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Weekly reuse tips are brought to you by Oklahoma ABLE Tech, the Pass It On Center, and the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs (ATAP). Each week Oklahoma ABLE Tech will highlight tips designed to aid state and local communities with durable medical equipment and assistive technology reutilization.
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Devise written procedures based on sound medical or scientific practice for sanitizing equipment to protect both workers and new users.
Develop written policies specifying the categories of devices that will or will not be accepted for donation, and methods to communicate the policies of prospective donors. This information can be posted in the facility, on the website, and included on a brochure. For ease of sharing, Project MEND (San Antonio) uses a business card with the needed devices on the front and information about dropping off donations or requesting services on the back. (A sample image of the card can be found in the Knowledge Base.)
Devise procedures to track device recalls, market withdrawals and safety alerts and to identify and contact individuals who received devices from the program that are affected by such notices. Assistive Technology for Kansans suggests putting this responsibility into someone's job description. The procedure should include:
An accurate and efficient method to track the inventory of available devices is important. This includes written policies and procedures and software capable of:
The specially-designed systems from AgoraNet and AT4All are widely used, but other programs use Quick Books or the built-in inventory reporting of 3dcart, an online store system for programs that refurbish and sell devices on the Internet.
A wealth of information and ideas from program leaders and speakers from all over the country is available for reference and use or reuse. Presentations from regional or national conferences are in the Knowledge Base under "National Conferences." Travel funds may be limited, but the presentations from ATIA Conferences and Reuse Conferences are available for viewing. (Please remember to credit the original source in your presentation.)
Smart organization and adequate space is essential for programs to conduct the chosen AT reuse activities. Consider:
Create a safe and secure workplace for employees, contractors, and volunteers and a secure place for customers. This depends on planning, policies, procedures, and training. Identify work areas that are not accessible to customers, secure storage for chemicals and tools, and appropriate safety training for each worker. Even if not required by law to do so, conduct regular drills for fire, weather, and other emergency evacuation circumstances.
Set an example for accessibility by ensuring that the program's facility is physically accessible for employees, contractors, volunteers, and customers. It should:
The program measures output by number of devices distributed, number of devices donated, and number of customers served. Survey participants to determine outcomes: how they use the device they received from the program to participate in work, education or daily living, and the level of satisfaction with devices and services.
Every program needs a comprehensive marketing plan to acquire and sustain community support. The plan should identify target audiences and use the most cost-effective means for reaching those audiences.
Search for the related topic in the Knowledge Base. Programs all over the country have generously donated all types of documents (nearly 600 so far) for reuse. The examples are attached to "articles." Download the file and use to make a customized version.
Nearly all successful AT reuse programs have partners: nonprofit reuse programs, Centers for Independent Living, and other agencies. They network with healthcare organizations, commercial suppliers, and civic groups. Identify every group that is supportive (or could be persuaded to be supportive) of reuse in the community. Sharing extends the reach of limited resources.
Multiple small streams of dependable income contribute to sustainability. Be wary of hosting large events that require significant investments of time and money. Here are ideas from programs:
Pursue strategies to sustain the program for the long term, and continue to improve and expand its services. The strategy should be documented in a written plan that addresses diversification of sources of income, strategies for enhancing community support, retention of employees and volunteers, and succession planning for program leadership. Make it a group effort by involving employees and key supporters in developing the plan. Use the IQ-ATR Online Program Assessment Tool in a group exercise to jump-start discussion of needs and opportunities. Watch videos for sustainability ideas from other program leaders.