Disability aids

10 daily solutions to make life easier if you’re disabled

Daily life always comes with a few annoyances, no matter what your situation. But when you’re disabled, it can throw up additional challenges, especially when you don’t have things set up the right way for you. Our writer and editor Lucy, who has cerebral palsy, details 10 ways she’s found to make her life that little bit simpler.

Being a disabled person often means doing things differently from able-bodied people. The most obvious one for me, as a wheelchair user, is that I use a wheelchair to move around rather than my legs.

But that’s just the most obvious – over the years I have developed and discovered lots of solutions, tips and tricks to make my life easier…

1. Tablet storage and pill boxes

I need to take tablets daily and I find that the boxes/bottles they come in are hard or just a faff to open. They also take up space, and I really don’t think it’s helpful to have my kitchen doubling up as a pharmacy!

I have now found the ideal solution – a cosmetics bag. It’s nothing fancy, in fact, I think it was £5 from Boots, but it works perfectly for me. I put a foil of each of my tablets in the bag so when I need to take them they are all in the same place.

White cosmetic bag with colourful silhouette of London in pinks, yellows and orange

I only take three tablets, so the bag is a workable solution for me, but if this increased I would definitely need a pillbox. Also, if you have trouble remembering doses or take lots of different types, then I highly recommend a pillbox.

The Disability Horizons Shop sells a few pill boxes, including a couple of stylish versions with leather cases to store them in. Just the organisational benefit itself would make it worthwhile.

Some tablet boxes can also remind you what to take and when out loud. Useful if you experience memory or sight problems, or just want one less thing to think about.

2. Smart lighting and heating controls

I have a system called Lightwave installed in my home that enables me to switch my lights on or off, either with the Lightwave app on my phone or my voice. I’ve always found it a stretch to reach light sockets, so I find this incredibly helpful.

It’s also useful when I remember that I’ve left a light on in another room, especially if I am not in my wheelchair, as I can turn it off without having to move.

I chose Lightwave as this system uses smart sockets as opposed to smart bulbs. As I have lots of different light fittings throughout my home that smart bulbs wouldn’t fit, it was cheaper for me this way.

When it comes to my heating, I can adjust it from my phone or with voice using Alexa. It means I use less electricity and am more comfortable. I chose the Tado system as there was a sale at the time. It works with Alexa (I use one that is also a speaker), the Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant.

All smart heating controls allow phone and voice control, so you can shop around. It is important to check the compatibility of your boiler with any smart system before purchasing one.

3. Ribbons on doors or anything out-of-reach

This may sound really simple, but it is a perfect example of how an object meant for one purpose can be used for another. For years I struggled with doors, especially ones you want to pull shut behind you.

Adding something long to the handle of doors means I can pull a door open or closed, assuming it isn’t fully shut. I use ribbon as I think it looks nice and comes in a range of colours.

Ribbon is readily available from craft shops and, as it’s not a disability aid, it’s cheap – a whole reel costs approximately £3, depending on what you want.

Long red ribbon tied to a door handle

Using ribbon, string or cord works on anything out of reach too. I know people that attach a cord to their manual wheelchairs so that they can pull the chair towards them from further away or get their assistance dog to do it!


If you have trouble actually opening doors because of grip or strength issues, try the Tru Grip door extender or the T-Pull Door Closer for wheelchair users. You might also want to try this folding grabber stick to help with picking up or getting to items far away.


4. Apps

Apart from Lightwave and Tado, I also have an app for smart plugs that I have lamps and my TVs plugged into it. It’s called Kasa and it works with Alexa, but it will also connect with the Samsung SmartThings and Google Home smart hubs.

I also couldn’t get from A-B without Apple Maps and Google Maps – I’m very bad at navigating! I use both as sometimes one works better than the other.

The Patient Access App enables me to book doctors appointments without having to ring my GP practice.

I’m also signed up with the prescription delivery service, Pharmacy2U, which is very convenient, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. It means I can order my repeat prescriptions with a couple of taps on the screen.

