What my wheelchair vehicle means to me

I do have more posts about animals and death in the planning stages but my week away took a lot more out of me than expected so they are at the coming soon point…!

My week away brings me to the subject of this blog post, what my wheelchair vehicle (WAV) means to me, because without it the holiday would have been very different.

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I’ve had my WAV for nearly two months now.  It’s a Peugeot Rifter and both my electric and manual wheelchair fit in it which is a huge difference to only being able to take a manual chair in the boot of a car. The latter means that I have to be pushed by a carer. So what has my wonderful WAV let me do?

I went to Beverley to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.  Being in my electric chair meant I could move through at my pace without having to tell someone and I could see the pictures better as my electric chair is higher up.

We drove over to Hebden Bridge to see a friend of mine.  We went to Osmotherley to walk around Cod Beck Reservoir.  It was much more comfortable and less painful being in my electric wheelchair and it meant that my carer could walk along beside me which makes it much easier to talk to her!

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We went to Scarborough and because I was able to take my electric wheelchair, I was able to spend time someone without my carer being the third wheel.  Whilst I love my carers and they are great, I don’t always want them literally looking over my shoulder as they push me.

Of course the biggest thing that my WAV has made possible was my holiday.  We were able to drive down south, meet my lovely friend and do little day trips.  Again, being in my electric wheelchair makes a huge difference to my experience.  I am much more comfortable, less battered and bruised, am able to talk to my carer and can move around on my own. I no longer have to try and guide a carer into the position for me to take a photo – left a bit, right a bit, no back a bit… And my electric wheelchair is a little higher so when we go places like the zoo, I can see over the railings more easily.

me

Without my electric wheelchair, we couldn’t have gone to most of the places we visited because for some reason all the paths were gravel which is incredibly hard to push a manual wheelchair through.  As it was, I did get stuck a couple of times with my wheels skidding.  In my manual chair, not only is it a nightmare for the carer doing the pushing, it’s painful for me and it undermines a lot of the enjoyment of the trip.

I am loving the freedom that my WAV is giving me and the ability to use my electric wheelchair wherever we go.  I am very aware that the benefits system has many faults but I am so grateful that I’ve been able to use mine with the motability scheme to get my WAV.

Bring on more trips and days out!

Motability grants and processes

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.