Collaborating to Improve Availability of Rehabilitative Equipment to Those in Need
The Foundation for Rehab Equipment and Endowment, Goodwill Industries and Virginia Assistive Technology Systems (VATS) joined forces this spring to help bridge the gap between Virginia's rehabilitation equipment providers and the underserved people who need the equipment.
The three organizations spearheaded a Collaborative Forum, which was held at the University of Virginia and sponsored by VATS and Radford University. The forum's aim was to seek persons interested in a statewide collaboration to recycle equipment.
Speakers included Virginia Secretary of Health and Human Resources, Jane Woods, Virginia Commissioner of the Department of Rehabilitation Services Jim Rothrock, and Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Special Education and Rehabilitative Administration John Hagar. Representatives from VATS, Goodwill and FREE also took the podium to raise awareness about for making rehab equipment more available to those in need. Attendees included community leaders from across the state representing health care services, durable medical equipment providers, non-profit agencies and civic groups.
FREE formed in Roanoke, VA six years ago has assisted over 500 adults living with disabilities in the Commonwealth. FREE's services supported in part by the Commonwealth Neurotrauma Initiative Trust Fund since 2003. FREE's goal is to provide statewide service. Collaboration is the key to meeting this goal.
Beginning April 1, 2005, FREE and Goodwill of the Valleys have joined forces to create a centralized location for equipment donation and distribution. This collaboration has been established to help people with disabilities become more independent through gifts of rehabilitative equipment. This effort serves under-served adults to whom equipment is not otherwise available. This joint effort is being accomplished through the following steps:
- Securing donations of rehabilitative equipment from the community.
- Recycling this equipment through appropriate sanitization, inspection and repairing.
- Training Goodwill consumers with the job skills needed for effective sanitation and successful work.
- Increasing the accessibility of persons living with disabilities in our community.
This collaborative effort reinforces the strength of each group. The following complimentary roles have been established.
- A centralized donation center for the community
- storage space
- cleaning equipment items
- generating positive publicity and public relations
- Already established referral system
- Qualifying of applicants
- Selection of appropriate recipients
- Matching the recipients with the most appropriate piece of equipment
- Repairing equipment
- Distributes equipment
- Outcome data summaries of clients served
Goodwill of the Valleys and the FREE Foundation are monitoring this collaboration as a pilot through December 2005. During this period evaluations and performance improvements will occur in order to recommend this collaborative effort for replication.
Current Service Outcomes
In 2004, of those served the following data was gathered during a follow-up survey 30 days after equipment was gifted to recipients.
- 98% had Greater Independence
- 83% decrease in Falls
- 95% decrease in ER visits
- 94% decrease in Hospitalizations
- 98.5% were able to remain safely at home
For more information, call FREE at 540-777-4929.