Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Caregiver Spotlight: Are Wheelchair Accessible Vehicles THAT Great?

A grey minivan is parked in a disabled parking spot. A little girl is seated in a transfer seat, which is extended outside of the rear passenger door. Her mother reaches down to unbuckle her seatbelt. The girl's wheelchair is positioned right next to her.
As a caregiver, you’ve spent countless hours both stowing and retrieving mobility equipment from your vehicle. You’ve also performed hundreds, if not thousands, of transfers. But one day, let’s say that you help a wheelchair user transfer into a vehicle, and hurt your back in the process. At first, you think it isn’t a big deal. However, after constantly repeating this process, your injury only gets worse. What now?

Unfortunately, we hear stories like this all the time. When assisting people with disabilities, you can’t forget to pay attention to your own health and safety. After all, if you injure yourself, you can’t help anybody. So let’s put a stop to this mess before it even begins. A Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) makes it easier to be a better caregiver, and can certainly save you from hurting yourself. It goes without saying that life would also become less stressful for the wheelchair users in your life. So secure your wheelchairs, put on your seatbelts, and grab some snacks for the road! We’re about to take a trip down Caregiver Lane.
A silver minivan is in a disabled parking spot at a park. A woman is shown pushing a boy in a manual wheelchair. They are walking down a BraunAbility foldout ramp. A woman and a friend greet the two.

I know exactly what you’re thinking: “Where do I begin?” Though most people are only worried about their vehicle’s color or the size of its engine, you have a lot more to think about. Creating an action plan is a great way to ease some of your stress, while saving you a lot of time and money. While our WAV specialists can help you create a more detailed list, you can start by asking yourself a few important questions, including:
  • Is the inside of the vehicle tall enough for a wheelchair user?
  • Are both the ramp and door wide enough?
  • How and where should you secure the wheelchair?
This process can seem very stressful, especially for new wheelchair users. The reality is that life doesn’t stop just because you have a disability. If you insist on doing all of the research and finding a vehicle on your own, it’s likely that you could make a costly mistake. If you are a wheelchair user, you know how important tiny details can be. For example, if you have to park your vehicle in a garage, you have to purchase a WAV that will fit in that space. A good dealer will work with you, and point out some things that you should consider before making any decisions. They’ll help you cover every detail, and may ask questions like:
  • Do you need to park your WAV in a garage?
  • Is there enough space to load and unload your wheelchair?
  • Can you fasten your wheelchair on your own, or do you need assistance?
  • Can you transfer into another seat within your vehicle?
A family is shown in front of their conversion van. A few children are wheelchair users, one of which is positioned on the vehicle's power lift.
Each caregiver and wheelchair user has a unique set of challenges, which is why it’s important that you receive individualized service. Remember that your vehicle is made to specifically work for you. Because of this, there’s a good chance that your WAV will have different features than others you’ve checked out. While it might be difficult to picture the final product, try and keep an open mind about the modifications that you may require. During the process, you can absolutely make suggestions and ask for clarification about anything.

A man is pointing to a foldout ramp of a BraunAbility minivan. He is talking to a girl and her father, as they both look up the ramp and into the vehicle.
We know that your life as a caregiver is extremely busy. If you want to check out a vehicle in person, but don’t have the time to visit our Largo facility, our team can even bring it to you. Our goal is to provide caregivers and wheelchair users with a hassle-free experience, which is why we also have a large inventory. On the off chance that we don’t have your dream vehicle in stock, we can specifically order it for you. We can even modify commercial WAVs, which are specifically designed for drivers that work in the ridesharing industry. Click here if you’d like to learn more about commercial WAV options.

Lastly, as a caregiver, you know that independence is extremely important for people with disabilities. If your client, son, or daughter is interested in learning to drive, Grace Adaptive Driving can train them. Since adaptive controls have a bit of a learning curve, these professionals can teach individuals with disabilities to drive on their own, and become that much more independent. For more information about Grace Adaptive Driving, click here.

Whether you have a disability or not, transportation is an important part of everybody’s lives. While it might seem overwhelming to research WAVs, the payoff will be well worth it in the end. Having more control over your transportation will help you to be a better caregiver, and help your clients to live happier and healthier lives. And who wouldn’t want that?

Kyle Romano

Mary Carol Peterson

Edited by:
Kyle Romano

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