A new perspective in Assistive Technology

Kitchen ImageWhen working with people in their homes and in the community we may notice that they are having difficulty with a task, or that their current equipment doesn’t seem to be meeting their needs. There could be a need to consider new assistive technology, but how do we know what would be helpful for them? Where can we look? Who can we refer clients on to?

Even if we do have an idea of the services and products they need, it can be easy to become overwhelmed by the many options available. As someone without a background as a health professional, attending the Fundamentals of Assistive Technology (AT) workshop in March opened my eyes to the challenges that staff and users face on a daily basis, and the incredible technology that has been invented to overcome them.

The Fundamentals of AT is a LifeTec learning and development product, developed and owned by LifeTec, and delivered under license by Independent Living Centre WA in partnership with LifeTec. It is designed for Support Workers and Care Coordinators and other front line staff working in the aged care and disability sector. It aims to expand attendees’ knowledge of the technology that’s available and the ways they can assist their clients in living the life they want. This can include anything from a sock applicator to a fully customised powered wheelchair, ensuring that people can do the things they love as well as the things they need to do in their everyday lives.

Tayla standing beside her mum in her adjustable powered wheelchairSince the Independent Living Centre WA began delivering the workshop earlier this year the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. All attendees said they would recommend the workshop to others and that they had gained useful knowledge and skills from attending.

The presenters themselves played a large part in this, described as fantastic, engaging, knowledgeable and relatable. Their insight and personal stories were also mentioned as being highlights of the workshops, bringing their own experiences with AT to share with the group.

From people who were complete beginners in regards to AT, myself included, to experienced users, everyone who attended left with more knowledge than when they arrived and insight to take with them in their work and everyday life.

As well as finding out what technology is available and what sources there are to find that information, an important part of the workshop was about risks. As the presenters explained, knowing how to use technology can make the difference between solving a problem and making it worse. Even something as simple as a shower stool can be a risk if the user isn’t informed about how to use it. By discussing the risks and including a practical element to the workshop where attendees can interact with a wide variety of items, such as test driving a scooter and identifying the uses of a selection of items, we got a valuable perspective on AT and its uses.

Older woman using a walker exiting her front door which has a rubber threshold ramp for ease of entry and exitingFrom starting the workshop knowing very little about AT and its uses in the real world, to having an understanding of the ways that it can make a difference in people’s everyday lives, and the factors that need to be taken into account when identifying when it may be useful and using it, I certainly feel as though I gained a lot out of the Fundamentals of AT workshop.

Those working in support worker and care roles who attended found it especially helpful to get clarity around when it’s appropriate to have discussions with clients about basic mainstream aids and equipment, and when it’s better to direct somebody to a health professional.

You can find out more about Fundamentals of AT from our website here and register for the May 22nd or July 11st workshops or call Danika on 9381 0600.

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