missing one thing – the ability to self-propel. Not all wheelchair users like or need someone to push them along the beach so Mogo Wheelchairs have designed a beach wheelchair made to self-propel.
For further enquiries head to Mogo Wheelchair’s website.
ONE TOUCH JAR OPENER AND UCCELLO KETTLE
Country Care Group have a range of products to allow independence for those with limited hand function. Having had relatives that struggled in older age with opening jars and cans I was particularly keen to see the one touch can opener and jar opener in action. Once placed on top of the jar or can it only requires a push of one large button and then the opener does the rest automatically turning off once it has completed the job. They are battery operated so that seems to be the only downside but rechargeable batteries may be a cost effective solution.
The Uccello Kettle allows a user to simply tilt the kettle forward to pour hot water meaning that there is no heavy lifting. The person demonstrating suggested filling the kettle with a bottle of water as it is lighter.
These are small items but anything that improves independence is worth sharing.
For more information head to the Country Care Group website.
I love these reusable drink covers that fit “virtually any glass, mug, cup or can.” It is great to have the flexibility to use whatever glassware is available when you are out at a cafe, restaurant or friend’s house but with the added safety of a cover. They are 100% BPA free, dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe and available in 6 standard colours and countless custom colours! For more information head to Safe-Sip.
We are yet to find the ideal solution to a travel commode but I thought this may be of interest to some people who don’t have high support needs. It is the Delta T14 folding commode and has height adjustable legs, doesn’t require tools for assembly, has a weight capacity of 115kg and has slip resistant rubber feet. If you would like more information head to Max Mobility
These ramps are made from recycled tyres. I liked the appearance of these because they look less clinical than a metal ramp and would provide a great non-slip surface. The downside is they are quite heavy but if they were a permanent fixture for a doorway that wouldn’t be a problem.
The other product of theirs which I liked was a threshold for the shower to stop the water in a roll-in shower from spreading throughout the bathroom. It is a border which can be put around the edge of the shower area. It is a practical solution but I will admit not the prettiest I have seen.
When they are new they do have a strong rubber smell but judging by our soft fall pavers in our courtyard which are made of recycled tyre that eventually disappears. We chose the rubber pavers because we thought they would be softer for BJ if he fell and would be a warmer surface to sit on than ordinary pavers.
For more information head to the Tyrex website.
PACIFIC SHOWER BATHING TROLLEY
BJ loves his bath and we are fortunate that he can step in and out of a bath. This isn’t possible for many people and for that reason I loved the idea of this bath which a person can transfer on to and once in the sides go up. It is hard to show in still photos but if you look at the level of the balls in the first photo compared to the one on the far right you should get the idea.
For more information and to watch a video of it in use, head to Howard Wright.
GETTING AROUND WITH TWO CHILDREN
One of the more challenging times for us was when AJ was born and I had two children needing transportation when I went out or shopping. BJ was 7 years old when AJ was born so this would not have been a solution for our family but for children with a smaller age gap the sibling seat on the Verve may help. The Discover Verve folds easily, the seat at the front is supportive for a child with a disability with many additions available. The main seat is removable and can be combined with other equipment including a high/low chair and rocker. The brochure says, “one seat, many applications.”
For more information regarding the Shuttle Discovery head to the Medifab website.
There are so many stories of a piece of equipment or design coming about through necessity or someone seeing a relative in need. This bike design came about when the designer’s relative had a stroke. I love the seating on this bike as it is so supportive but the design is still stylish.
For more information about these bikes you can email email@example.com
A few additions to a wheelchair can assist a wheelchair user to be more independent and comfortable. A drink holder, device holder and storage all make independence easier. At the expo I saw the RAM Level Cup Holder which is adjustable to the width of the wheelchair arm and ensures the drink stays upright and never spills. I also liked the look of the Ram X – Grip Holder to keep phone and devices secured but within easy reach.
For more information head to the Lindus Rehabilitation website.
BUYING AND SELLING MOBILITY EQUIPMENT
Many of our facebook community have mentioned they have items they are trying to sell. At the expo I found a free, Australia-wide classifieds website available to the public. Head to www.reusability.com.au
GETTING ASSISTANCE/CARE WITH CHOICE
I don’t want just anyone helping BJ with his care or assisting him in the community. I am really fussy and want a person that will suit his personality and enjoy his company while assisting him. So far we have only used flexible respite services with people we know but in time that will no doubt change out of necessity.
I really like the idea of Hire Up which is an “online self-management platform enabling people with disabilities to find, employ and manage their own support workers.” This service saves individuals lots of money that would normally go towards administration fees and pays workers more.
For more information head to Hire Up.
As I said at the start of this blog, this is just a round-up of a few items that caught my eye at the expo. I hope some of the ideas prove helpful or at least thought provoking.
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