|Ricardo Mora received a chair from UATP in|
Salt Lake City, through a referral from
Ability 1st. It raises and lowers, which helps him
access the higher-up items in his house.
Monday, July 1, 2019
Independent living center serves more people, thanks to UATP
PROVO—Independent living center staff members know the pattern: receive assistive technology budget money once a year, use it to help as many clients as possible. When it’s gone, it’s gone—and often they run out of money before they run out of budget year.
But Kathy Tucker and Shelly Lund at Ability 1st in Provo have found ways to keep providing mobility devices to people who need them, even after the money runs out. The Utah Assistive Technology Program has played a big part in that strategy.
“Tom’s a lifesaver,” said Kathy, who is the equipment manager at Ability 1st. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be able to help as many people throughout the year.”
Tom coordinates UATP’s Salt Lake City location, which focuses specifically on mobility equipment. His shop receives donated wheelchairs, refurbishes them and transfers them to people who need them for an affordable fee. The cost is usually less than an insurance deductible.
Shelly, the center’s assistive technology coordinator, said they have often used both small grants and equipment from UATP in Salt Lake City to help clients receive a refurbished wheelchair. Sometimes the clients don’t have insurance. Sometimes they do, but they need a loaner chair so that they can get where they need to go while waiting for the necessary medical and insurance approvals—which can take months.
One family had been so tapped out by medical bills that they could not afford the deductible on a new chair for a ten-year-old girl with a chronic illness. They turned to UATP’s small grant program for funding, and to UATP in Salt Lake City for a chair.
“I know the mom was really happy that Tom was able to find a color of the chair that she liked,” Shelly said.
They referred another client, Ricardo Mora, to UATP. Now he has a motorized chair that lifts him so he can reach the cupboards in his kitchen.
Clients have also been able to use devices from the Ability 1st loan bank, thanks to help from UATP. It started years ago, when the independent living center swapped several broken-down chairs for one working, refurbished one. “That’s how we were able to loan out equipment,” said Kathy. “That helped out because sometimes I wouldn’t have power wheelchairs for months.”
People now donate equipment to the center, but sometimes it needs some help to get working properly. Tom has helped with that, too, either parting out wheelchairs that are not usable or talking them through repairing a chair that can still be used. “If there’s a power chair and it’s not running, a lot of time we can call Tom and he can tell us what’s wrong with it,” Kathy said. It helps a lot when they don’t have the budget money to send a chair to a vendor for repairs.
He has helped train them on basic wheelchair repairs as well—and they’ve passed that knowledge on to clients.
“They’ve been really good to partner with,” said Tom from his office in Salt Lake City. “They’re good at helping us follow up with clients in that area and exchanging information.”
They have also donated equipment to UATP in Salt Lake—chairs he can refurbish or part out. “They collaborate with us pretty well.”