Equipment Resource Lists
One of the most frustrating parts of my job is being able to get the items the families I work with need when insurance won't cover it or the family can't afford it. Sometimes families need pieces of equipment to help their child be more mobile. Other times it could be something as simple as a knob puzzle or a simple shape sorter to work on fine motor and eye/hand coordination skills. When I can I purchase the smaller items.
Occasionally we might have a stander or a walker that a family is no longer using and they have given to us to share with families who may need it. More often than not though we just don't have the resources to help. I'm sure we are not the only ones who face this struggle.
Here in Connecticut we are lucky that we have a place called NEAT (New England Assisted Technology Resource and Education center) in Hartford. NEAT offers a service for Birth-to-Three providers that allows them to borrow pieces of equipment families may need. The equipment has been donated to NEAT by families who no longer need it. I have borrowed wheelchairs, standers, bath seats, and even corner chairs. If the family still needs it after they are exited from Birth-to-Three they just need to give NEAT their name, number, and address so NEAT can keep track of where the equipment is. Once the family no longer needs it they are asked to return it to NEAT. NEAT will even send over a van to drop off/pick up the equipment. I do not know if other states offer something similar. If you have a location like NEAT in your town please let me know so I can share it here.
Another place to look is Facebook. Special Needs Gently Used Medical Equipment For Sale is one group where you can list or look for items ranging from eye glass frames to tumblers to car seats and wheelchair adapted vans. It is a "closed group" so you do have to request to join it. Another similar page for Canadian families is Zachslist Pediatric Equipment Exchange. Both groups offer a chance for its members to post items they are trying to get rid of or that they are ISO (In Search Of).
There are also numerous "mom's groups" which are more localized to the area where the mom's live. A simple search using the terms "moms" and where you are located will help you to find a group in your area. These groups will not just offer items for sale or items being searched for but they will often also offer support for families who may need it.
Outside of Facebook there is always Craigslist and I know quite a few people who have success finding things they need on there but I wouldn't feel right if I didn't tell you to be careful. As useful as Craigslist might be there are numerous stories of people who have been ripped off when responding to an add. If you are going to answer a listing here please use caution and never, ever go alone to pick something up or drop something off. There are good and decent people out there but there are also people who will try to scam you.
Another site I have used frequently is the Backpage.com site. Once again you can search by location and then narrow the search by what it is you are looking for. I have also heard quite a few families have had success using Freecycle websites. With Freecycle you have to become a member and then you can search for free items that others are giving away. This site is not just limited to pediatric equipment and toys. There are listings for everything and anything on here so it can be overwhelming at times when you are looking for something. A couple other web sites are:
Rehab Equipment Exchange - a website that lists programs that are available in each state that loan out rehab equipment or that allow people to buy, sell, exchange rehab equipment. The list may not be complete but it does have a decent amount of programs listed.
Buy and Sell Used Home Medical Equipment - you can search the site by zip code and look for items within a certain radius of where you live.
Equipment can be expensive and just like clothing and shoes, children may outgrow the equipment quickly. Being able to find a place to purchase the equipment at a less expensive price or, better yet, borrow it, can be financially helpful to the families we work with. If you know of any other sites that would be useful to the families we work with please let me know about them and I will share them here.