Our FlexEquip Team are here to help you get the equipment you need. In this blog series, we'd like to introduce you to some of our team members, finding out how they assist you and why they enjoy being here at MND NSW.
My name is Nicole Smith and I am an Equipment Officer for FlexEquip MND NSW.
I have been in this role for almost 10 years now.
My role is delivery and retrieving equipment, maintenance of equipment both onsite and offsite. Liaising with courier companies, supplier companies and technical support companies throughout NSW & ACT. Accounts payable in regard to FlexEquip couriers, technicians and purchases.
I applied for a job with MND NSW in January 2013. At the time I was a carer for a friend with MND. As I took a part time position I was able to continue caring for my friend on my days off, nights and weekends.
Unfortunately in April 2015 my friend passed away at the age of 39 leaving behind a 4 year old and a 7 year old.
After that time I took on more hours as I was more determined than ever to try and assist both MND Participants and their families to have the best life they can with whatever resources we could provide.
In 2018 I received a call from my bestest buddy from my childhood to let me know that he too had just been diagnosed with MND. I was devastated as I knew I was about to lose another friend to this insidious disease. He passed away in April of this year.
We are a small team in FlexEquip and for that reason we are always busy. In fact, this year we have had our busiest months in the 10 years I have been here. My priority is always to get requested equipment out first. The faster I can get those items out the safer it is for both the Participant and also their carers.
I love to hear how excited people are to be receiving equipment. I get some lovely emails and calls letting me know what a difference these have made for them to get back out and access community.
I remember one lovely phone call from a gentleman up in Northern NSW who had been stuck in his room for ages prior to us sending up the power wheelchair. All he wanted to do was get out and go to a café for a decent cup of coffee. The first day he was able to go out he called me from the café to tell me all about the great coffee, wonderful weather and to offer to take me out for a coffee with him if I was ever up in his area.
It is calls like this that put a smile on my face and remind me just why I am still here working. Not all calls are like this as you can imagine and I have been known to have quite a cry with families that I have supported for a number of years when I receive the call to collect all the equipment.
One of the most common comments I get is from our Participants over 65 who are just so grateful for the equipment they have been able to access through FlexEquip. Not being able to access the NDIS and with Aged Care packages so limited, most of the equipment provided by FlexEquip would be unattainable for most over 65 Participants. Items like Eye Gaze and power wheelchairs are extremely costly and without the funding we have received in the past few years, would not be available.
I get asked what sort of equipment we deal with on a daily basis. The answer is absolutely everything. We have the small items such as shower stools, chairs, manual wheelchairs and cushions, through to your high end hoists, power wheelchairs, eye gaze technology and a plethora of communication aids.
To me the most important thing is communication and mobility. I have seen first hand how frustrating it can be to not be able to communicate effectively. To not be able to access family and community and feel a part of what is going on around you.
I am aware we cannot help everyone with everything they need, but as a team, we always try our best. Over the past few years our range of available items has increased dramatically and we are always working towards having a wide range to cover most needs.