Lucy's phone with apps on the screen

5. Carrying aids

I find carrying things tricky as I have some arm weakness and grip issues. So when it comes to holding and transporting hot mugs, I use a five-fingered oven glove, like the one I have linked to.

Then I haven’t got to worry about only holding the handle. The glove also provides extra grip if you did want to use it to get dinner to the table too.

I also use a Trabasack lap tray when carrying items for extra stability. Pre-Covid-19, I always took it to restaurants and cafes to use when the tables were at the wrong height for me to eat at.

I have the Curve, seen below, but there are a few different versions of the Trabasack in a variety of sizes and colours. They also double up as a wheelchair bag.

Black leather Trabasack Curve wheelchair lap tray and bag stood on its end

6. Bath step instead of a transfer step

I’m short so I sometimes need a little extra height to be able to transfer into shower seats and beds when away from home. To help with this, I use a flat bath step that I got from Naidex about 15 years ago, similar to the one I have linked to here.

Official ‘transfer steps’ that are specifically marketed for disabled and elderly people can cost more than a standard step. But these are said to be the steadiest and therefore safest ones, so please make sure an alternative will be suitable for you before buying.

White plastic bath step next to a bath

7. Suction grab rail

If you have balance or mobility issues, grab rails are a godsend, especially when you’re away from your home. I use them to transfer from my chair, and they need to be in the right place.

I take a Mobeli Grab rail with me wherever I go. It has suction cups so can be placed on any smooth wall.

Grab rails can be very cheap or very expensive, depending on how much weight you will put on them and what you can hold. Mobeli grab rails are expensive, but I’ve found that the cheaper ones tend to fall off the wall! Better safe than sorry!

If you’re able to put weight through your legs, then the cheaper options may be enough. I’d recommend always having an able-bodied person test a grab rail before use, if possible.

Four different sizes of Mobeli grab rails stuck onto a wall with smooth blue tiles

8. Hairdryer stand and a hot brush

This is not something I use but a useful tip I got from a DHorizons Tribe member on our Facebook group.

She uses a hairdryer stand and a hot styling brush to do her hair, enabling her to be independent.

A hairdryer stand can be either freestanding or fixed to a wall and holds a hairdryer in place so that you don’t have to hold it – particularly useful if you have limited dexterity or strength.

Similarly, a hot brush is a hairbrush that gets warm. It is used as a styling tool, but is also a good alternative to drying your hair.

Babylis hot styling hairbrush

9. Smartwatches

Care alarms will always have their place and are a lifeline to independence for many. But, for some people, myself included, a smartwatch does the job just as well and for less money! I have the iPhone 11 and Apple Watch 6. I chose the cellular and GPS version so I would have the option of adding a cellular plan if the connection to my phone was unreliable. However, the Bluetooth connection works from a couple of rooms away so haven’t needed to pay extra for a watch plan. I wanted the latest tech available but any Apple Watch model can function this way. There are other makes available but this is the best set up for me.

Smartwatches can give reminders, act as a calendar, monitor blood pressure and even tell the time.

Most watches have a fall sensor and the Apple Watch now has a handwashing function in response to Coronavirus.

They won’t suit everyone. Some people need an external call centre and someone on the end of a phone. But for those of us who just want the reassurance of being able to call friends and family if we get into difficulty, a smartwatch may be a good option.

10. Velcro vet wrap Tape

Velcro is my go-to if I need things to stay in place. I’ve stuck Velcro to the back of my phone and iPad, even remote controls.

If like me, your disability means you’re prone to dropping things, then velcro is an inexpensive way of making sure items stay put.

Vet wrap tape is officially used as bandages for animals, but it’s grippy and sticks to itself, so it’s great for adding grip to smooth surfaces, such as remote controls and credit cards, to make them easier to pick up.

I have also used vet tape to wrap around my wheelchair armrests when they began to split. It’s almost invisible, black on black, not sticky and more hardwearing than packing tape. It’s softer too and there are a number of different colours available.

