Firstly, my experience will likely be different to yours so this is my version of the journey. However, when I got my PIP approved and was looking for information about the process and the grants system, I could find very very very little. Hence this post.
Firstly, for me, it was a case of going to NAIDEX where I could see a variety of wheelchair adapted vehicles, or WAVS, at once. Motability also do fairs which work much the same I would think. Going to NAIDEX meant I could get in a range of WAVs and see what might be the right size for my needs and talk to staff about different options.
An important thing to understand is that there are many companies which offer WAVs but ultimately Motability will be renting from them, in order to rent to you. Sound complicated? Well, you’re having your first lesson in all of this… nothing is as simple as it might be…
You can ring the different companies to talk about your needs or to arrange test drives and demonstrations. My feeling about it all is that it’s ultimately about the right vehicle. Some companies provides some vehicles and others provide other ones. Of course their service levels and how they treat you will be important but you will have this vehicle for 5 years.
Another thing to know about Motability is that they offer grants. This is important as there are generally initial costs involved in WAVs. The grants process seems designed to put you off… especially if you have issues with phones… Initially you ring Motability to get an application for the grant. On that phone call you will need:
- the applicants name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address and national insurance number
- the length of time the applicants PIP is in place for
- what benefits the applicant is on, specifically means tested, and what other income do they have
- what condition does the applicant have
- who else lives with the applicant
- who will be driving the vehicle, do they have any points on their license, do they drive manual or do they need to drive automatic for their own medical reasons
- what equipment do you travel with
Once you’ve provided that information, you’ll be sent an application form either by post or email but email is obviously quicker. When I contacted them, the turn around time from receiving it back was 5 to 6 weeks.
This form will ask for:
- everything above
- more details about how the condition affects the applicant
- the size of the wheelchair and your height when you’re seated, also your eye level height when seated
- the size of all equipment you’ll travel with
- what benefits you’re on
- what income you have
- how much you have in your bank accounts
- your height and weight
- your main drivers height and weight
When considering which WAV is best for you, think about the following:
- do you want to be able to drive or who is going to be driving it
- how many people will you be travelling with
- do you want to use it for an electric wheelchair or a manual wheelchair
- what needs to fit in the WAV
- how important is space, comfort and smoothness of ride to you
- where in the vehicle will the wheelchair be and how does that affect how the air con reaches you, how the radio reaches you and how you can reach the windows and speak to the driver
Think about a test drive route so that you are comparing like for like when you do the test drives. We went for one that covered speed bumps, pot holes, lots of stopping and starting and dual carriageways.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to try out as many options as you need to. This vehicle will likely be with you for 5 years, it needs to be the right one.