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Equipment and Technology
#18 (In Topic #17)
Site director

admin2 in the usergroup ‘Administrators’

Equipment and technology

There is a lot available and it gets better all the time.  I can only speak for the technology that we used but much of the equipment was absolutely essential and a significant proportion was supplied without charge to us by either the NHS or Sheffield Community Equipment and Loan Service (SCELS).  However, it is definitely the combination of the best personal support and equipment and technology in combination that allowed Christine to continue to work and to enjoy her social life.

Hoists - Over the last five years or so we have used two hoists, a tracking ceiling hoist which we paid for, but we actually made even more use of the manual hoist and slings provided by SCELS.  As Christine's mobility decreased we managed (to the point where it became dangerous) to use a standing transfer to get Christine into a chair or onto a bed.  It would have been safer for both of us if we had known about hoists earlier, but that's one of the problems of becoming progressively disabled - by and large everybody does it on their own.  At the time we were going through this it seemed very hard to find someone with similar experience who could advise.  Maybe it's better now.  There are certainly more organisations of disabled people, so I hope so.

Using a hoist took away the risk and was much safer and more comfortable for Christine, myself, and her PAs.  We used the manual hoist a lot - transferring from wheelchair to a reclining chair in the lounge, reclining chair to bedroom at the end of an evening, bedroom to bathroom and back in the morning.  Although it was quite heavy, the manual hoist was portable so we could take it to hotels etc which didn't have their own hoists (which applies to most hotels!).  Again essential for Christine to maintain her professional life.

Shower chair - while Christine could still cope with showers we used a tilt in space shower chair supplied by SCELS.

Bed - Christine had a fairly sophisticated electrically operated profiling nursing bed.  We did have to pay for this, but friends of ours were supplied free of charge by SCELS with a perfectly serviceable profiling hospital bed.  As well as profiling, the bed could be raised vertically so that it was easier and safer for PAs to get Christine dressed or undressed.  As Christine didn't move at all she needed a pressure relieving mattress which was supplied and maintained by SCELS.  A combination of the right equipment and a rigorous personal care regime meant that Christine never suffered from pressure sores.

Environmental controls - ensuring that Christine could continue to do things for herself (rather than people doing them for her) was an ever-increasing challenge.  When her hands no longer moved and she could no longer drive her power chair we did try chin controls but the degree of head movement left to her was insufficient for this to be practical.

However, environmental controls supplied through the NHS did allow her to continue to control many everyday items around the home throughout her life.  The controls were operated by Christine through a single switch, which in her case was on a ribbon around her neck as her head and chin was the only part of her body that retained even fractional movement.  Clicking the switch started the controller scanning through a menu of options which Christine could both see and hear.  Clicking the switch again selected an option and then a submenu.  So for instance, Christine could select 'TV', turn the TV on or off, select channels, change the volume etc.  She could switch lights on and off, use an intercom and controls to open the front door, select menus on a special phone so that she could dial out as well as answer calls, operate audible alarms around the house to call one of us etc etc.  A second menu operated equipment in the bedroom, including changing the angle of her body on the profiling bed.  Virtually any piece of equipment that can be operated electronically can be controlled by this equipment, and menus and options can be changed as needs change.

Sometimes things which were really cheap and simple proved to be better than expensive alternatives.  We tried various reclining chairs, electrically operated and otherwise for Christine to sit in when she was relaxing and as a relief from the wheelchair.  Eventually we found a really cheap canvas garden chair which happened to be just the right shape and with a very simple pressure relieving air mattress continued to serve Christine's needs for many years.  We could even fold it up and take it to hotels when Christine could no longer sleep on a bed which did not profile!

Cost to ourselves

Ceiling hoist - £1,200
Profiling bed - £1,500
Bath with seat - £2,000
All other equipment and environmental controls - nil
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Nice post.amazing a staff of ssc described topic is very much useful for me.i like to share this informations are others.i hope you include more post.thank you for sharing this post.
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