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VoQoL Project Update
The collaborative QAWC and Coral Tech VoQoL (Voice Activated Quality of Life) project has now entered phase 3 of installations. In June 2018, phase 2 of the project was completed as 11 VoQoL systems were successfully installed at Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre, and phase 3 has commenced at Eric Miles Cheshire Home, where 6 units have currently been installed. To date 51 installations have been completed at three homes which provide permanent accommodation to Members in the greater Cape Town region.
So what has been the impact of such a huge project? Is this technology really making a difference? QAWC have recorded the following: 95% of residents feel their independence has been increased through having the VoQoL system available to them. 100% of the residents in the two homes stated they are calling staff less frequently as a result of the installations, and the most used functions are turning on/off the TV and the lights. Residents at Turfhall Cheshire Home, Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre and Eric Miles Cheshire Home reported that the technology has been most beneficial in the evening when they have been transferred out of their wheelchair, and functions such as independently controlling a fan have been beneficial for temperature regulation. One resident has told us “When you are physically impaired, your sense of control is taken away. VoQoL gives me more autonomy and less need for staff. That is my favourite part.”
We have also seen the benefit for staff. 100% of staff recorded they are being called less after the VoQoL installations. One staff member reported that the VoQoL system” is a great help to residents when they need personal assistance, and it allows me more time to do other things I need too. I have seen a big increase in the independence of the residents.” Moving forward, QAWC are seeking funding to complete installations in an additional 32 rooms for residents. Additionally, for individuals with speech impediments, Coral Tech is in the pilot phase of developing a remote which will speak commands on behalf of the user. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this technology. QAWC have also been approached regarding private installations. If you would be interested in a private VoQoL installation please contact the QAWC office.
Care Attendant Training with QASA and RAF
As I’m sure our members would agree, the carers who look after quadriplegics and paraplegics play a vital role in their day-to-day well-being. With this in mind, QAWC assisted QASA to conduct two 4 hour care attendant training workshops in George (3 September) and in Cape Town (18 October). These training sessions, which were attended by 70 caregivers in total, gave those who attended more information about how best to care for and treat wheelchair users. The sessions were interactive and proved to be very popular with all those who attended. The training, which was funded by the Road Accident Fund, will ensure that carers are able to provide an improved level of service to the quadriplegics and paraplegics who they assist. Our sincere thanks to QASA and RAF for investing in the well-being of our members.
Casual Day 2018 took place on Friday 7th September with many Members, supporters and our own QAWC team choosing to “be an everyday hero”, the theme of this year’s celebration. 22 Members took the opportunity to support QAWC by selling stickers on behalf of the Association and raising funds for themselves. There was excellent support from corporates, schools and individuals who supported the National campaign. Some of our new supporters this year were Tsogo Sun and the Mayor’s Office, who along with our existing supporters helped QAWC to sell over 11,000 stickers. QAWC sold several stickers at the De Ville Centre in Durbanville on the 5th and 6th September, and spent Casual Day with the Goodwood Correctional Services staff, providing sensitization for staff and participating in fun activities. Thanks to all the Members and supporters of Casual Day for being an “everyday hero for persons with disabilities”. We look forward to an even bigger Casual Day in 2019.
QAWC was excited to receive a donation of pre-used personal computers which we were able to distribute to our members. QAWC had a waiting list of members who had requested computers who were the 1st members to receive these computers. An e-mail was sent to members on our data base informing them of the computers that were available and these were handed out on a first-come first-served basis. QAWC was proud to be able to provide members with these important devices and look forward to them being used to improve their new owners computer skills and for them to be productive. Are you a member who requires a computer? We hope to receive more computers in the future so contact the office and ensure that your name is on the waiting list.
Members accessing some of our services and visitors to the QAWC office will have noticed that one of our team members sounded different from the rest. We were privileged to host Lowri Williams, a volunteer from Sydney Australia for the period of a year. Lowri was a breath of fresh air in the QAWC office, bringing an infectious enthusiasm, professionalism and wonderful work ethic with her. Lowri headed up many of the QAWC projects that members benefited from in 2018 and we were extremely sad to see her leave in the middle October. A number of our members met Lowri and thoroughly enjoyed interacting with her. We are pleased to be able to pass on the wonderful news that Lowri will be returning to QAWC in February and will volunteer at the QAWC office for another 9 months. We look forward to her returning and continuing to make a contribution towards improving the lives of our members.
On 30 November QASA hosted a workshop for employers at the Pick n Pay head office in Kenilworth. Invitations were issued strategically, focusing on the heads of the Human Resources Department of large companies. The workshop showcased the advantages of employing people with disabilities, focusing on and highlighting the value that employees with disabilities bring to the workplace. The aim of the workshop was to develop relationships with these decision-makers at the various companies with an eye to having them offer employment to QAWC and QASA members. The workshop was a success and an important 1st step in the journey towards finding more employment opportunities for our members.
