PRERNA THAPAR: Addressing Mobility and Accessibility Needs of The Community By Gary Thandi

Prerna Thapar graduated as an Occupational Therapist in India, and spent several years in India, mostly in Mumbai and Delhi, working as an Occupational Therapist. Occupational Therapists help people with any kind of disability gain independence back into various roles they previously played in their lives, i.e., returning to work. She worked directly with patients, doctors as well as leading teams of other Occupational Therapists. Prerna also frequently consulted with community-based organizations, helping them to understand the needs of children, youth, and adults who live with disabilities and thus may learn/process information differently. “I find they are differently abled, not disabled,” she notes, and that accommodations can help to maximize their abilities and potential, which may otherwise go unnoticed.

When Prerna moved to Canada in 2016, she was able to translate her prior education and skills into her current profession, as a Seating and Mobility Consultant with HME Mobility and Accessibility. HME Mobility and Accessibility began nearly twenty-five years ago as a local medical equipment rental company and has grown to become one of the largest independent dealers of Mobility and Home Medical Equipment in the region.

HME Mobility and Accessibility is 100 percent Canadian-owned and operated. With over 60 staff, HME Mobility and Accessibility is a go-to source for Rehab Sales and Consultations, Stairlifts, and Home Modifications. HME offers its customers high quality, durable products they can rely on and customer service that is unmatched within the industry. “We have products for sale, as well as offer rentals,” Prerna advises. “We provide products that are of the highest quality and meet government standards. To name just some, we offer wheelchairs, power wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, stairlifts, track lift systems for when someone is bedridden, hospital beds, bath rails, pediatric equipment, vehicle lifts, cushions. And we can do a free assessment in the home, to determine what types of products and modifications can be made within and outside the home to address a client’s mobility and accessibility needs.”

Prerna advises that anyone who has mobility and accessibility issues should take the time to learn about the various products that may be available to them. Furthermore, there may be funding available through government ministries, and/or through one’s extended health benefits. Sometimes charities are also able to help to cover some or all of the costs of equipment. “We have contracts with MS Society, ALS Society, we basically work with such societies to address the needs of the communities they represent,” Prerna advises. Often the family doctors will be the first point of contact to determine if there is a health-related need around mobility and accessibility. “We also work closely with therapists, who have worked with clients to determine what is needed,” she adds.

Prerna’s background as an Occupational Therapist very much informs her work as a Seating and Mobility Consultant. “I do accessibility assessments frequently. I will look at what the customer’s needs are, and then consider products and modifications that will meet their needs not just today but also in the long-term. We can often use trial equipment with a client so that they can experience how the machine works and receive feedback on what works well and what may need to be adjusted.  We leave it with the client, to make sure that it is appropriate. If adjustments are required, we can typically do that.”

HME Mobility and Accessibility has offices in Victoria, Richmond, and South Surrey, and their website is HME Mobility, and Access have a toll-free number as well: 1-844-821-0075. With over 18,000 SF Warehouse and 2,000 SF showroom, HME’s Richmond location offers the largest home mobility warehouse in all of BC.