Monday, 22 February 2016

Is your Healthcare Facility / Office Easily Accessible?

I had a meeting recently with a colleague who works in natural / holistic healthcare. When I was finalizing the appointment I asked her secretary directions of how to get to her clinic. Her secretary was unable to tell me, saying ask the bus company. I did just that. I took the bus with plenty of time to get to the clinic, got off at the bus stop suggested and then wondered what next. Thanks to modern technology, an App gave me directions as to where to walk. About 2 km later, I arrived at the address given to me, opened the gate and wondered, wow, how does anyone with health difficulties get to her. Also, which building or apartment will be hers. I turned right along a path that looked easier to walk along, surely a health professional would have an easy path to access her clinic.

Wrong turn, time to turn back. Well, now I had the only option in front of me, to go down a steep path that was narrow, paved but not very well and with no railing to hold onto. After about 10 steps there was a break in the paving, a few steps, a gravel / stony section and then another steep ramp like path that was narrow. Definitely not a path for someone in a wheelchair to navigate safely. Anyone with balance problems would also have much difficulty. Finally I reached the end of the path, very relieved that I managed without falling.

I did not measure the entrance to the door to determine if it is wheelchair accessible for anyone who can get to the front door, or measure the space inside to determine the possibility to maneuver a wheelchair. Obviously, these details are important too.

At the end of our meeting, I discovered that there was a very long flight of stairs a few buildings away that took me up to a main road that had buses going on it. I would estimate this was close to 200 meters away, certainly closer than the 2 km trek I had to get there. The secretary explained that she could not let me know about this set of stairs as she could not describe it.

To begin with, a potential client going up or down these stairs would have to have very good endurance and again probably not require any assistance for walking, whether that be crutches, walking frame or wheelchair. However, if the client is fit enough to go up and down all those stairs, the way to explain where they can be found is quite simple. The person giving directions can take a look at the numbers of the buildings on either side of the flight of stairs and also make note of any landmarks to help direct the person. In addition, thanks to today's modern technology, it is easy to take a few photographs and post them on a website offering clear instructions for anyone coming to their offices.

The experience made me once again, grateful for my training in occupational therapy and for the information on both the importance of accessibility and how to make it easier for potential clients to both find one and to access your offices. Accessibility is a basic right. If you have moved to new offices or are needing to move, contact an occupational therapist for assistance in making sure that your clients can reach you as easily as possible. If you live in Israel and are in need of an occupational therapy consultation please be in touch to book a consultation. After all, most clients who are fit and health will have limited needs for intervention from a health professional. If your profession is in any of the health professions, whether that be allopathic or alternative, it is vital to ensure that your clients can actually get to you safely and easily.

I look forward to hearing from you

Occupational Therapist, Healing Facilitator
Certified Infant Massage Instructor
Certified Kallah Teacher
Co-Author of "Tuvia Finds His Freedom"

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