Driving Ambitions in the Western Cape has arrived in full force. We currently have 6 drivers on the program, and have completed a roadshow with the Driving Ambitions adapted vehicle, showcasing to Members at Turfhall Cheshire Home, Langa Cheshire Home, Eric Miles Cheshire Home, the Western Cape APD and Robertson House. Additionally the car has also visited the multidisiciplinary teams at WCRC, Life Health Care at Vincent Palotti, the Walking with Brandon Foundation and appeared on eTV. QAWC would love to see many more drivers utilise the program- to sign up today contact Ronelle Lyson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Driving Ambitions in the Western Cape also has its first success story. Juan-Claude (JC) Dittrich is the first QAWC Member to successfully obtain his license through the program. Four years ago, JC was involved in a traumatic motor vehicle accident which broke his c6/c7 vertebrae and has resulted in him becoming a wheelchair user. JC applied for the Driving Ambitions program as he realised he could not rely on others to get himself around to his sporting and other requirements. JC passed his test after just 10 lessons. Through this achievement, JC has regained his independence and can now inspire other people with disabilities to live a healthier lifestyle and reach their full potential. JC’s future goal is to enter the 2024 Paralympics for hand cycling. QASA and QAWC would like to wish JC the best of luck his driving and future endeavours.
Cricket season is well and truly upon us and QAWC is pleased to inform members that we will once again have the use of a suite at PPC Newlands for the 2018/2019 Cricket season. The QAWC office has circulated a fixture list as well as the dates that members must phone in on in order to ensure that their name goes into the draw for tickets. If you have not received the fixture list and dates to phone in, please contact the QAWC office and request that it be sent to you. QAWC looks forward to welcoming regular guests back to the suite and hopes to see many new faces there too. The suite that we are able to make use of presents an excellent opportunity for members to watch and enjoy cricket at PPC Newlands at no cost
Rural Outreach and Support
This program saw the QAWC team to take to be road and visit various towns including Hermanus, Hawston, Beaufort West, Murraysberg, Knysna and Oudtshoorn . Working closely with the APD peer supporters in these various communities, the QAWC team visited wheelchair users who live in these rural settings. The team introduced QAWC to these wheelchair users, informing them about the projects and programmes that QAWC offer. The QAWC team were also able to speak to and listen to the wheelchair users living in these areas and identify what their greatest challenges and needs are. In all these areas transport remained the biggest issue with wheelchair users unable to move around easily in their community. The lack of employment and skills development opportunities were also identified by the wheelchair users that the QAWC team met. QAWC were proud to be able to distribute 5 wheelchairs and assist with the repair of a motorised wheelchair. With all these wheelchair users now aware of QAWC, we look forward to improving their lives by having them access the services and programs that we offer.
International Spinal Cord Injury Day
The 5th September is International Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Day, a day which raises awareness for those living with spinal cord injuries, and presents an opportunity to talk about some of the major reasons spinal cord injuries occur. In 2018, the theme for International SCI Day is prevention as the majority of SCI’s can be prevented. Whilst there is a common saying that “prevention is better than cure”, where SCI’s are concerned prevention is cure. In South Africa the three main causes of Spinal Cord Injuries are transport related accidents, violent assaults and falls. On International Spinal Cord Injury Day, QAWC deployed 3 members and 2 carers at the Engen Garage in Winelands to participate in SCI day Buckle Up campaign. The slogan for this campaign is “Buckle Up! We don’t want new members” as 26% of all traumatic SCI’s are as a result of a transport related injury and the use of seatbelts can significantly reduce the chance of injury in an accident. During the course of the day 93 motorists pledged that they would drive safely and buckle up themselves and their passengers. QAWC will endeavour to run this campaign again on International Spinal Cord Injury Day to continue to increase awareness of SCI’s and ensure they are prevented.
Awareness Campaign in Vredendal
As many of our members will confirm, there are still many people in the community who do not know how to speak to and interact with a wheelchair user. With this in mind, QAWC has an ongoing awareness campaign which sees a team of wheelchair users visit schools across the province educating the learners that they speak to you about the ability that wheelchair users have, the correct way to interact with wheelchair users as well as the importance of making positive lifestyle choices to avoid being injured through violence and motor vehicle crashes. In August the team visited Vredendal speaking to just over 1400 learners at schools in very rural communities. The team also visited a school in Kuils River on 5 October where they were very warmly received. This project, which is funded by the Department of Social Development, is extremely popular with the learners and educators at the schools that we visit and has become a big and popular part of the QAWC culture. The team enjoys interacting with learners and changing their perception of wheelchair users.
