Therapy Focus, Rocky Bay, The Centre for Cerebral Palsy and Disability Services Commission are working in partnership on a pilot program that increases the availability of low-cost equipment for people with disabilities.
According to CAEP Refurbishment Centre (CRC) manager Valerie Ford, tracking equipment before and after it was refurbished had become a significant challenge.
“A lot of good equipment that was suitable for children with disabilities or who were unwell was not being utilised,” she said.
“My initial challenge was to develop a database of all the equipment available so as to establish a clear inventory of everything we had.
“Once a clear picture of the assets was obtained I was able to ensure that if they were in the right condition, they could be offered to therapists as a lower cost alternative to buying them new.”
WA-based Community Aids and Equipment Program (CAEP) receives equipment from each of the above-mentioned organisations, refurbishes it to as-new condition and pools it for re-use. Being a self-funded community service, an efficient and comprehensive asset tracking system was identified as fundamental to its economic sustainability.
Hardcat is an asset management solution that provides comprehensive tracking and reporting of every aspect of an asset’s lifecycle. Hardcat reseller, Asset Track Australia, developed a customised solution for CAEP that allows all its pooled assets – refurbished and un-refurbished – to be accurately tracked.
The system controls the core CAEP register, detailing all the specifications therapists require when determining an appropriate piece of equipment for their clients. Hardcat’s Web interface is the vehicle through which therapists can view equipment for sale, or enquire about other equipment that might be suitable for a client’s specific needs.
According to Ford, Hardcat was the solution that best suited CAEP’s requirements.
“Everything that comes in now is given an asset number with a temporary tag and when any necessary refurbishment is completed, a barcode label is attached to it,” she said.
All assets identified in the Hardcat system are tracked through their full lifecycle. Any actions are recorded by date to provide a full history of what has happened to each piece of equipment, with all information uploaded to the Hardcat Web interface. Each asset can be tracked internally by CAEP while a secure log-in for registered third parties provides all relevant details to therapists and organisations supplying children with disabilities.
“One of the reasons we selected Hardcat was that we needed the ability to bring an item back into the system after it had been sold,” Ford said.
“Most asset databases will not let you do that. For example, if we refurbish a wheelchair it may go to a child and then be returned to us when the child outgrows it.
"All we have to do is scan it back into the system, after which it can go through the whole process again with every action logged in the asset record.”
Along with a piece of equipment’s refurbishment history, CAEP can also add pictures so that interested purchasers can see exactly what a particular wheelchair — or hoist or whatever — actually looks like.
Arguably the greatest single benefit to have emerged from the Hardcat solution is that it has enabled therapists to accelerate delivery of the right equipment to people who most need it, sometimes at half the price it would be new. Further, because the tracking system identifies what equipment is available at any given time in the pilot project, it can be delivered more rapidly to end-users than items that are frequently manufactured overseas.
“From a community service point of view, you can’t really put a price on that,” Ford said.
"It also means that in alignment with our four partners we can all grow from the benefits of recycling. In fact, after we had the warehouse up and running and asset tracking processes in place, we undertook an exercise to measure savings from July 2010 to February 2011. Over that period, the four organisations saved $147,000, which represented a great return on investment for us."