We love when you guys use sugru to make things work better for friends and family with a disability, it's inspiring to see how modifications big and small make lives easier. Colin from Nottingham sent us a small, but clever hack - this eggholder made from an old potato peeler, it helps his friend who suffers from arthritis to behead his breakfast egg.
Colin mentioned that he is the chairman of the Nottingham panel of REMAP, an organisation that modifies or builds appliances from scratch for people with disabilities. This made us very curious and he was kind enough to give us an interview about his work there.
How would you describe REMAP to someone that has never heard of it before?
REMAP stands for, I believe, Rehabilitation Engineering Mobility Advisory Panel. An alternative interpretation is "Retired Engineers making appliances for people", but we are essentially engineers, mostly retired, making custom built equipment for people with disabilities in order to to help with their quality of life. We don't make equipment that is available off the shelf, but we have been known to modify existing equipment because we all know no two people are alike. We don't charge at all for our services, either labour, travelling or materials so the client has no worries there. You can get a good overview of our work on the website.
How does REMAP work?
Clients are usually referred to us by occupational therapists or others in the caring professions though there is no reason why clients can't approach us by themselves. It is usually better to have input from a healthcare professional, depending on the disability. A representative engineer from the panel will visit and make an assessment, and hopefully we will be able to help. Sometimes a little advice is all thats needed, a different way of looking at the problem, but usually we can agree on a course of action. Most jobs take only a few weeks. We rely on recycled materials in many projects - in order to keep costs low - and on the skill and experience of our engineers. People needing help can contact REMAP or talk to their healthcare professional and mention the organisation.
How did you get involved and how much of your time do you commit to REMAP?
I was reading through a monthly periodical of the Institute of Electrical Engineers and I spotted an article about REMAP. They were looking for volunteers. I wasn't sure if electrical engineers were much use for this, but I had a background in instrumentation and control systems, so I thought some of that might be useful. I got in touch with my local panel and they were glad to have me on board. That was about 15 years ago I suppose, while I was still working. In terms of time, there's a monthly meeting which as chairman I have to attend. It lasts about an hour, but we hold it in a pub, so it can take longer! It also depends on the number of projects that come in: It might take a couple of hours to drive to and assess a job, and the actual job can be anything from minutes to five or six hours. On average I would say I give about ten hours a month to REMAP.
Can you tell us a story about someone you helped?
A fairly recent client was a student with no arms. He had lost them as a child when he fell across live electric cables. He is a remarkable young man who acclomplished everything with his feet or a pair of tweezers he held in his teeth. He wanted some none metal tweezers that were big and strong enough to enable him to pull his trousers up, etc. when he went on long haul flights, so that he wasn't in need of constant attention of flight attendants. We managed to achieve this by using carbon fibre and a lot of ingenuity!
How many members has REMAP Nottingham?
Nottingham has seven members at present, and is one of the smaller panels. Members range from an ex-tree surgeon to a foundry pattern maker, mechanical and electrical engineers, and one chap who works on submarines. Every discipline has something to bring to the table. We are always looking for members. Our panel needs a new secretary and anyone interested in fund raising would be quite welcome! Volunteers can contact me via [email protected].
Thank you, Colin, for the interview! That's hacking things better at it's very best!