Wheelchair training rolled out

2016-06-07 06:00
A group of 22 individuals representing 16 different countries from around the world are attending the World Health Organisation’s Wheelchair Service Training of Trainers Package seminar that will run until 10 June at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre in Lentegeur.

A group of 22 individuals representing 16 different countries from around the world are attending the World Health Organisation’s Wheelchair Service Training of Trainers Package seminar that will run until 10 June at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre in Lentegeur.

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A Lentegeur centre will this week play host to 22 officials from around the globe for a seminar set to improve the wheelchair industry.

The Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre (WCRC) will see these individuals come together to discuss the publication of wheelchair guidelines and a series of wheelchair service training packages (WSTP) by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

It has been described as a turning point in raising awareness and improving access to appropriate wheelchairs globally.

There is, however, a lack of trainers equipped to deliver the training packages and so a WHO wheelchair service training of trainers package is now being developed in order to increase their impact.

The training started yesterday (Monday) and will be concluded on Friday 10 June.

The 22 individuals are from Albania, Ethiopia, Kenya, Romania, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, Malawi, Jordan and the USA. Observers and trainers from South Africa, USA, UK, Zimbabwe, New Zealand and Canada will also be present.

The Leadership, Management, and Governance Project is coordinating the development of the package, with funding from United States Agency for International Development.

Margaret Lamiell, project specialist with the Leadership, Management, and Governance Project says the Lentegeur Centre was chosen to host the training as it is the best in the region.

“This is the wheelchair service training of trainers and will be published by the World Health Organisation and is the fifth part of the package. [The participants] will be trained on basic wheelchair provision and intermediate provision,” says Lamiell.

This will be followed by a stakeholders meeting with industry decision makers.

Jenny Hendry, CEO of the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre, says that there is no “one size fits all” approach to providing a wheelchair and that incorrect prescription of a wheelchair has a detrimental impact on the well-being of the wheelchair user. “Incorrect allocation of a wheelchair causes great discomfort, inhibited mobility, pressure sores and poor posture. It is essential that health professionals prescribing mobility devices, such as wheelchairs, are knowledgeable and trained in order to ensure that the wheelchair user has long-term health and functional independence.”

Lamiell says the event aims to further empower individuals who have undergone the training and who possess significant experience in wheelchair services, to become trainers of the WSTP modules in their respective regions and communities.

“Because there is a lack of qualified trainers, it has become imperative to ensure that those who possess the experience and knowledge regarding the appropriate methods of wheelchair provision and service delivery are able to become trainers of the packages in their communities,” says Lamiell.

“This would ensure that those interested in receiving training on the WSTP are able to receive it from someone familiar with their mother tongue and in an environment they are accustomed to.”

Elsje Schefflerphysiotherapy and DARE consultant says the invited participants are all aready skilled in their countries and that this is an upskilling building on their expertise.

“The World Health Organisation has been working for the past 10 years to professionalise the industry. But this is an emotional subject and many make do with what they are given,” says Scheffler.

Scheffler says most times patients are not given wheelchairs that are suited to their needs and this training will aid professionals in best equiping patients with the most appropriate functions they require from the wheelchairs.

There are more than one billion people living with disability globally, equating to about 15% of the world’s population or one in seven people. An estimated 1% of the world’s population, or just over 65 million people, need a wheelchair.

“Each individual has his/her own unique needs for wheelchair and seat specifications. These specifications are dependent on the level of injury, range of mobility, and skin durability of the individual. Providing wheelchairs that are appropriate, well-designed and fitted not only enhances mobility, but also grants the user access to opportunities for education and employment, without experiencing major discomforts,” says Lamiell.

She continues that each country differs and the industry needs private individuals to bridge the gap where government cannot. “The wheelchair industry in countries vary and depends on the investment from government. South African government have set a good example,” she says.

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