Intermediate level wheelchair service training

A girl from PNG in her new wheelchair

Intermediate level wheelchair training was recently held in Lae, Papua New Guinea. Ten staff from the National Orthotics and Prosthetics Service (NOPS) the Department of Health and Cheshire Homes Services were joined by two staff from Kiribati’s Tungaru Rehabilitation Service (TRS).

Intermediate level training focuses on the skills needed to provide wheelchairs and cushions to people who need additional postural support to sit upright. This ten day course utilised content from the World Health Organisation draft Wheelchair Service Training Package – Intermediate Level (WSTP-I).  Motivation Australia and our partners have been very privileged to be able to work with this training package ahead of the world launch in South Africa in August.

In order for training participants to test out their new knowledge and skills learned through the theory sessions, 15 wheelchair users and their families attended the practical sessions. They received an appropriate wheelchair, cushion and postural support devices (PSD’s) to enable them to be more comfortable, functional and independent. Many children were provided with their first wheelchair, and immediately started to propel themselves; gaining control over their own mobility for the first time in their life.

Much of the training develops the participants ability to fabricate PSD’s – out of foam, ply wood, plastic, thermoplastic…and learn how the PSD’s interact to provide the best level of support. One of our trainees said: “It’s a surprise to me about what you can do by shaping a wheelchair with PSD’s to support someone’s posture”.

This training is the first step in developing a service that is responsive to the needs of intermediate level wheelchair users and their families. The next few months will see the staff practice with many more users in their own clinical setting. Motivation Australia will conduct a second skills clinic with staff towards the end of the year, where key learning can be reviewed and skills consolidated.

Senior Clinical Coordinator Lauren Flaherty and Design Director Ray Mines led motivation Australia’s training team; and were joined by Melbourne based Technician Jon Reading. Jon volunteered his time to support the technical aspects of wheelchair assembly and fabrication of postural support devices. Having diversity in the training team is beneficial as each team member brings with them their own unique experience, skills and knowledge.