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Transport and personal mobility
Posted
#17 (In Topic #16)
Site director

admin2 in the usergroup ‘Administrators’

Personal Mobility

Christine has been a wheelchair user since around 1990.  Like many people with a progressive condition she started before that with one stick, then two, but eventually it became inevitable that if she was to continue working and remaining independent then a wheelchair would be essential.  The temptation to resist this move is enormous and entirely understandable but I'm sad when I see people struggling painfully with sticks or a walking frame when there are alternatives which would actually give much greater mobility, choice and comfort.

Initially Christine found a lightweight wheelchair that she could propel herself but as mobility and strength became increasingly limited, from around since 1993 it was necessary for her to use increasingly sophisticated power chairs, plus a tilt in space manual chair for indoors.  The manual chair was supplied by the NHS and was with us for around 15 years, but to get power chairs of the right quality, we had to buy them.  The Balder (now Etac) wheelchair that she used during the latter part of her life cost around £14,000 new but it was infinitely adjustable and allowed Christine to get to most places indoors and out and to remain safe and comfortable for the long periods necessary in travelling to and from and to attend meetings. For anyone who is likely to spend many hours each day in a wheelchair and then features like tilt in space (the ability to tilt the entire seat rather than just recline the backrest) is absolutely essential, as is a top-quality gel or other seat cushion.

Christine was fortunate in that she was also donated a very good quality outdoor power chair.  We certainly wouldn't have been able to afford this as well is the indoor chair.  Bizarrely, this came via the physiotherapy department at our local hospital who had been left the chair by the family of a patient who had died and it had sat in a cupboard for a year because they had no idea what to do with it!  But it was great to be able to go out for walks over tracks and paths that wouldn't be accessible in a less robust chair.

Cost to ourselves - £20,000 over 15 years

Transport

An active professional and social life requires transport and adapted vehicles cost - sometimes a lot!  Christine initially used an adapted automatic car with hand controls, bought through Motability.  Once she needed wheelchair accessible vehicles we thought it was better value to keep the mobility component of her DLA and buy our own.  There is a lot of choice available both through specialist companies and via the Internet.  Since 1998 Christinehas owned two vehicles (a Chrysler Voyager, and a Brotherwood adapted Fiat Multipla.  Both were 'passenger upfront' design, which made an enormous difference to comfort and enjoyment of travelling.  Much to be recommended compared with the commoner close-up view of the back of the drivers head experienced by too many wheelchair passengers!  It's also nigh on impossible for the passenger to join in conversation.

We bought new the first time but never again - you can get far better value from used models, many of which have very low mileage.

Cost to ourselves - £50,000 over 15 years
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#235
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