Yesterday I put on my best Miss Marple face and went for a nosey round Medequip; an organisation I’ve worked with over the past few months but never actually seen IRL. It’s our local hub for all the crutches and sticks and other bits and bobs that help patients regain mobility after accidents, operations, strokes and other significant health events, and can enable older patients to live safely and independently at home, reducing their risk of falls and injury. Good eh?
Medequip’s unit is a real Aladdin’s cave. I may have quoted Gordon Ramsay as I went in. Ahem. Let me tell you, that modest outer façade 100% belies what is on the other side of the door; suddenly you're in a massive physiotherapy-themed Ikea. But luckily there's no slalom past kitchen utensils you neither need nor have space for, and no bizarre yet tempting combo of pot plants, tea lights and Scandinavian sausages at the checkout. Though that gives me an idea for zhuzhing up our surgery porch…
The list of items Medequip lends out is huge. And that’s how we came to do a city-wide amnesty last month, because recent figures suggest only 20% of the equipment is returned the local NHS services. Not great is it? York Hospital’s annual spend on walking aids (like crutches, walking sticks and zimmer frames) was almost £0.5million last year. You’re probably starting to get the picture that there’s a big financial problem here, as well as a sustainability one, right? So with that in mind, I was very happy to discover that we recouped so many items in our amnesty that the bin was overflowing (even though it was emptied daily), and the re-usable items totalled almost £1.5k in value:
18 walking sticks
7 walking frames
5 shower stools
15 repose cushions
There were also 27 items salvaged that will be sent overseas via local charity PhysioNet (love these guys), and we are still counting the moonboots - unbelievably they aren’t allowed to be re-used here in the UK. Yes, I agree that’s a silly rule, especially when you discover that they cost £100-150 each (skull emoji), so if there's one in your house, you have my permission to commandeer it after use and bring it down to Medequip's depot on James Street in York. It will be set aside for a weekly PhysioNet collection, to be sent to e.g. Africa where it will have transformational effect, helping someone recover from a leg injury that means the difference between them working, earning a wage, and therefore feeding their family, or not. These items truly are life-saving.
Basically, if you’ve borrowed crutches, or if you’re clearing a loft or garage and discover any mobility items that could be helpful to another person, please please please return them! You can take them straight to Medequip’s depot, to York hospital, or call the number on the label and Medequip will come to collect them from the comfort of your home.
Medequip will even accept any brand of item, even if it's from a visiting relative, or a hospital you visited whilst on holiday. Simple!