The Mount Newton Centre Health Equipment Lending Program, better known as the “Loan Cupboard” has been supporting people on the Saanich Peninsula by providing health equipment to those who need it.

Individuals can borrow equipment on a short term basis, for up to three months, to help them recuperate from surgery or to keep them safe at home.

The only cost is a donation.

“There’s certain pieces of equipment that the doctors or nurses or OTs and physios like you to have,” says Linda Dolphin, is the co-ordinator for the Loan Cupboard.

“So they check it off, call us or fax it in, and then we get it all ready, or, of course, they just walk in off the street… a lot of people don’t want to make the expense of buying the equipment, so you just borrow it for three months, and then that way, if they know they need it long term, they go out and buy it.”

It was three women connected with Saanich Peninsula Hospital who started the Loan Cupboard in 1978.

“They were very upset to realize that the patients were being sent home without home support, or the equipment that they needed to make a recuperation,” says Brenda Harfield, Mount Newton Centre Volunteer Board Secretary.  “And they started out with two used wheelchairs, and a few pairs of wooden crutches.”

Now, more than 40-years later, the Loan Cupboard has equipment to help patients with all kinds of injuries.

“We loan out everything from hospital beds to recliners,” says Dolphin. “We’ve got the crutches and walkers and wheelchairs, we’ve got all the bathroom equipment, everything that you absolutely need to stay at home.”

On the day of CHEK’S visit, David Wilson was picking up a walker from the Loan Cupboard.

“My wife has now used the Loan Cupboard twice.  It means that we haven’t had to go out and buy equipment, which can be expensive, and it also means that we have equipment that is safe and well-maintained, and is available when you need it.  I can’t tell you how much this program benefits people in the community! If you don’t know about it, please look at their website!

So how is the Loan Cupboard funded?

“This Loan Cupboard that you see today gets absolutely no government funding” says Harfield.  “It’s all done by donations for the equipment, and then when there’s too much equipment here, or it’s no longer suitable for use here, we pack it up and it’s sent to The Compassionate Warehouse, and it goes to developing countries.”

Over the years, health services from more than 32 countries have visited Mount Newton Centre to learn how the Loan Cupboard operates.

“And it’s been emulated around the world, so we’re quite proud of what we’ve accomplished at Mount Newton” Harfield adds.

Veronica Cooper