Children’s wheelchair clinic in the Solomon Islands

Three personnel work on a wheelchair in a clients home. One is measuring a cushion to cut, two are checking the nuts and bolts!

Motivation Australia (MA) personnel have been involved in supporting wheelchair service provision in the Solomon Islands for many years. Last month MA trainers were pleased to return and continue to build on the capacity of personnel from the Rehabilitation Division to provide intermediate level wheelchairs in Honiara, Guadalcanal province and Malaita province. The team facilitated a week-long children’s wheelchair clinic which included home visits for follow up appointments and clinic-based appointments for new assessments, prescriptions and fitting of wheelchairs.

Intermediate level wheelchairs are suitable for children and adults who require additional postural support to sit upright.

Five people stand under a large tree in the Solomon Islands. Two Solomon Island men, one Solomon Island woman and two Australians. They are standing in a team photo, and smiling.
John, Lauren, Debbie, Willie and Leanne standing outside the rehabilitation workshop.

Trainees included Honiara and Guadalcanal province team: Leanne (physiotherapist) and Hedley (wheelchair technician); Malaita province team: John (CBR Coordinator) and Willie (Wheelchair and prosthetic technician). All four attended intermediate level wheelchair training course last year.

Trainers included MA’s Ray Mines and Lauren Flaherty, and volunteer trainer Debbie Wilson from Seating To Go, in New Zealand. Bringing in volunteer trainers who are working in Australia and New Zealand services are a really great way of bringing fresh skills and knowledge to local partners as well as the MA team, helping us to stay up to date with the latest approaches to wheelchairs and seating.

The intermediate clinic focused on:

Follow up of children already using intermediate level wheelchairs: Barriers such as a lack of transport, isolated or rural clients, and very high caseloads can impact on the frequency of follow up. This makes follow up one of the most difficult parts of service provision. By focusing on follow up through home visits, the team was able to practice their skills and see clients who would have had more difficulty coming into the service.

Refresh assessment and prescription skills: Supporting the clinical and technical reasoning skills of service personnel when providing intermediate level wheelchairs is an important aspect of all mentoring clinics.

The trainers were impressed with the skills, knowledge and commitment of the Solomon Islands team; and congratulate them!

A young boy in his wheelchair is looking up and laughing at a woman standing next to him, looking at him and smiling.
Synclear and Debbie after his wheelchairs for kids wheelchair was fitted.

Synclear was visited at home just outside of Honiara. He was at home with his parents and younger siblings. While the wheelchair had been very successful at the beginning, Synclear had grown out of it, and it was no longer comfortable.

Although Synclear’s family live close to Honiara, it is difficult for them to travel to the service because Synclear’s wheelchair will not fit on a public bus, so the family can only travel by taxi, which is expensive.

During the home visit, it was agreed that a fresh appointment was needed. An appointment was made, and his family provided with transport assistance to get to the service.

During his assessment process, his team re-looked at how Synclear’s body had changed since his original assessment and considered feedback from his parents about how best to support him so that he is relaxed.

Synclear’s family chose to keep his Wheelchairs for Kids wheelchair, which was modified to suit him.

His team was able to provide the right kind of support so that Synclear is able to sit upright and well balanced which helped him to be able to relax in his chair! It was a great outcome for Synclear, his family and his service provision team!

The Solomon Islands Rehabilitation Division is part of the Pacific MDS Project funded by the Australian Government through ANCP. MA also acknowledges the support of Wheelchairs for Kids and Latter Day Saints Charities for donating appropriate wheelchairs to the Solomon Islands.