Janet says she must have been one of TAD’s earliest clients. She first heard about TAD when she was living in a hostel many years ago, and TAD founder George Winston spread the word that the new service was available.
Previously, Janet says, the hostel had relied on “clever handymen” to help their clients. Of course, many Custom Designed Aids Service volunteers would fall into this category, but TAD provides a huge advantage in the wide range of technical expertise it can call on and the professional oversight of every device that is made.
Because Janet has rheumatoid arthritis, her movements and strength are very limited. She says she is a good example of how TAD’s services have helped someone adapt to changing circumstances over a period of time.
Janet first contacted TAD because she wanted to be more independent in getting out of bed. A past volunteer made her a pair of bars which were initially attached to the wall next to her bed.
These fold up and down, which keeps them out of the way when not in use, and also swivel through a 90° angle from facing the bed to parallel to it. From a position on the side of the bed, Janet was able to grasp the rails, move to an upright position leaning on the rails, and then swivel gradually around and into her wheelchair.
When Janet later moved to private accommodation, the bars were moved so that they are attached to the bed itself. However over time her shoulders got weaker and it became harder for her to get into the right position on the side of the bed.
Another volunteer made an air bag system which involved putting a bag under the mattress and blowing it up using a vacuum cleaner. This raised and tilted the mattress, which made it easier for Janet to slide across to the side of the bed and then use the bars as before.
More recently Janet found that this system no longer worked for her. She contacted TAD again to get advice on what other options might be available to her, and was visited by CDA Manager Winsome Baker and Engineering Services Manager Keith Olds.
Winsome and Keith suggested a range of options, including modifying the existing bars, using a sheepskin slider with a powered winch to drag the sheet from the bed to the chair, and using a travelling overhead hoist.
For the last couple of years Janet has been using the sheepskin, with the assistance of a carer rather than a winch. However, after another visit from Keith and Winsome together with a hoist manufacturer, she has decided to get a hoist. When this arrives, TAD will help her in selecting a suitable sling and will probably also lower the bed.
In the meantime, Janet’s partner Reg, who also has a disability, is still using the original bars to help him get out of bed. When the bed is altered to suit the hoist, TAD will replace the existing bars with a smaller unit, so that Reg can go on using them but there will be better access for a carer to assist Janet’s transfers.
Another device which has been a great help to Janet is a support rail in her shower. She is able to stand up to shower and initially used the wall for support, but over time this became more difficult and she did not feel safe any more.
Another volunteer made her a rail which goes around the outer side of the shower. Although not weight-bearing, this provides her with something to lean on to keep her balance and to some extent holds her in place. And as with the bars, the rail folds up and out of the way when not in use.
Janet says the support of TAD in terms of providing and maintaining these devices has “kept the situation viable” over 20 years. “All these adaptions have helped to keep me functioning and have been a great help, well not a help, a necessity! Having a right to direct referral is also very helpful,” she said.
“The personalised services of TAD are unique and unrivalled in effective outcomes to my knowledge,” Janet went on. “All the volunteers have been absolutely marvellous. They take the time and make the effort, they accept what you want and do their best to bring it to reality.”