A Masterton-based business is transforming the lives of the disabled, designing affordable custom fashions and home aids that enable the elderly, sick and injured to be more independent and to live with dignity.
Heaven Sent Products make home aid accessories and devices like catheter bag covers and scooter bags, but they also design custom-made fashion clothing for people with restricted mobility due to illness or injury.
Owner and designer of Heaven Sent Products, Isabella Richards, said she knows too well the challenges that come with assisted living and home care, having cared for her late husband who died of cancer, nursed her own mother through many medical challenges, and nursed herself through numerous sports injuries.
"Our mobility aids, accessories, and adaptive clothing make a huge difference in the quality of life for each person's comfort and independence. It's about living in comfort with dignity."
The clothing range includes easy-wear crossover dresses, nightgowns, dresses designed for people in wheelchairs, and velcro dress shirts with false buttons for people who have difficulty putting on button-up shirts.
"If you look better, you feel better. And this is not just about the patient. It's about the caregiver too.
"For me, I spent a long time as a personal caregiver, and it is important that the products are easy and quick-dressing for the caregiver or whoever is assisting the person with a disability."
Ms Richards, who moved from South Africa to New Zealand in 2009, said she spent six years researching different disabilities to design the most efficient products and clothing for the business which is "going to full market now".
"It has been a long research process," she said. "It's not just an overnight thing. You've got to look at pressure points of a person, how they sit, stand, move. Our products cater for assisted dressing, while still allowing for independent living."
Heaven Sent Products marketing and sales consultant Sandie Langridge said the next step for the business is to build relationships with rest homes and members of the community who will benefit from their products. Her husband has multiple sclerosis.
"The need for dignity doesn't just stop when you have a disability, or a condition, or reach a certain age," she said.
"Dignity is a part of who you are and I think society needs to get that. We are an ageing population and there's a lot that comes with that. It's not just about medical care, it's about retaining the whole person. And just because you have a disability doesn't mean you need to look like it."