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Tips for a new wheelchair user

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I've known this was going to happen for a while, but I have now become the proud owner of a shiny new wheelchair.

 

I've opted for self-propelled even though my upper body strength is sufficiently limited to mean that most of the time I'll have to have help, but I'm a control freak and leaving my speed/direction/ability to move entirely in the hands of someone else totally freaked me out.

 

I've had the session with the physio but that was of necessity very limited, and the physio doesn't actually have the knowledge a day-to-day wheelchair user has, so thought I'd see if any other CAG members would be willing to share.

 

We've already run into issues with door thresholds - even if I could open the two fire doors between my front door and the entrance to the building, I'd not be able to get myself over these and my son had some difficulty even pushing me over them.

 

The supermarket was also quite illuminating. Since my son had the trolley (they'd run out of the wheelchair ones since the other two wheelchair users got there first!) I was quite successfully moving myself around but had to learn very quickly that people can stop much quicker than I can, they never look behind them before stepping back and never see anything below their own eye level. I'm not complaining - I'm sure I've done exactly the same things hundreds of times because it simply wouldn't have occurred to me that I might be causing a problem.

 

Having had so much fun negotiating the supermarket, I can't wait for a visit to the pub tomorrow, and I'm certainly not planning any solo excursions any time soon, but would appreciate any tips/hints/advice from more experienced users. Also any recommended forums/websites for wheelchair users that might prove useful.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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A good pair of real leather gloves.

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Funnily enough the salesman at the mobility shop gave me some, but I didn't want to get them dirty!


RMW

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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22704979

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-22719349

 

A couple of short videos by a young lad who is confined to a wheelchair.

 

Do you have an occupational therapist ? they should be able to advise. :)


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I have one which I use when I break my leg, yes it happens that frequently I needed to purchase one!

 

Leather gloves are a must!

 

And whilst you can wheel yourself about quite easily on the level, flat surfaces, if you're struggling to go up an incline, or even getting onto the pavement using the dropped kerb, you might find it easier, and safer, going backwards, I find that turning the chair round and then 'pulling' the wheels was a lot easier and safer when I struggled to cross roads or get up slight inclines.

 

Also, try and avoid drains! Those front wheels have a tendency of finding the slit and stopping the chair instantly and out you go!

 

You might find it a bit more comfier with a cushion, and there are other add ons you can get to make your life a little easier,

take a look at this site, I get their magazine every quarter.

 

http://www.careco.co.uk/


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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22704979

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-22719349

 

A couple of short videos by a young lad who is confined to a wheelchair.

 

Do you have an occupational therapist ? they should be able to advise. :)

 

I spoke to a chap earlier with a new electric wheelchair that cost him £4500. Fantastic quality machine with everything you could want. As he uses in his house, he opted for it instead of a mobility scooter.


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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22704979

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-ouch-22719349

 

A couple of short videos by a young lad who is confined to a wheelchair.

 

Do you have an occupational therapist ? they should be able to advise. :)

 

The videos are amazing, though I think it might be a while (as in never!) before I tackle a flight of stairs! OH won't have anything to do with wheelchairs in this area - they only sort out the grab rails etc.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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I have one which I use when I break my leg, yes it happens that frequently I needed to purchase one!

 

Leather gloves are a must!

 

And whilst you can wheel yourself about quite easily on the level, flat surfaces, if you're struggling to go up an incline, or even getting onto the pavement using the dropped kerb, you might find it easier, and safer, going backwards, I find that turning the chair round and then 'pulling' the wheels was a lot easier and safer when I struggled to cross roads or get up slight inclines.

 

Also, try and avoid drains! Those front wheels have a tendency of finding the slit and stopping the chair instantly and out you go!

 

You might find it a bit more comfier with a cushion, and there are other add ons you can get to make your life a little easier,

take a look at this site, I get their magazine every quarter.

 

http://www.careco.co.uk/

 

I shall try going backwards since I found even the most shallow incline pretty much impossible. The chair is already quite padded but I've also bought an extra cushion to make up for the lack of padding on my rear. I shall investigate that link thoroughly when I have a bit more time - I already need something waterproof.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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I spoke to a chap earlier with a new electric wheelchair that cost him £4500. Fantastic quality machine with everything you could want. As he uses in his house, he opted for it instead of a mobility scooter.

 

We did look at electric ones, but it's very difficult to justify the cost when I only use it outdoors and they're much more difficult to fold up for the car boot or even so we're not always tripping over it in the flat. I tried a mobility scooter (borrowed one from Shopmobility) but hated it - I was really uncomfortable - and I know from my parent's experience that it's even more difficult to store/get in the car.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Many thanks to everyone who has replied.

 

My own tip for anyone else after advice - anything on your lap is very vulnerable to the less honest members of our society, so best to tuck your handbag down the side if you can't put it across your body. And to the skateboarding lad who was in the High Street 30 minutes ago, that's two things you were doing which you shouldn't have been. I doubt even your scummiest mates would be impressed if you told them you tried to nick a disabled woman's handbag.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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You can get under seat bags/storage, alternatively you could get security cables to attach items to you or your chair should any

undesirable try to run off with your bag.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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Many thanks to everyone who has replied.