You could also try Cat Tongue Grip tape, which works in the same way as Velcro but is clear, so a good option if you want something more discreet. It’s also, non-abrasive, latex-free and made from recyclable material.

I haven’t tried it myself, but you can take a look at this review of the Cat Tongue grip tape to find out more.

By Lucy Currier

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Trabasack Curve with Instructions

Trabasack Curve Review

I have been given a Trabasack Curve to review. Whilst this product was sent to me free I have been using these products for many years and have brought several. This review contains my honest opinions and experiences of the product. This was originally written for Disability Horizons but I have been given permission to post it on inclusivelivingconcepts.

What is a Trabasack?

A Trabasack is a bag and a lap tray all in one. It is a versatile product that has many uses. My main use is as a removable tray but it can also be used as a bag and for storage. My spasms are just one aspect of my disability. Therefore I needed a tray that I could have food on without my spasms chucking the food all over the place.

The Trabasack was invented by Clare as a lap tray for her son Joe who uses a wheelchair. The tray had to be safe and practical to use. There are now three main models of the Trabasack. The Max, Mini and Curve. The Mini and Curve Trabasack models come with or without a ‘connect’ surface. The Connect models are made with soft Velcro material on the tray portion of the Trabasack Curve. This is useful if you want to Velcro items so that they stay put on the tray. For this review, I was given the option to receive a Curve model with or without this feature.

Curve Connect or Curve?

I chose the Curve model without the Connect feature for the purpose of this review. I’ve learnt from experience that the ability to wipe the product clean is important to me, not because I’m particularly messy but everything sticks to Velcro. My main use for this product is to eat and drink and having owned a Curve Connect for seven years prior to receiving this review unit. I know that crumbs in particular stick to this tray like glue! Connect is a lovely feature that is doing what it is designed to do but it is not particularly convenient with food I find.

The Connect versions are great for anything and everything you want to stay in place. Check out my review for more information.

Trabasack Curve with Instructions

Using the Trabasack Curve

The Curve comes with an instruction leaflet and two straps, one short one long. Which strap/s you use depends on how you want to use the product.

As I’m always in my wheelchair I prefer to use one strap around my waist. This keeps the curve as close to me as possible and is the most stable. Due to my disability, I cannot reach around my back so if I’m by myself I connect the two straps together and wrap them around my armrests at the front. This position isn’t as good but at least I can secure it independently. The Trabasack can also be worn like a standard rucksack and slung over one shoulder. It may have been created for disabled people but it makes a really great laptop or tablet bag whether you have a disability or not.

Trabasack Curve on Lap

D-Rings and ring pull zips

The Trabasack has six D-Rings to which the straps attach. These are strong and sturdy as well as being easy and simple to use. Instead of fiddling about opening the hook and then struggling to attach it to the ring, simply press the hook end of a strap against a D-Ring. The hook will be pushed open and snap onto the D-Ring.

Curve strap hook and D-Ring

The zip runs all the way around the product and the zips are fitted with ring pulls so that the zips are easier to use if you find using zips hard due to disability. Instead of having to grip a tiny object, simply place a finger or thumb in the ring and move your hand to the side to open or close the zip. Much easier to access if you have strength or dexterity issues like me. I keep the zips together as I like the way it looks and I have no trouble gripping them but if you want to make it easier to open and close always have one zip at the front of the curve. That way you only have to pull one zip instead of two to open or close the bag.

Trabasack Ring Pull Zips

Trabasack Curve Tray

The tray portion of the product is not only wipe-clean but also non slip. If, like me, you want the wipe-clean Curve the company does sell a non-slip mat, cut to the same shape as the Curve. This can be very useful and can be kept inside the Curve when it is not needed. I have used one before and keep it handy but for day to day, I find the original non-slip surface good enough for my needs.

