• co-founder Jenni Perkins

Choosing the Right Equipment and Assistive Technology

Updated: Oct 9, 2020

Recently I took my aunt and uncle to visit WA 's Independent Living Centre. Independent Living Centres Australia (ILCA) is a collective network with member ILC's from each Australian state, providing independent, commercially unbiased information.

We were wanting to research the suitability of an electric bed to assist my aunt get in and out of bed independently. We had an hour-long appointment with one of their occupational therapists who showed us their beds on display. It was a most informative and helpful session, whereby my aunt could try out the various beds, and the occupational therapist was able to provide us with some helpful suggestions and observations. We also viewed a range of other aids and equipment which were on display to support independent living.

The assessor we met with gave us a number of useful ideas including utilising an electronic door bell (available from the local hardware store), as a cost effective way of communicating to each other within the house and garden. On a previous occasion I had contacted the ILC for information on chair lifts, and one of their phone consultants provided me with some very helpful information on the types of chair lifts available, and the companies which install them. The ILC display centre is a great place to visit to get an understanding of the vast array of equipment and assistive technology now available to help maintain independence at home.

I learnt about a new program that I hadn’t heard of before, the Goods, Equipment and Assistive Technology (GEAT) service, which is funded through the Commonwealth Home Support Program. It provides access to a range of basic and essential equipment, including dressing aids, shower chairs, sensor mats, walking frames, and personal alarms. Funding of up to $500 per annum is available to assist towards the costs of purchasing, or hiring the required items. Access is via the Commonwealth Government’s My Aged Care (phone 1800 200 422), which can arrange for an assessment and referral to GEAT.

In addition, it is important to remember that if you are in receipt of funding under a Home Care Package, then you can choose to use some of that funding for the purchase, or hire of aids and equipment to help you stay at home. For example, a part of my mother’s Home Care Package went towards her personal alarm and on another occasion, funds were used to help purchase a new bed. Funds can also be used towards home modifications to support safety and independence at home.

Even if you have not been assessed for a Home Care Package, or the Commonwealth Home Support Program, it is still possible to visit the Independent Living Centre and speak with one of their consultants to learn more about what is available to support living independently at home. Technology and new ideas are constantly changing and it is good to have access to the most up to date knowledge on what is available.

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