Up until recently, Judy McKay had lifted her daughters Brittany and Jessie from wheelchair to bed to bath every day for their entire lives.
The McKay sisters both have a global delay, which means a delay in all areas of development that is often caused by a disorder before or near the time of birth. The girls have tethered spinal cords, severe osteoporosis, cataracts, and glaucoma and are non-communicative.
Brittany, almost 15, is able to crawl, but Jessie, just over 10, needs complete support. When they were small transporting them wasn’t hard. As they grew older and heavier, however, (both now weigh more than 55 lbs.) it became not only more difficult, but also potentially dangerous, particularly since both Brittany and Jessie suffer from severe osteoporosis.
Even the smallest stumble might have had serious consequences. “It was at the point where we were putting ourselves and the girls at risk,” says Judy McKay.
So in 2004, realizing something needed to be done, the McKays called the Home & Vehicle Modification Program of Ontario March of Dimes, which helps fund important alterations to vehicles and living spaces for Ontarians with disabilities.
The timing couldn’t have been better for the McKays. In June 2004 the program, which is funded by the Ontario government, received a $10 million budget increase, and consequently expanded its services to include modifications to help children for the very first time.
Brittany and Jessie – who previously were not eligible – were the first children to receive funding through the program. It helped the family acquire a ceiling track lift system and other modifications that made moving the girls easier and safer.
Construction involved removing two walls between the girls’ playroom and bedroom, having the floor reinforced, and constructing a new entrance to the bathroom. The ceiling track system runs continuously from the bedroom through the playroom and into the bathroom.
"It is wonderful," says Judy McKay. "The lift system has made a big difference. It makes it safer not only for myself, but for the girls as well."
Find out more about the Home & Vehicle Modification Program.