The tray portion also has quite a high lip/edge on it to stop items from sliding off. I have to say this is why I brought a Trabasack Curve in the first place. I saw a photo of somebody in a wheelchair, using a Trabasack Curve to carry a plate that contained an English breakfast. This may not sound impressive but the plate included baked beans, the person’s lap wasn’t level and the plate and more importantly ALL the food was on the tray!

english-breakfast

Curve Tray Bean Bag

The reason the breakfast didn’t end up on the floor wasn’t just due to the built-in edge around the tray and the straps. The Curve also has a removable bean bag inside it to help keep it level. If you spend a few seconds setting it up on your lap then it really is very stable. My spasms and startle reflex have tested this so this isn’t just empty praise. Before I came across the Trabasack Curve I couldn’t use a tray at all as food simply slid off my lap!

Curve Beanbag

Eating with the Trabasack Curve

Eating outside and using unsuitable tables when out is possible with a Trabasack Curve. Unless I have a lunch box I do prefer to rest the front edge of my Trabasack on a table as then I don’t have to bend to my lap to eat, (my knees make it very low!) Prior to having the Trabasack Curve when eating out, I had to lean forward as my wheelchair wouldn’t fit underneath restaurant tables. In fact, when we went out for a family meal two weeks ago I forgot that my Curve had been taken off the back of my wheelchair. I then had no choice but to lean forward. Doable but a lot less comfortable.

Dinner Plate on Trabasack

Trabasack Curve and iPad

Weather permitting, I like to sit outside and write, watch films etc so I love my iPad. I love my iPad on my Trabasack Curve even more as I’m not restricted to sitting where tables are.

Another big plus is when I have finished using my iPad I can place my iPad inside my Curve. It is nice and safe on my lap. I am now hands-free and don’t have to worry about people possibly stealing my property from my wheelchair. With my original Curve Connect, I put velcro on my iPad case and stuck my iPad to the tray, giving me even more peace of mind. I actually ruined an iPad case doing this. Trust me when I tell you a little goes a long way! I put plenty of Velcro on the case and it worked too well! I had to remove the iPad from the case to get it off my Trabasack!

Storing items inside Trabasack Curve

I wish this bag had been around when I was at school. A laptop up to 14” can fit inside the Trabasack. It wouldn’t have replaced my school bag, too many books, but I could’ve kept my personal belongings on my lap. This is what I do now. I find my laptop too heavy on my legs to use with the Curve but many people do. The Trabasack Curve is a fantastic bag for electronics whether you have a disability or not. The padded inside ensures devices are protected.

Price and conclusion

The Trabasack Curve costs £39.95. The Connect version is slightly more, £44.95. I thought this was expensive for a tray and expensive for a bag. I brought my first one telling myself I was ridiculous for spending so much money. This review Curve is my 5th Trabasack. This isn’t because they are not long-lasting. My oldest one has just broken after seven years. The thread holding one of the D-Rings together has broken and years of using it outside mean it’s sun-bleached. It is still perfectly usable. I wanted to have more so I could keep one in the car and one on the back of my wheelchair.

If you have or know a child that needs toys etc within easy reach this will facilitate that. A big plus for me is that it’s also more portable and aesthetically pleasing than the trays that Wheelchair Services provide to their clients.

If you struggle to access food whilst eating at unsuitable tables, perhaps you need a flat surface to lean on to read. Maybe, like me, you want a portable table for your electronics. You won’t be disappointed. Please send all comments and questions to inclusivelivingconcepts.

Trabasack Curve Review Read More »

Naidex: biggest disability products event in the UK goes virtual

Inclusivelivingconcepts wouldn’t be a blog about disability if I didn’t review Naidex. Naidex is the UK’s biggest disability products exhibition. On the 18th and 19th March 2021, the exhibition went virtual. The physical event was cancelled twice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is normally held every year in Birmingham at the NEC. The venue has great access for disabled people. There is flat access throughout, hearing loops, assistance dogs are allowed and there are accessible toilets, including Changing Places facilities. The complex is huge though so it is very easy to get lost, even though I go every year!

