A family would spend up to two hours a day transferring their adult daughter between positions. The Kera sit2sit lifter from HT Systems took that down to under 20 minutes. An eight-year-girl calls her Kera her “horsey” and Mum or Dad can now move her on their own. There’s no waiting for a caregiver to help this husband care for his wife.
HT Systems is an engineering technology company that develops solutions to help people with disabilities. CEO Richard Shepherd and his team have refined a lifting device pioneered by Professor Keith Alexander, bringing it to market in July 2019.
Typical transfer equipment requires two people to help lift someone young or old which presents obvious obstacles. Nothing can happen until there are two people to help lift, and then they must stay to do it many more times each day. And there’s also the risk to both carer and patient during the lifting process. Now, with Kera, there’s a low force option, meaning anyone can use it to move an adult or a child.
Inventor Professor Keith Alexander and his wife Faith demonstrating the Kera sit2sit lifter
“Kera was designed for care facilities, but we’ve found there’s more need for it in the community, particularly during COVID-19 lockdowns when people were limiting contact outside their immediate families,” says Shepherd.
“Kera makes the caregiver’s job easier. Patients feel safe and comfortable, as they’re fully supported. Kera offers them better independence and mobility with a transfer system that preserves their dignity, treats them with respect and improves their quality of life.”
The patient lifter story began over 20 years ago. Burwood Hospital’s Chief Surgeon approached the University of Canterbury’s Mechanical Engineering Department. He was concerned about the prevalence of injuries related to lifting mobility-compromised patients.
Working alongside students, Professor Alexander learned that rolling a seated patient forward at their centre of mass could transfer them from one seated position to another without any need to physically lift them. HT took the concept and created the Kera lifter.
HT is now crowdsourcing funding with the goal of taking Kera to the Australian market and developing another product for launch in 2022. “We are having the Kera tested in Australia to international safety standards and in doing that we can access the global market.”
Kera has already been recognised in New Zealand, winning the Aged Care category in the inaugural HealthTech Supernode Challenge, sponsored by Ryman Healthcare, in 2020 ahead of 128 other entries.
HT has recently team up with Access Unlimited, an Australian company. “A number of our customers said that one of their biggest unsolved issues was getting into the passenger seat of a car. We found the right product at Access and have brought the Alphalift car transfer lifter to New Zealand,” says Shepherd.
Founder Professor Keith Alexander is the man who invented the Springfree Trampoline. He approached the challenge of lifting people between trampolines with similar zest. “Just as I believe that trampolines should be designed to be safe for excited children, I truly believe that effective assistive devices should be readily available to enhance the wellbeing of those without all the capabilities of the young or strong."