A Lower Mainland charity which connects sellers of no longer needed medical equipment with buyers has expanded into the northwest.
AssistList makes the connection via a website featuring photos and descriptions of equipment either for sale or for donation.
Its expansion to the northwest late last year came via the Terrace Hospice Society.
Society vice chair Diana Wood, who is also its office manager in Terrace, attributes AssistList’s arrival in the northwest to society executive director Sue Skeates.
“She heard about it and just thought it would be a really good service for the north,” said Wood.
“New equipment can be so expensive.”
At the same time, Wood said people living in smaller and more remote communities in the northwest often do not have the benefit or advantage of services available elsewhere in the province.
Wood said Skeates had to be persistent in pursuing the volunteers behind AssistList to consider the northwest.
“It took some convincing,” she said of persuading AssistList to expand out of the Lower Mainland for the first time.
“There was some concern [about travelling distance] but we said people living in the north have no trouble driving even a 100 miles for coffee,” Wood said.
“Driving that distance to buy something would not be out of line.”
The prospect of a marketplace for medical equipment also fit in with the Terrace Hospice Society’s mandate of offering assistance through trained volunteers to the families of people with terminal illnesses and to the caregivers who look after them.
And because the society’s outreach area ranges from Haida Gwaii in the west, north to Stewart and further north to Telegraph Creek and east as far as Houston, it made sense that AssistList would include all of the same area, said Wood.
Those wishing to use the AssistList website communicate by creating an account.
In the lower mainland exchanges between buyers and sellers take place at locations called community exchange zones, typically places that offer neighbourhood services.
Those aren’t yet available in the northwest but Wood said the society is confident buyers and sellers can make safe arrangements for exchanges.
The idea for AssistList goes back to 2013 when Vancouver-based occupational therapist Kevin Chow began thinking of a way to assist people who require equipment by connecting them with those who no longer need it.
Chow began gathering individuals, all volunteers, who also understood the need and the idea of an online exchange took hold when the AssistList website went live in February 2018.
Although AssistList concentrated on growing within the Lower Mainland, it soon came to the attention of others elsewhere.
“The common theme that has been pressed on to us is not to look at the community population as a major determining factor, but to understand that communities in the rural [areas] have the same equipment needs as anyone and that in fact these individuals can be even more reliant on technology to communicate and stay connected,” Chow said.
That the northwest is the first region outside of the lower mainland to be serviced by AssistList grew out of what Chow calls the passion and dedication of northwestern residents.
“At the end of the day, it is community members and volunteers that have brought AssistList [to the northwest],” he said.
More information is available at www.assistlist.ca.