Buckle Up across the Province
QAWC members have been, and in some cases, are still busy across the province raising awareness about the dangers of not wearing seatbelts when travelling in vehicles. In the period from October-middle December QAWC is deploying teams of wheelchair users at 6 petrol stations on busy routes around the province. Teams are deployed for a total of 7 days in each of Worcester, George, Klawer, Hermanus, Oudtshoorn and Cape Town, where they actively engage with drivers of vehicles, reminding them to “Buckle up” as we don’t want new members! In addition to raising awareness about road safety, this program also provides much-needed temporary employment to QAWC members and their helpers. Members enjoy participating in the campaign and see it as an opportunity to give something back to the community. The Buckle up campaign will continue throughout 2019, so please contact the QAWC office if you would like to participate in the program and live in any of the towns where the campaign takes place.
Office Closure And End of Year Wishes
We would like to inform all members that the QAWC office will be closed from 21 December 2018 until 7 January 2019 so that our staff members can enjoy a well-deserved and much needed rest. The QAWC Management Board and staff wish all QAWC members a happy and healthy festive season. We have some exciting new programs and projects planned for 2019 aimed at improving the lives of our quadriplegic and paraplegic members… Watch this space for more information!
If you would like to download a Pdf of the above Newsletter, please click on the link below:
Click on the images to enlarge
The new location of the QAWC suite at PPC Newlands proved to be a massive hit with members who enjoyed watching some excellent cricket at PPC Newlands over the last few months. Cricket fans enjoyed a bumper season, with two fantastically competitive and controversial test matches taking place at PPC Newlands in addition to 2 international limited overs matches. The new suite proved to be even more comfortable than our previous home and provided an improved view of the action on the field as it is lower and closer to the action. Our suite was one of those targeted and broken into over the Easter weekend, but fortunately unlike the other 24 suites that were broken into, we did not experience very much loss. QAWC would like to thank all at the WPCA for once again giving our members the use of the suite. We really do appreciate it.
The improvements to voice activated technology around the world have made a life changing impact to the way we interact with each other. Together QAWC and specialist technology provider CoralTech are working to use voice activated technology to improve the lives of our members. The VoQoL project involves installing a voice activated technology system in three residential facilities around the Western Cape – Turfhall Cheshire Homes, Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre and Eric Miles Cheshire Homes, to develop the independence, autonomy and control residents have over their lives. Whilst the functions of this technology are relatively simple- can turn on/off a TV, change channel, turn on/off a light, turn on/off a device such as a fan plugged into a smart plug, request information off the web such as weather and news updates, and trigger help- the benefits to our members who are using the technology has been life changing. QAWC and CoralTech have completed 35 installations in Turfhall Cheshire Home made possible through funding received from Telkom, and will be starting installations in Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre and Eric Miles Cheshire Homes with funding from Claremont Rotary from June 2018. The feedback we have had from residents is that they “love the control I have over my life” and it makes our members “feel independent”! We love seeing the positive impact this project is having on the lives of our members, and continuing the installations over the coming months.
As part of the QAWC Rural Outreach Campaign our team travelled to Oudtshoorn and George during the last quarter. Meetings were held with APD peer supporters who will assist to identify wheelchair users in their communities, inform them about QAWC and assist them to become members who will benefit from the programs and services that QAWC offer. A number of home visits were done in and around George where we met with wheelchair users in their homes and were able to engage with them about the work we at QAWC do. This program, which is funded by the NLC, will see our team visit areas such as Vredendal, Beaufort West, Riversdale, Knysna in an attempt to reach more wheelchair users across the province. Inaccessible transport, very few employment prospects, inaccessible streets and pavements, issues with supplies from the day hospitals as well as a general lack of opportunities for people with disabilities are some of the problems which we have already identified. Life for wheelchair users in these outlying areas can be very tough and QAWC hopes to be able to assist to improve the quality of lives of our new and existing members in these areas to some degree.
The extremely popular annual OCC took place in George on Sunday 18 February and this year QAWC was also there! QAWC and QASA were given the opportunity to have a stand at the registration as well as at the race village on race day and we took the opportunity to catch up with existing members, introduce QAWC and QASA to quadriplegics and paraplegics from across the country and network with members of the George community. Our small team joined the 74 members who received assistance from the QASA sports fund in order to be able to participate in this year’s race. The event, which was held on a Sunday for the 1st time, was a success with the camaraderie between all who participated, supported and volunteered on the day a real highlight. We received letters and messages of thanks from those members who we assisted to participate, all of whom expressed what a wonderful time they had and how much they had enjoyed the experience. The OCC has a reputation of being a highlight on the calendar of many wheelchair users and this year’s race certainly lived up to expectations!