 

My own tip for anyone else after advice - anything on your lap is very vulnerable to the less honest members of our society, so best to tuck your handbag down the side if you can't put it across your body. And to the skateboarding lad who was in the High Street 30 minutes ago, that's two things you were doing which you shouldn't have been. I doubt even your scummiest mates would be impressed if you told them you tried to nick a disabled woman's handbag.

 

Bring back hanging is what I say !!


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PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Bring back hanging is what I say !!

Definitely, for politicians.


Who ever heard of someone getting a job at the Jobcentre? The unemployed are sent there as penance for their sins, not to help them find work!

 

 

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Hi RMD when I first had my accident I could not walk i only had use of 1 arm. I had to have more operations on my hips amd left sholder when in hospital I used to be draged round backwards. I cannot repeat what I used to say etc. My insurance came through for me and arranged hire of a powered wheelchair the people that arranged my chair would only let me have one of those that had a pair of small wheels back and front and a pair of latge wheels in the centrer of the chair as would have to use it to go see my wife in hospital.Oh man the independence of that. I found that due to it having 3 pairs of wheels going up or down a curb was more like using a ramp and did not try to throw me out of thr chair though the flaming SS did strap me into chair due to only 1 good arm. Never had any one try to nick anything freom me. As had been said by others watch the grids in the gutter they are a bugger.

 

I never got thrown out of my chair with them just got some nice bruises from the straps. Dont know your condition but will say that I had to have 6 operations and 3 years learning to walk again. I now have to walk with one of those adjustable walking sticks only had to wave it at 1 drunk.

 

Will just wish you well I know from your posts your a fighter.

 

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Had a fabulous afternoon as for the first time in several years I was able to go in as many shops as I wanted and go (nearly wrote walk!) around every display as many times as I liked. Handbag was securely attached to my person, drain covers are now my enemy and so are carelessly arranged displays that lead you on only to trap you in an inescapable corner.

 

Never say never, but my mobility is unlikely to improve so I'm trying to only see the positives and focus on how much more I will be able to do once I can use this thing entirely independently.

 

My arms haven't worked this hard since my days of competitive swimming and I have blisters on both thumbs, but I'm going to do it again this evening. Well, perhaps I'll let someone push for a while.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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http://walkswithwheelchairs.com/

 

Interesting web site ^^^^ places to go that are wheelchair friendly.

 

Having done a googly for information for new wheelchair users, it seems that a pair of gloves and a pressure cushion appear to be the most important things to acquire.


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Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

PLEASE DO NOT ASK ME TO GIVE ADVICE BY PM - IF YOU PROVIDE A LINK TO YOUR THREAD THEN I WILL BE HAPPY TO OFFER ADVICE THERE:D

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Can't move my arms much this morning, but found yet another positive - went out last night in heels for the first time in years and years and years.


RMW

"If you want my parking space, please take my disability" Common car park sign in France.

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Thanks in part to many of the tips above, we're starting to get the hang of this, however I am becoming increasingly frustrated at not being able to get out on my own. The problems are:

1. As with most modern doors, there is quite a 'lip' at the bottom of our front door, plus a step down outside. I can (just about) manage that by lifting the chair down before I get in it - we can't put in a ramp as there wouldn't be enough room to turn at the bottom even with one so steep it would qualify as a category 1 in the Tour de France!

2. There is a fire door between my front door and the lift. Again there is a lip, but the biggest issue is the weight of the door. Even if I get out of the chair, I cannot get both me and the chair through the door.

3. There is then another heavy door with a lip to exit the building, and immediately outside is a slope which takes you straight into the busy main road if you're not very careful.

Our apartment is owned by us, the building is leasehold and managed by a professional management company appointed by the residents.

 

So far I've managed by getting someone else to accompany me as far as the pedestrian crossing near the building exit (where there's railings to prevent any accidental change of direction!), and then texting when I'm on my way back so they can meet me, but it does mean I can only go out when someone else is around, which rather defeats the object of giving me more independence. My own online research has so far failed to reveal any solution or who might pay for it - though if it's reasonable I'd be happy to pay myself just so I could get out.


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Advice & opinions given by citizenb are personal, are not endorsed by Consumer Action Group or Bank Action Group, and are offered informally, without prejudice & without liability. Your decisions and actions are your own, and should you be in any doubt, you are advised to seek the opinion of a qualified professional.

 

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You might be eligible for a grant to remove the threshold from your door.

Speak to social services and they will come to assess the situation.

In my friends' building there are several wheelchair friendly front doors (without threshold) and the fire doors have been fitted with a push button to open automatically.

In a building at work yesterday I noticed that the fire doors are held always open by a magnet that would release it when the alarm is triggered.

This seems a cheaper option that you could suggest.

