The House of Hope Wheelchair Service was a Highly Commended project in the World Cerebral Palsy Day Awards.
Meeting a deep seated need
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 1 per cent of a given population needs a wheelchair, which translates to at least 550,000 Tanzanians. The House of Hope, CCBRT’s rehabilitation centre in Moshi, aims to meet this need for the Kilimanjaro region.
The rural, mountainous terrain of northern Tanzania means children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy (and their families) are often isolated and unable to access much needed treatments.
Lack of transport, distance and financial challenges are all barriers to accessing the services they need.
The House of Hope wants this to change.
One of their goals is to improve access to comprehensive rehabilitation for people living with cerebral palsy through outreach clinics and subsidized services.
Through their seating provision service, children with cerebral palsy receive wheelchairs that help to improve their positioning, head control and motor skills.
Wheelchairs also enable more involvement in home and community life because it straight up improves their mobility.
“Parents/caregivers of wheelchair recipients often report that prior to receiving a wheelchair, they left their child in bed or on a mat for most of the day, and/or had to carry them around from place to place,” says Lucy Kavishe, CCBRT Moshi Programme Manager.
Having a wheelchair lets children with cerebral palsy attend school and participate in social activities such as church and playing with peers.
Caregivers also report that having their child seated in a wheelchair gives them the freedom to perform day-to-day activities around their homes (like cleaning and cooking) because they can have their children in their wheelchairs close by and know they are in a safe position.
All of CCBRT’s wheelchair recipients receive a thorough assessment from trained clinicians, therapists, and seating specialists to assess their condition, identify needs, and prescribe the most appropriate assistive device(s).
Training is provided on how to operate and maintain the device, as well as proper positioning and seating.
The rehabilitation team then provide a follow up 6 months later to verify the wheelchairs are used for the intended purposes, and to ensure they are still appropriate so that secondary complications are avoided for patients.
Through follow-up, the team are able to track progress, provide additional treatment plans and recommendations on ways to adapt therapy or exercises for individuals. CCBRT also assess if homes are accessible and/or need some adjustments to accommodate better mobility, as well as assessing the condition of the wheelchairs.
Wheelchairs through working together
Since 2009, the House of Hope has provided around 1500 wheelchairs to people with disabilities.
To achieve this, CCBRT works with numerous organisations, including LDS, Motivation and Wheelchairs for Kids, to acquire a sufficient number of wheelchairs to meet the demands of its seating services.
The organisation also works with a local producer to manufacture additional wheelchairs when needed.
In order to ensure it is reaching as many Tanzanians with cerebral palsy as possible, CCBRT maintain close links with local organisations, schools, healthcare facilities and community groups.
These relationships serve a dual purpose.
Firstly, they facilitate the identification and referral of children with cerebral palsy and other disabilities to CCBRT’s services.
Secondly, they help to raise awareness about disabilities and promote the availability of CCBRT’s services for communities across the country.
“CCBRT plans to continue strengthening its follow-up services by conducting outreach trips for patients who have already received a wheelchair and to identify new patients who need an assistive device,” says Lucy.
The CCBRT will continue to provide subsidized seating services to Tanzanians in need.
- CCBRT – Community Based Rehabilitation
- CCBRT – Physical Rehabilitation
- CCBRT – Moshi Fact Sheet [PDF]
- CCBRT – Annual Reports, Strategic Plan, Fact Sheets
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