Wednesday, 12 September 2018 19:03

SaskAbilities’ open house in Swift Current celebrates relocation of the special needs equipment program

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Special Needs Equipment Manager Carrie McComber speaks during the grand re-opening of the depot in Swift Current, Sept. 7. Standing next to her is SaskAbilities Regional Director Kimi Duzan. Special Needs Equipment Manager Carrie McComber speaks during the grand re-opening of the depot in Swift Current, Sept. 7. Standing next to her is SaskAbilities Regional Director Kimi Duzan.

The SaskAbilities Swift Current branch held an open house on Sept. 7 that also celebrated the grand re-opening of the special needs equipment program.


The special needs equipment depot in Swift Current was previously located in another building a few streets away, but it has moved and it is now situated within the SaskAbilities branch office at 1551 North Railway Street West.
Carrie McComber, the provincial special needs equipment manager, attended the grand re-opening event.
“We are so pleased to be doing our grand re-opening here at SaskAbilities,” she told the Prairie Post afterwards. “SaskAbilities has operated the program  since 1987 and we've been off in our own independent location since then. This year we had the opportunity to move into the main branch here, and it's been wonderful ever since.”
The move took place during May and the program has been operating from its new location at the Swift Current branch office since June.
“This location here in Swift Current is well known in the community and just being able to bring all the services together that we offer is a huge advantage to all of us,” she said. “People may be coming to the centre anyway for other programming and it's just more convenient to pick up your parking permit or to pick up the walker for grandma or those kind of things all in one place.”
The program's new space is similar in size to the office space they previously used, but the relocation  was a good opportunity to implement various improvements.
“This space has given us the opportunity to just lay it out better and to have a better design and flow of the work activities that we do,” she said. “We were able to build an excellent wash bay facility for cleaning and recycling of our product, we were able to build a wonderful reception area, and it's bright and open and less cluttered. A move always does that for an organization. You're able to clean out some things that you may not need. So it's been so good for all of us.”
The special needs equipment program in Swift Current employs two people. Provincially the program employs 28 individuals. The Swift Current depot is one of five in the province. The other special needs equipment depots are located in Prince Albert, Saskatoon, Regina and Yorkton.
The program have a variety of mobility and environmental equipment available for loan, for example wheelchairs, walkers, hospital beds and commodes. The repair and maintenance services are free of charge for loaned equipment.
“We are proud that we do 35,000 pieces of equipment across the province each year, and then they're able to use that equipment for as long as they need it,” she mentioned. “When they're done with it, they return it to us. Every year we also have 30,000 pieces returned to us. So we're dealing with a lot of equipment across the province.”
This free equipment loan program is funded by the Ministry of Health and is available to provincial residents with a valid Saskatchewan Health Services card.
“They can be provided to you free of charge for as long as you need them,” she said. “What you need to do is to get in touch with an occupational therapist, who will assess your needs, and then can requisition that equipment through our program and we will get that equipment to you.”
The special needs equipment depots also administer the accessible parking program for individuals with mobility challenges on behalf of SGI.
“We have a relationship with SGI where we administer the accessible parking program, which is access to the blue parking permits,” she said. “Clients can apply for that permit, which enables them to park in those designated parking slots.”
According to SaskAbilities Regional Director Kimi Duzan the relocation of the special needs equipment program to the Swift Current branch building was not possible before.
“Until recently there wasn't the space available,” she noted. “As our services become more community based, the space became available here in the main building in the branch. We have the room, we had the desire to bring that together and it has worked out really well to renovate it and bring a bright, public space available to the community to access the equipment.”
For SaskAbilities the consolidation of services at a single location will have various benefits, both for the community and the organization.
“Certainly having special needs equipment moves into this main building really strengthens the location and hopefully the ease and convenience of people finding it in one location,” she said. “I think there is, beyond the element of convenience for the community, an efficiency because we have the building, we have the space, and how can we better use what we have in one location to be more efficient.”
The grand re-opening of the special needs equipment program was part of an open house at the SaskAbilities branch in Swift Current to give members of the community an opportunity to tour the building and to learn more about the organization's activities and programs. The event took place during SaskAbilities Awareness Week in the city.
“We find year round, day after day, this community is supportive and welcome to all people,” Duzan said. “We set aside a week to take it a notch higher and really to recognize our community partners, to celebrate who we are at SaskAbilities – people of all abilities that have so much to contribute to community and community that is welcome and inclusive. So it's been a great week. It's been positive, it's been upbeat, and you can see in our events, they grow every year.”
The SaskAbilities day program is currently serving 50 individuals and visitors to the open house were able to learn more about their activities and interests.
“All of us have our own unique interests and abilities and we certainly find the people that we serve too have their own unique interests and abilities,” she said. “So awareness week is an opportunity for them to share their stories. Today we had a few individuals share their stories. It may be their experience at Camp Easter Seal, it might be the pride they have to volunteer at The Meadows and help seniors get to some of the activities, the pride to travel independently on the bus. So really our mission as an organization is very much about enhancing the lives of people experiencing disability. The successes are best told by the stories of the individuals and the clients and their families, and we're very proud to facilitate them sharing that.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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