Maria’s Website: Stay At Home Solutions
Sarah: You’re Listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. A podcast that explores the interaction between people, design, and activity. Good Fit Poor Fit is part of The Universal Design Project, a nonprofit organization with a vision for every community across the USA to have a surplus of homes and opportunities for social participation that are universally and financially accessible.
[00:00:23] Learn more at universaldesign.org.
[00:00:27] Lauren: Hello listeners. Welcome back for yet another great episode in our series, UD and Me. Today, we’ll be introducing you to Maria Lindbergh, who is a fellow OT, one of our trustee design advisors and has her own business called Stay at Home Solutions in Kansas City, Missouri.
[00:00:46] I know she has worked hard in doing lots of blogging on home design and safety and created an educational series about one of those important, yet not really talked about tasks of toileting, aka wiping your booty. I’ll link her site in the show notes, but welcome Maria, and feel free to share a little bit more about yourself to our listeners.
[00:01:05] Maria: Thank you so very much for having me. I’ve been a fan of Good Fit, Poor Fit for a while. So I’m incredibly honored to be here today. Thank you for the great introduction. I am an occupational therapist. I started out my career working in nursing facilities, long-term care and then I saw the need for people, who would go home after rehab. and they were not set up successfully in their home to take care of themselves independently. So that is why I started my business doing home modifications in the community. But now, lately, I’m focusing more on online education. So thank you for bringing up. Yes, I do have a course, it’s called Hard Time Wiping, Let’s Talk A-Booty It. We just talk about different toilet techniques and actually four main essential different options, to clean up easier after going to the bathroom, so that does focus on making changes in your home. It also does use some universal design principles. So I’m so glad to be here and talk to you guys about that.
[00:02:15] Sally: Awesome. So it sounds like your experiences as an occupational therapist in skilled nursing facilities is kind of what opened your eyes to the world of home modifications and even universal design within the home. But was there a certain experience or time you want to share that made you think that you wanted to get more into this work, because this is actually kind of a niche area, in terms of occupational therapy.
[00:02:44]So if you want to share a little bit more about that, that would be great.
[00:02:47] Maria: Yes, absolutely. I went to The University of Kansas Medical Center and one of my professors was Dr. Dori Sabata. If you’re an occupational therapist, there’s different specialty board certifications you can pursue, one of them is on environmental modifications. So she was basically the person I first saw who did something like that with her occupational therapy career. She had also taken us to a home renovations company in the area in Kansas City and they had a showroom that had different products and different features on things that they could do to help people live in place for a lifetime. So the showroom had a different kitchen set up with pull-down shelving and they had shown what a walk-in shower, you know, barrier free shower would look like, so that was my first taste of it. And then part two of that, while I was in school for occupational therapy, I had worked for a nonprofit in the area called Minds Matter and it’s actually in the Kansas side. Kansas is the only state in the U.S. that has a traumatic brain injury waiver. So the state will provide additional funds for people with traumatic brain injury to live at home instead of living in facilities, right?
[00:04:13] Everyone’s so much happier at home, it’s so much cheaper for people to live at home. So Kansas is unique in that. I worked for them and I was assisting people with pursuing things that they were interested in doing.
[00:04:26] So it wasn’t as an occupational therapist, it was more kind of like an assistant role to whatever their therapy goals were. I had people who had traumatic brain injuries, maybe there were wheelchair users, maybe, you know there was something else involved with getting out in the community or something that affected how they lived in their home. So when I was taking people out and I had a client who I loved, he had a power wheelchair and so him and his partner had done a lot of modifications to the home to make it accessible for him to move around in his power wheelchair. They also had a van that we could easily use to transport him around the city and he loved going out to art galleries. He loved going out to bars and restaurants. We just like to go out and have fun. And so that really opened my eyes as to, oh my gosh, even though he’s in this power wheelchair and getting around on his own, there still quite a few obstacles everywhere we wanted to go that made it so difficult for him.
[00:05:35] So, long story short, that’s what really got me into the home modifications, universal design, accessibility kind of realm.
[00:05:44] Lauren: That’s so interesting and such a cool background story as well. I like that you brought up working with a client that was going out in the community. That kind of leads into our next question.
[00:05:54] We were wondering if you could share a universal design space, product, design, or feature, that’s not necessarily home-related that really speaks to you.
[00:06:03] Maria: Yes, absolutely. This was a hard one to narrow down. I’m sure everybody comes in here and talks about, because there are so many features and products and oh my gosh, what a world, but something that I thought really helps quite a few people is having automated doors in places. So it made me think about when I was helping that client in the community. He was really so dependent. We like to go into a hole in the wall, places, these just obscure places. If you go into a hole in the wall bar, you’re not going to expect to see an automated door.
[00:06:39] It may be this door that’s difficult to pull open or push in – the threshold – there’s probably going to be a step or something like that that makes it so difficult to get inside. Having an automatic door for my client to be able to go in and leave whenever he wanted to – not having to wait for somebody.
[00:06:59] He was really funny and sometimes we like to race each other and try to get to the door first. And if he beats me he had to wait for me to go inside the door. I’m a parent of a young child, and sometimes I use a stroller to take my kiddo around if she’ll let me strap her in for a sec.
