At APC we push the limits in what we provide and we like to learn as we go. We are at the forefront of our socket designs, there wouldn’t be many places in Australia that are making subischial sockets for transfemoral amputees, or bikini hip sockets. Our future at APC is to keep innovative. If something is new out there, we jump on board with it, allowing growth for both clients and staff.
It’s good to see staff get involved and grow as individuals in their skill levels, not to just provide their skills in prosthetic prosthesis, but they might take on a role tutoring students, or develop into a senior role helping a new employee, or perhaps take hold of their own clinic for the first time. Whatever it may be, it’s really nice to see the staff grow in themselves and we try to provide them with the opportunities to help them do so. That’s the part of the job I like, being able to assist in people’s development and showing them what potential they have. If everybody takes the best bits, we get better and better.
It’s rewarding going out to clinics and seeing the amount of people at the clinics we attend grow and grow. This says something about our service delivery. We’ve had lots of fun along the way, including driving through floods and fires to get to clinics. A great memory was about 4 years ago when Wingham Hospital was flooded out so we couldn’t reach our clients. We decided to create an impromptu clinic at a car park in a golf club just to make it happen because we knew our clients had travelled a long way to get to us.
One of our great successes is the establishment of an APC clinic in Port Macquarie which was derived from having a lot of clientele coming from the north coast, and we believed it would help with our service if we opened up a clinic closer to them. It’s a 2-day clinic and we travel up and stay overnight. We see clients in the afternoon on the first day and morning on the second day. APC now has 3 branches and we collaborate freely and share experiences. There’s a lot going on with the NDIS, and it’s been great to share our experiences and learn from one another to navigate the NDIS system that little bit easier. The NDIS outcomes for clients has been amazing, for example people are now having access to water limbs so they can travel and shower without carrying water chairs. They can go to the beach or get access to a foot that allows them to walk up hills easier. The NDIS has enabled us to provide better technology than the previous system, so we’ve had better outcomes for clients.
I’ve been in the prosthetics industry for over 25 years and I’ve seen lots of changes over this time. Back in the day we used to make wooden legs with basic componentry as opposed to what we are producing now, which are high tech carbon fibre computer-controlled prosthesis. What has been really interesting in the last few years is the way people use their prosthesis. For upper limb amputees, grip patterns are now easier to change, allowing them to type easier, hold keys to open doors, hold plates, and so much more. For lower limb amputees, the use of an app on a phone allows users to change from walking mode to push bike mode so that the knee swings freely. The control systems are getting easier to use and best suit lifestyles – that’s where the advancements will be.