QAWC held the annual Easter raffle with two delicious 1kg bunnies up for grabs. Members and staff sold tickets to the community and raised R2170.00 for the association. The white and chocolate bunnies were won and gobbled up by Keton Adams and Luca Gordon. QAWC would like to thank James and Maureen Trichardt for their generous donations of the chocolate bunnies.
Preparing for Day Zero with the City of Cape Town
All of our members living in and around Cape Town will be well aware of the crippling drought that we are currently experiencing. As Day Zero loomed closer, QAWC joined other stakeholders in consulting with the City of Cape Town to ensure that the needs of our members would be seen to an addressed in the event of taps running dry. QAWC attended a meeting at the City of Cape Town where various strategies and solutions of how best to accommodate people with disabilities in the event of the taps running dry were discussed. QAWC was very concerned by the City’s readiness to provide water to wheelchair users living in the community and expressed this at the meeting. QAWC continues to be involved in the discussions regarding plans for solutions for people with disabilities should Day Zero ever occur. We were very pleased to see that projected dates for Day Zero have/were pushed back and looking forward to a very wet winter so that our dams can re-fill and replenish themselves.
Interacting with the Interactors
The QAWC Project Manager was asked to speak to the members of Interact Clubs from schools across the Southern Cape at their mini conference which took place at York High School in George. Interact, which is a junior division of Rotary, encourages learners at schools to get involved in their communities and make a difference to those less fortunate. The theme of this year’s conference was “Bridging the Gaps between People in Our Communities” and our Project Manager spoke to those present about the reality of being a wheelchair user and the many ways in which people can easily accommodate wheelchair users just by considering their needs. Our presentation was very well received by those present who left with a better understanding of the challenges faced by a person with a disability.
Thanks and best wishes to Babalo
At the end of April we unfortunately had to say goodbye to Babalo Pholose who, thanks to an internship through the HWSETA & QASA, spent a year working at QAWC. Babalo spent most of his time assisting in the Digital Village where he impacted on the lives of many of our members by teaching them vital computer skills. Babalo not only assisted with the actual training of the computer course, but also saw to some of the administration of the Digital Village. Babalo was part of the QAWC team that visited schools to raise awareness about people with disabilities at schools in areas such as Montagu, Mossel Bay, George and in and around Cape Town. Babalo represented QAWC with respect and dignity at many workshops and engagements and played a meaningful role during his time with us. We are sad that his year with us has come to an end but are excited to see how his career develops and unfolds in the future. “Cheers” Babalo, thanks for the contribution you made to QAWC.
On Sunday 6th May at 13:00 (SAST) runners all over the world started to run for those who cannot run themselves! The Wings for Life run is a unique fundraiser coordinated by Red Bull to raise vital funds for research for spinal cord injuries. Tens of thousands of runners all over the world start running at the same time, and the race is only over when participants are caught by the chaser car. This year in South Africa the Wings for Life race was held in Pretoria, and had over 5000 participants. QASA CEO Ari Seirlis, Chairman Norman Wright, QAGN members and staff, QAGS members and staff, and our very own Aussie Volunteer Lowri Williams all participated in the race. The event had a fantastic atmosphere and the general public were keen to interact with QuadPara staff and members. The worldwide event was won by Aron Anderson, who wheeled 89.85kms before the catcher car caught up to him!
It’s that time of year again! Tekkie Tax is coming on Friday 25th May!! Tekkie Tax started in 2013 when a few of South Africa’s biggest and most accountable welfare organisations joined forces to fundraise. Since it’s commencement, over R30 million has been raised and there are now 11 National Welfare organisations who represent more than 1000 local NGO’s who are beneficiaries of the campaign in 5 different sectors. The different sectors are Animals, Bring Hope to those in poverty, Children, Disability and Education. QAWC is involved for the second year as a beneficiary in the Disability sector! We are encouraging all our members to be involved by selling stickers and shoelaces to raise awareness for a great cause! By purchasing a sticker, individuals are able to wear their tekkies on Friday 25th May and leave a little sparkle by supporting a great cause!
To place your sticker order please contact the office. QAWC will also be selling stickers at the De Ville centre in Durbanville on the 23rd and 24th May so if you are in the area come and say hello!
The QAWC team are famous!! You might have seen us floating around different media channels this quarter. In January, project manager Anthony spoke with Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk about the impact our VoQoL project is having on the lives of wheelchair users. More recently, QAWC team members Anda, Babalo, Edward and Lowri have appeared in green in the Northern News Bellville/Durbanville and the Tygerburger to promote Tekkie Tax. If you see us anywhere else please send us a photo and let us know!