A unique partnership in South Dakota makes living at home possible for veterans with disabilities.
DakotaLink (the AT Act Program in South Dakota) has maintained a steady stream of referrals during the pandemic for a program it runs with the Veterans Administration (VA). DakotaLink assists veterans with paralysis and other disabilities to leave hospitals and long-term care facilities by installing ceiling-mounted track systems in private homes.
Program Director Page Hudson says DakotaLink has played an important role in moving veterans out of COVID-19-vulnerable environments to home where they can both socially isolate and gain independence. With these systems, veterans with disabilities independently transfer from bed to wherever they want to go in their house.
“The ceiling-mounted track systems are like an upside-down remote-controlled railway,” he explains. The user can independently bring the lift to them. “It’s pretty clever. It has thigh and arm supports that lift the user from a seated or prone position. They can then go forward and backward on the track, and there’s even a switch to change tracks for heading in another direction.”
Last fall, a veteran moved to his home in Sioux Falls with this DakotaLink assistance. He can
now independently go from bed to the toilet and to the shower. Hudson says this veteran would not be living at home without attendant care and this system in place, a safer alternative to the VA.
The VA pays for the lift systems, and DakotaLink performs the home assessments and installations. DakotaLink provided 70 veterans with this service over the last year.
“People want to be home even more so now than they ever did. And they don’t want to stay in the hospital when they can live independently,” Hudson says.