Good luck and I admire your determination 😊

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Unfortunately (or that might be fortunately depending on your point of view) we won't qualify for any help with adaptions, and it seems that installing automatic doors which meet fire safety regs, maintain building security and will get approval from the management company is likely to prove expensive. I must admit that I'm a bit peeved that all and sundry are going to have the benefit of what I have to pay for - we've been nagging the management co to put in some means of propping the doors open for 6 years since the removable wedges provided by other residents are invariably removed fairly quickly - but at least we can pay for it thanks to hubby's very good salary. I have immense sympathy for those who are only just over the income limits but would still have to pay themselves.

 

Something I am becoming very aware of when out and about is that my face is now exactly the right height to have a cigarette waved in front of my nose every time I pass a smoker. Nice.


RMW

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You can always get a remote controlled door that opens for you at a click of a button.

 

As far as mobility scooters go there are the type that can be dismantled and put in the boot.


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Well just got the first quote for installing the automatic doors (x2) plus a low profile door sill and I nearly fell off the chair!

 

When the ongoing maintenance cost is added in (which we also have to pay for, yet to clarify what happens if we move), finding somewhere more suitable is suddenly rather more attractive.

 

The proposed charge from the management company of £75 + VAT for a letter confirming we can have the work done is simply the icing on the cake.


RMW

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Hi,

 

 

There are two questions in my mind when I read about the issues at you home. 1) do you have to pay for it? 2) if you do, are there solutions which will make in manageable without breaking the bank.

 

 

1) I haven't been through the guidance under the Equality Act regarding common parts of shared ownership properties. Might be worth looking at it and contacting a solicitor such as Unity Law in Sheffield to see if they know. Of course, you might not want to use the law in these circumstances.

 

 

2) There are some solution that would mean the weight of the door is no longer an issue, with having to go to the expense of auto doors.

 

 

Adjust the door closer pressure - free if you have a handy person ! if they have metal boxes fixed at the top, these are likely to be adjustable. Certainly any put in since 2001 should be. The current guidance on operating pressure for doors is 30 netwons of force for the first 15° of opening, and then 22.5 newtons for the rest. Approved Document M of the building regs specifies this. If the closers haven't been adjusted to this it they will be quite a bit heavier. If they have old floor mounter closers they can be a real pain!

 

 

New door closer - you can now get a door closer that will stay open (when pushed past a certain point), operates at really low operating pressure when in 'free swing' and then when the fire alarm goes it will close regardless of what mode its in. Battery powered I believe.

 

 

http://www.firecoltd.com/Fire/freedor.aspx - not sure on cost, probably a few hundred each I imagine.

 

 

Doorguard - Holds the door open, battery powered, listens for a fire alarm and then releases the door when necessary. just over £100 each.

 

 

http://www.firecoltd.com/Fire/dorgard.aspx

 

For door thresholds, you could look at hardwood wedges, full length and fixed to the floor. For example if the threshold is 15mm, a 200mm long wedge would take the bite out of it.

 

 

---------------------

PS - I am certain that the management company can not refuse a request for a 'reasonable adjustment' without proper grounds. If they do, they are on the wrong side of the Equality Act.

 

 

Hope this all helps.

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Very kind of you to reply, however having fully researched this and for the benefit of anyone with a similar issue:-

 

1. We do have to pay. The section of the Equality Act which might have applied has not yet been brought into law, but even if it had, the bill would just have gone on to the service charges and we'd have been paying a share plus upsetting all our neighbours - why should they have to pay for something I need? Taking it to an extreme (and I suspect it's why that section hasn't been made law), I could be asking them to put in and pay for a lift. We expected to have to pay the initial cost, what upset us was the management company insisting that we also pay all maintenance and repair costs despite the 100% likelihood that the door openers in particular will be used by all the residents, and we would therefore have no control over how or how often they were used.

 

2. Making the doors lighter or easier to open wouldn't help me get through them - I simply cannot hold a door open and manoeuvre a wheelchair at the same time, even if they were swing doors and I could push them open with my feet from either direction. Anything that holds the door open permanently, even if electrically linked to the fire alarm system, has been vetoed (and rightly) on grounds of security. Both doors are both fire and security doors. The upstairs door has in fact only recently been replaced, mostly due to damage from people trying to get pushchairs and shopping trolleys through whilst fighting with it. It now has metal sheathing over the bottom half, which is lucky because even with someone pushing me, the doorway is so tight we usually scrape either the door or the frame.

 

My husband, who is very handy, would quite happily put a more suitable wedge on the problem threshhold, on that count we object to the £75 + VAT fee for the management company giving permission. He'll probably just do it and then deny all knowledge if they ever notice. The fee thing has gone on the list of potential issues for the next AGM when we decide whether or not to renew their contract. Some of the other residents are also fuming that anyone would even try to make a profit out of a situation like this. Something along the lines of 'we'd usually charge x but in the circumstances will reduce that to ...' would have kept everyone happy.


RMW

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