Giving #ChairComfort changes lives
”I didn’t know I would be “fixing” wheelchairs when I signed up as a Fidesco volunteer!” says Lise-Marie Chauvin, one of three Fidesco volunteers at LITTLE EDEN Society’s Domitilla and Danny Hyams Home (DDHH) in Edenvale.
Under the guidance of Ilka Galabova (Care Centre Supervisor DDHH) and with the training of Ruth Stubbs, a disability specialist from the Paige Project, a charity organisation that assists with the development of children with Cerebral Palsy (CP), Lise-Marie started training in December 2017 on how to suitably align wheelchairs for the residents. She was later joined in 2018 by two more Fidesco volunteers, Laure Pinel and Blandine Josse in this work of customising residents’ wheelchairs, to ensure they are comfortable.
LITTLE EDEN Society cares for 300 residents with profound intellectual disability, lovingly called “Angels”. Of the 300 Angels, 189 spend most of their waking hours in wheelchairs. Due to their profound intellectual and physical disabilities, mostly a result of Cerebral Palsy (CP), they need wheelchairs suitable for their physical needs.
CP is a condition causing impaired muscle coordination (spastic paralysis) and/or other disabilities, caused by damage to the brain before or at birth. Due to various levels of CP, each Angel has different levels of paralysis and may suffer from contractures and progressive skeletal disfigurement if wheelchairs are not customised – impacting their well-being. Uniquely adapting the wheelchair for each resident’s special body form is one way of preventing contractures and progressive skeletal disfigurement.
“A customised support cushion at a strategic place inside a wheelchair significantly changes the life of a resident who is in a wheelchair as it is their only mode of mobility and place from which they view their world,” said Lise-Marie.
Being able to suitably adjust a wheelchair allows Lise-Marie to feel she adds value to the LITTLE EDEN Angels because a small adjustment completes and compliments the Angels’ therapy as well as stimulation and learning processes.
Lise-Marie says there are many good stories to share about how such intervention helps our Angels to have a better quality of life. One such resident is Nosipo who was very shy and introverted due to her skewed wheelchair sitting position. After the wheelchair intervention, giving her the right support, she is always smiling and has since learned many new skills.
The alignment of people with physical disabilities in their wheelchairs is not new to Laure Pinel, who is a trained Occupational Therapist. She says to help a resident to sit correctly in a wheelchair is very different in South Africa compared to their homeland, France. The wheelchairs and materials she is using here, such as memory foam and other components, are also very different. Although what she learned and what she currently uses are worlds apart, she is thankful for Ruth’s teaching and guidance to do the best with what we have.
Blandine, a trained social worker and to whom wheelchair alignment concepts are totally foreign, says she loves doing this work because she sees the results benefitting our Angels.
She recalls how after an intervention to Hloni’s wheelchair, he learned to push himself on his wheelchair and became one of the “social butterflies” of DDHH.
YOU have the opportunity to play a part in adding value to the lives of our Angels, by contributing to the #ChairComfort campaign. Through this campaign LITTLE EDEN aims to raise enough funds to ensure that all residents sit comfortably in their wheelchairs.
The cost of one upgraded wheelchair is R1 470. Thanks to the generosity of our friends and supporters we have already raised enough money to upgrade 48 wheelchairs. We still need to upgrade the remaining 141 wheelchairs!
To be one of our #ChairComfort Supporters donate through one of the following options:
- Go to our website https://littleeden.org.za/donate.php
- Pay your gift of love directly into LITTLE EDEN’s bank account:
ACCOUNT NAME: Little Eden Society
ACCOUNT NUMBER: 5468 0928 009
BRANCH No.: 252-442
Remember your reference: #CC + Cell number
Hashtags: #LittleEdenFamily #ChairComfort #AngelWheelchairs #Comfort forAngels #ChairSupporter #LoveAndCare #LittleEdenSociety #Love #Support #Care #ComfortableAngel #HappyAngel