Got an Old Wheelchair?

When my dear father in law died five years ago, we didn’t know what to do with his scooter. It meant the world of freedom to him and it represented a huge outlay in cash.

I see scooters like his sitting on front lawns, ‘For Sale’ signs taped to the steering wheel.

And I’m sure the same could be said for wheelchairs, walkers, tub stools, crutches, CPAP machines, canes, and any number of medical aids that make life easier. Not just for old folks, either. People often upgrade equipment, and face the problem of what to do withh the servicable piece of equipment they no longer need.

So it gets hoisted into the garage, tucked into the basement, dropped at the dump or put on the boulevard with a ‘For Sale’ sign on it.

Christy Skelly is a navigator for the Accessibility Resource Centre (for people age 55 and over). Funded by the Ministry of Health, operated by Independent Living Services of Simcoe County and Area, she’s pretty excited about a new website called the Assistive Devices Exchange. It’s the go-to place to both list and acquire important aids that make life a little eaiser for people, whether they’re experiencing a short term or long term health challenge. is the website and through Collingwood’s Community Connection, the site is hosted for anyone to use.

You can post items you’d like to give away or sell. You can search either by device or by geographic area for the item you really need. The website is connecting buyers and sellers in a unique category. Like Kijiji and Craig’s List, the service is free. Unlike the public sites, the service is augmented through Independent Living Services. For each item listed, Christy researches and adds information… physical dimensions (very important to people), as well as other characteristics.

Find. Sell. Give Away.

Christy tells the story of one woman whose husband was injured in a car accident. With reduced income, buying the lift chair so he can move from sitting to standing with help was just out of the question. She found a chair on the, called the sellers who gave her a number of other aids for her husband free of charge when she bought the chair. It made a big difference.

Another lady whose husband is having severe mobility problems called looking for a scooter so she can get him outside into the garden on nice days. She located an affordable scooter through the website.

The equipment is listed for 90 days and then Christy’s office calls to see if people want to re-list, reduce the price or remove the item. If it hasn’t sold in 180 days, it’s removed from the site.

“I don’t know of another website that is strictly for assistive devices,” says Christy. “We have people listing from outside of Simcoe County, and people using it from outside of Simcoe County as well. We want to make sure used equipment is being reused and not going to landfills.”

Obvious question is whether the ministry’s assistive devices program applies to used equipment, where government financial aid helps to acquire equipment. And the answer is no, it doesn’t. It’s a difficult thing for government to get involved in funding used equipment when purchase source and condition is unknown.

But the website is working. It’s been operational for 10 months, officially launched five months ago and so far there have been 181 pieces listed and 135 matches. Christy sees this as a growth activity, for sure.

She credits United Way for giving a grant to investigate this process and all the community agencies who are helping to promote the site. Listing and Directions are in churches, political offices, community services like Information Barrie, CCAC, social service agencies. Christy says her group is looking for other agencies who want to help publicize the site. (you can reach Christy at 705 737-3263 X239)

What a great service! If you’re experiencing temporary need for a walker or a cane; if you’re post-operation and needing a wheelchair or you have a visiting person who needs one… well, this site just makes sense.

Guidelines are obvious. Only equipmnent in good working order unless you’re offering it for parts only. Items to be removed as soon as sold. Say whether or not you will deliver the item. Know that Independent Living Services is going to review your submission and add to it before it goes live.

The organization isn’t able to house or store equipment, unfortunately. Christy said they looked at offering that service but space and cost became prohibitive.

However, a person to person link is really a great connector!

Thanks, Christy! And thanks to everyone who contributed to make this happen!