[00:07:20] But having an automatic door open and close. Oh my gosh. What a backsaver. I’ve also worked with other clients who were manual wheelchair users and they sometimes would get tired and they would ask for my help to get them through a door. So that can be incredibly difficult too on caregivers, it can be really hard on the back to try and prop a door open while you’re trying to help somebody navigate through a doorway and not hurt them, bruise their arms or anything and not hurt yourself in the process. So yeah, automatic doors for the win.
[00:07:59] Sally: Yeah, I think that’s a great one. Doors can be tricky for anyone, disability or not. I think we’ve all had the experience of pulling a door that’s meant to be pushed or struggling with a heavy door, especially when carrying things like groceries or young children. So that’s definitely a great one to bring up and I don’t think one that we’ve mentioned a lot on this podcast, so thank you for that, Maria. Now that we know about your favorite non-home-related universal design, would you please tell us about your favorite home-related universally designed space, product, design, or feature?
[00:08:36] Maria: Yeah, I was so worried somebody would talk about automatic doors. I’m really glad they haven’t yet. When I think about the home, again, oh my gosh, so hard to pick just one. So I’m working PRN and acute care still and working with a whole different range of clients, whether it’s orthopedic – with the back, shoulder, hips, knees; whether it’s people with progressive diseases like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis or dementia, there are so many times that it’s appropriate for people to use a bidet seat. I love bidet seats so much for everybody, maybe not super young children, but really anybody, regardless of ability or if you’re injured or have an illness. Anybody could benefit from having a bidet seat. Its just so much easier to thoroughly clean your bottom after you have a bowel movement. Despite your weight, your size, how much pain you have, it doesn’t matter, the bidet seat is there for you, no matter what. The price point nowadays, especially after the pandemic, is so much more affordable and there’s so many different models and types and mounted controls and remote controls; just so many different features that can be found in the bidet seats for a wide variety of users. I just love them so much, not to mention they are so easy to install. As long as it’s not one that requires a GFCI outlet, not everyone has one of those next to the toilet.
[00:10:12] I have this bare bones version and it doesn’t require electricity. It was so easy for us to slap it on the toilet. I super wish I had it when I was pregnant because, oh my goodness, I just felt like a total block. I could barely twist my back or do anything like that. It was not fun.
[00:10:33] So having a bidet seat for all kinds of seasons in your life is such a good thing to have in mind. So good for such a wide variety of users.
[00:10:42] Lauren: That is such a great element you brought up. I know you and Sally could discuss that one for awhile. She’s also a fan of the bidet seats. I lived abroad for a little bit and in our house in Germany, we had a bidet, which is super cool. I was too young to want to or know how to use it, but I think it’s something you don’t realize how useful it can be until you have one in your own house.
[00:11:04] So since we have you here today, and you’re a business owner and occupational therapist and a previous caretaker of your grandparents, is there any other insight or thought you’d like to leave with our listeners today?
[00:11:17] Maria: Oh, my gosh. That’s so hard. There’s so much to talk about. That’s why I appreciate this podcast and Universal Design Project so much because you guys you talk about it all. Just a little seed that I love to plant in everyone’s mind is no matter your age, it’s so good to consider putting in universal design features or make your house more accessible, not only for yourself to live in, but also for your family members and friends who come over.
[00:11:49] I know for my house, it does have some features that are great for my family, but there’s always so much to be done, especially when it comes to visitability. I really am looking forward to putting in a zero step entry someday so that I don’t have to worry about anybody having any trouble getting in and out of my house.
[00:12:09] It doesn’t matter how old you are whatsoever. Like I mentioned, shoot I was pregnant and I was like, dang, there’s some changes in the house we could do to make my life a little easier. I wish we all had those crystal balls and we could see what our future would bring, but none of us are immune from injury or illness and stuff happens. So its really good to start thinking about what changes can I make to my house so that no matter what happens in my life, I can live in my own home safely and independently.
[00:12:40] Lauren: Yes. What a great point to bring up to wrap us up today. Visitability is actually a stepping stone, a point that I was researching when and how I came across the Universal Design Project.
[00:12:52] I think it is such an important topic because it’s hard for people to wrap their brain around the thought of just because they’re young and healthy now, that’s just not always going to be the case. Even for me, it’s like, well, I’ll just buy a starter home, I know I won’t be there for long and hopefully nothing will happen in that time period that I live there.
[00:13:11] But who’s to say, I won’t want my grandparents to come over or a friend who has a disability. So visitability is a really cool concept for all housing.
[00:13:20] Thank you so much for joining us today, Maria and for sharing your insights and perspectives with us. I know I enjoyed learning from you today so much and learning more about your company, Stay at Home Solutions. Again, we’ll link your website in our show notes, so listeners, don’t forget to check that out. Thank you again, Maria. Listeners, we hope you enjoyed meeting another one of our great team members and we’ll talk to you all again soon. Have a great day.
[00:13:48] Sarah: Thanks for listening to Good Fit Poor Fit. I’m your host Sarah Pruett, Program Director and Occupational Therapist at The Universal Design Project. Learn more about our work at universaldesign.org, and find more episodes and links to subscribe at goodfitpoorfit.com If you have questions or topics you’d like to discuss, email us at [email protected]
[00:14:15] Thanks for fitting us into your day!