Loie Rhodes is the MSH classroom teacher at Orange Grove Adult School in Sacramento, CA. She has previously worked as a nurse attendant in an acute hospital, as well as in social services in a therapy unit. Her background has made her believe in people and in the dignity of independence.
I teach adults at a school in Sacramento, and I have to tell you: we are thrilled to have the SoloLift! Now, adults who have used wheelchairs for 40 years can be up and walking! We are seeing our students strengthen muscles and improve skills in ways we’ve never seen before.
Our students comment all the time about the SoloLift. When I ask if they like the SoloLift, Donna says, “Yeah!” Darryl nods, and Tim gives a big grin and says, “Yes!” Bonnie says, “Course I do!”
We are located near the community college, and now that our students are upright and can see out the window, we love to watch the student joggers go by.
One of our students in particular likes the SoloLift for the independence it gives him in the bathroom. Tyrone, one of the classroom staff, explains, “It gives a little more independence to the student. We are able to leave them privately in the restroom while they are in the SoloLift; it secures them. They are able to relax.”
Juan, another classroom aide, appreciates the SoloLift because there is no strain on the back of the caregiver. He says the students love to get up out of their chair and stand on their own.
I know from personal experience how different the world is from a standing position vs. a seated position. People treat you differently when you’re below them instead of eye to eye. I can see what it does for our students to be upright: they are treated with greater respect, and in turn, they have greater dignity and self-respect. It is good to see.
Tim is thoroughly enjoying his newfound independence. The other day when his mom was here, he marched around in his Pacer for a full hour!
Our primary inspiration for all this activity with the SoloLift and the Pacer came through the Adult MOVE program, a motor skills education program for adults with physical disabilities (www.move-international.org) We brought the adult MOVE training here to our location in February and March. Receiving the training were all five of my support staff in the classroom, myself, some of the students’ families, and the school principal and vice-principal. It was great to have such tremendous support right within the school. The MOVE training has inspired all of us. Already by March, we were putting our students into the Pacer.
The SoloLift is also used on campus for other students (i.e. a student who has fallen or needs help getting up after a seizure).
In our classroom now, we use the SoloLift primarily for access in the restroom. Jessica, one of our classroom staff, explains, “The benefit I see of using the SoloLift in the restroom is that the students are active during the transfer. They are actually building muscle, and the amount of strength that they are gaining every week is amazing. There is one woman who has been using the SoloLift and the Pacer, and her muscles are getting so strong. Now, when we use the SoloLift, she eagerly initiates and leads in the transfers! With the SoloLift, our students are able to stand and take steps instead of just being lifted.”
Linda, another classroom aide, agrees. “It has been a life saver in the restroom, for helping the students. It used to be a real struggle. Now it’s just in and out and everybody is happy. The students also get into their Pacers, so it’s been a great experience.”
We encourage our students to actively transfer from a sitting to a standing position, and take steps to the toilet. As I see it, our use of the SoloLift in the restroom is preliminary to encourage our students to think “I can actually walk using a piece of equipment. Maybe I could get around without the SoloLift. The Pacer could allow me freedom, too, just like the other students who decide to go all over the campus.” Our students go out to the garden, and to other places they haven’t been able to before.
It is important for me to see how the SoloLift is drawing so much more from our staff as well, not just our students. But the students are the real story here, and we really have some stars among them. This summer, we will be holding some Olympic-theme activities, and the principal has agreed that our students will be carrying the torch while in their Pacers!
We are proud of our students. Staff, L to R: Linda, Loie (teacher), Jessica, Juan, Tyrone, Cindy.