St. Catharines residents Tony, Vicki and Justin received new wheelchairs from Niagara Wheelchairs and Seating last week.
Our St. Catharines Supported Independent Living Program team started the ball rolling by contacting Niagara Wheelchairs and Seating, as all three individuals were eligible for new wheelchairs through Ontario’s Assistive Devices Program.
Intervenor services coordinator Ala Benish said due to changes in Tony’s and Vicki’s mobility, they were in “dire” need of new wheelchairs.
Sheri Williams of Niagara Wheelchairs and Seating and occupational therapist Bev Denton came to the house to interview the intervenors and Ala about what was and wasn’t working with the current wheelchairs. They assessed each individual’s seating and posture, and ensured all the needs would be met with the new wheelchairs.
Ala said Tony has very unique needs due to his short stature, hip issues and poor circulation. His physiotherapist has advised to keep Tony’s feet elevated when possible.
“They came up with so many unique features and solutions to Tony’s unique needs,” said Ala, giving credit to Sheri and Bev.
“In his old wheelchair, his feet couldn’t reach his foot rests so we often went without them and we used an ottoman or step stool to keep his feet elevated,” Ala said.
Sheri had the idea to install amputee boards to the wheelchair, which easily slide out from underneath his seat cushion, and added removable cushions which are kept in place with Velcro underneath.
“Tony’s wheelchair in particular has made a significant positive impact on his life,” Ala said, explaining his intervenors are now able to shift his weight around throughout the day with the tilt function of the wheelchair, and keep him comfortable by keeping his legs elevated.
“He even has a table top so that he can enjoy outings with increased independence such as picnics in the warmer weather,” Ala added.
For Vicki, the team asked for lots of padding in the new wheelchair to ensure her safety. They believed her old wheelchair was causing Vicki anxiety because it was not well-fitted for her any longer.
“Her new wheelchair also tilts which is great for longer outings so that we can reposition her throughout the day,” Ala said.
“Justin only uses his wheelchair for long distances so we encourage him to push it and when he gets tired he can sit,” Ala said. “Since he enjoys pushing it they made sure to make it light enough so it’s not too heavy and lighter for the staff to lift into the MV1 Sensity van.”
Ala noted that Justin’s posture has improved with his new chair.
The St. Catharines team expressed how impressed they are with the wheelchairs, the service and the follow-up. Bev was able to come and provide training to the team on how to use the new wheelchairs.
When the wheelchairs were delivered, Sheri, Bev, and Niagara Wheelchairs staff member Ken Elzinga (nicknamed "Mr. Fix It Guy") were all on hand to assess Tony, Justin and Vicki’s posture and their unique needs, and make any needed adjustments to their new wheelchairs.