Over the last several years I've been dealing with various stages of disability thanks to ALS. My goal is to share solutions and review various products/tools/devices that I have found particularly helpful.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Accessible Plates

One of the projects I've been working on for some time with my occupational therapist was to find some decent plates that worked well for me. This has, surprisingly been far more difficult than one would've expected.

Stay still dammit! I'm trying to eat!
Sure, there is an entire world of disability/accessible plates and bowls. But finding good ones that I liked was not easy. Most of what's out there is either small, made of plastic or not that beneficial and really makes me feel disabled. I still have a very healthy appetite and eat a large portion, so small plates don't work for me. Plastic plates are light and the slide all over the place and I already have enough problems trying to get food in my face. I don't need to chase it down anymore than I already do.

Probably about a year ago when we first started looking at better plates and bowls for me, my occupational therapist gave me a couple samples to try. One that particularly liked was steelite plate. So after using this plate for a few months and having increasing difficulties with regular plates, I decided that I would like to get some more of these plates rather than just one. I asked my occupational therapist for more.She told me that the only had one on hand, and couldn't remember where it came from. Nonetheless I said these are the ones I wanted.

Over the course of several months I was repeatedly told that she was unable to find them and that they were likely discontinued. So one day about two months ago she when asked about the progress on the plates, she explains this again and she says that she will keep looking on her side but that I could also go try a few stores but that she would need a moment to call one of her colleagues to get the names of the stores.

"No problem I say" after all I expect the names of specialty.

She makes a phone call to her coworker speech from in order to and comes back with a list of stores. I wait patiently while she's on the phone, she comes back with:  Bowering, Sears, the Bay, the linen chest, Stokes and of course… Canadian tire. Yes, you read that right. A list of the most common places to buy plates in Canada, possibly even North America.

While I stare at her for a moment completely dumbfounded she grabs a piece of paper and proceeds to write the stores down for me. Okay, now she's insulting my intelligence. I honestly felt like I'd walked into a specialty bookstore asked for the first edition copy of Don Quixote and the reply is "have you tried the public library?" I come to see these experts in the hopes that they have access to resources that I do not have in order to expedite the process in acquiring the adaptations and devices that they need.

Not to mention that having ALS means I don't have the mobility, energy nor time to race all over town to track this down myself. It was my understanding that's why we have an occupational therapist as rehabilitation facility.

AAAAAANYWAY… Enough venting about that.

This frustration sent me on an intranet quest. Through the appropriate use of Google I was able to quickly find a few suppliers. The first ones were unfortunately all in the UK and Europe. They were willing to ship to me in order, but because of the distances involved the order would've had to be a little larger than I had hoped and the shipping costs were, well. Expensive. Here's a couple of the links I found:
Through a few more manipulations of Google, I contacted the North American steelite supplier, a gentleman named Gary who was extremely kind and helpful. They went on to explain that these plates are not available through the distributor as individual units. However they can be ordered by the case. It turns out a case is not terribly unreasonable, especially if you can share the order with someone. The plates come in two sizes. 8 1/2 inch and 10 a quarter inch.

Through discussions with the distributor, here's what I was able to acquire:

What I particularly like about these plates is that they are ceramic like any other plate. Because of this I don't feel like I'm using specialty plates that often. They're heavy and durable. From what I understand they were actually intended for old age homes. They have a nice gently curved been raised age that's not too high and works very well for helping push the food back onto your fork or spoon.

At first, I wasn't sure I'd find a whole bunch of benefit to having plates of different sizes. But I actually do. Some meals are much easier to manage and the smaller plate. For example when eating pasta, I'm less likely to drag my knock on us through my food to push up against the far side of the plate.

Also, one of the great things about having plates of different sizes and colors like this is a help immensely with our coping strategy for a three-year-old son. From time to time we take one of the smaller plates for him two years so he can now have a big boy plate "just like dad" we are hoping to take some of the fear out of the situation with this. He is old enough that he starting to ask about questions.

The coffee mug is a great idea as well, having handles on both sides. It weighs about the same as any other coffee cup, but unfortunately due to the specifics of how my hands are starting to flatten out and deform this cup is proving not be as beneficial as I had hoped. I will say however it is easier for me to transfer coffee from the kitchen to where I sit. Unfortunately it's not really much easier to drink from for me. Mind you that's about the same for any cup these days, I'm having to use a straw a lot.
Yup! Great product.

On the whole, I'm very pleased with these plates and the cup. They're the best thing I found for me to date. There are little bit hard to come by, but worth the effort. You can contact the gentleman who helped me here Gary gbennington@steelite-canada.com or you can go through their corporate site which is where I started.

You can view the whole line of the Rio steelite products here in their brochure.

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