For over 50 years, the Canadian Red Cross has been offering the Health Equipment Loan Program to support people in a number of communities across the country with a need, often unexpected, for health and medical equipment. A volunteer run program, it depends on the support of dedicated community members and donations from individuals and organizations like the Maple Ridge Community Foundation.

The support of donors like the Maple Ridge Community Foundation assists the Maple Ridge Red Cross Equipment Depot to provide medical equipment to individuals on a by-donation basis. Access to this equipment supports the independence of clients, primarily seniors or people recovering from an operation, and enables them to remain active in their lives and their community. The benefits of this program aren’t simply evident in the health of the clients but also their well-being and that of the people in their lives who may otherwise suffer undue stress in their effort to support them.

Local resident Elaine Hayden has used the program three times in the last fifteen years, twice for her husband’s aunt who had back surgery, and again this past spring for herself when she had a complete knee replacement. While Elaine was recovering from her surgery she required a variety of medical equipment including, a walker, a cane, a shower chair, and a raised toilet seat.

Often people like Elaine, who are in need of this equipment, would have to look to friends or family to borrow the equipment as purchasing the equipment for a short-term illness or recovery may not be practical or affordable.

Elaine notes, “I guess I would have sent out an email message to all and sundry to see what I might have been able to borrow, but I don’t immediately know of any of my friends who have access to equipment… I would have had to see what could be rented or maybe even had to purchase items.”

The Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program includes three programs that provide an essential service to people in the community. HELP a short term loan service offers health equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers and bathroom aids on a short-term basis to individuals recovering from illness, injury, or surgery. Children’s Medical Equipment Recycling and Loan Service (CMERLS) provides all types of medical equipment for children who are clients of the Ministry of Children and Family Development and maintains a small stock of surplus children’s equipment that is made available to the general public. And, the Aids to Independent Living (AIL) Program provides long term loans of medical equipment to people with limited incomes. Home delivery and installation of equipment is available for a number of programs.

Elaine expressed, “I do not know how one would manage their recovery without this kind of equipment to support them.” She was completely satisfied with the service she received through the Red Cross Health Equipment Loan Program. “I found the people we talked to and interacted with to be friendly, helpful, and well-informed. They were easy to deal with and ‘wanted to help’.” In addition to excellent service Elaine notes that the equipment she received was, “in excellent shape”.

Story by Julie Rankin

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