Putting my woeful sense of direction aside, it is a great event. People with disabilities are in the majority instead of the minority. Almost any disability product you can think of, and a few you can’t are displayed! I was very curious how this would be adapted for the virtual world.

NEC-Website

Registering for Naidex

Tickets to Naidex are free. Booking tickets is as simple as going online and filling in the registration form. This year, a username and password were emailed to me. In previous years tickets, accompanied by an event guide, were delivered to my door through the post. A week before the event I received an email. The email contained teasers of disability products I could expect to see. Upcoming speaker seminars were mentioned as well.

Companies selling disability aids of all types were showcasing their products: beds, wheelchairs, and sensory equipment to name but a few. There was also a handy login link included.

Naidex-Registration-page

Accessing the event

Logging in was simple thanks to the link I was sent.

A top tip: copy and paste login credentials to avoid mistakes.

The screenshot below shows the login screen. There is an icon that looks like a person in the top right corner. This icon opens the accessibility features, which I’ll go through in detail later. Next to that are text resize buttons and in the lower right corner is a chat icon.

Login screen

Having logged in there was a menu on the left-hand side where I could click on ‘sessions,’ ‘speakers’ or choose to view the ‘interactive product directory.’ There were thirty-four speakers and one hundred and nineteen companies taking part across the two days. I lost count of the number of sessions as many were duplicated for different access needs. A session was where a company had written or pre-recorded a video about themselves or its products. This could be a bit boggling as everything was in list view with a scroll bar to view more. This made it difficult to know what to look at first as I had to scroll to see what was available.

Accessibility options

To access the many accessibility options available on the Naidex portal involved clicking the icon in the top right-hand corner that looks like a person/stickman. This brought up a menu with more accessibility options than I’ve seen before! An event showcasing disability products should be accessible but it’s still impressive.

The screenshot on the left shows the top of the accessibility adjustments and has options to reset settings, view the access statement or hide the accessibility interface altogether. Below these options are access profiles for differing needs: seizure-safe profile, vision-impaired profile, cognitive disability profile and ADHD-friendly profile. The accessibility options are scrollable so I had to take six screenshots to show all the options. The right screenshot shows the last two access profiles available which are blind users (screen reader) and keyboard navigation. Underneath this are the content adjustments: content scaling, readable font, highlight titles, highlight links and text magnifier.

The above two screenshots show the complete options for content adjustments, which in addition to those mentioned in the paragraph above, are: adjust font sizing, align centre, adjust line-height, align left, adjust letter spacing and align right. In the right screenshot, the first three options for colour adjustments are shown: dark contrast, light contrast, and monochrome.

The last two screenshots above show all of the colour adjustment options on the left and the orientation adjustments on the right.

The colour adjustments are: dark contrast, light contrast, monochrome, high saturation, high contrast, low saturation, adjust text colours, adjust title colours and adjust background colours.

Orientation adjustments

The orientation adjustments are as follows: mute sounds, hide images, read mode, reading guide, stop animations, reading mask, highlight hover, highlight focus, big black cursor and big white cursor. There is also a ‘useful links’ option in the centre of these adjustments to give the user the option to place a useful link in a position on the screen at all times. For example a link to the homepage.

The disability products

Everything from smart home products, car converters, specialist beds, mobility battery specialists, occupational therapists, sensory specialists, wheelchair manufacturers and solicitors were present at Naidex.

Searching for a specific product

This event can therefore be very useful if you are searching for a particular item. A couple of years ago my main purpose for attending Naidex was to research WAVs (wheelchair-accessible vehicles) as I needed to choose a new car. This year I just wanted to see what new disability products and services were available.

Disability products wishlist

I was particularly interested in the smart home gadgets as I’m always on the lookout for a gadget to make my life easier but as I already have smart heating and lighting, most things weren’t of interest. I will be keeping an eye on how smart locks develop though. As I have someone who can open my front door for me it seems overkill to splurge just yet.

Disability product the Smart-Lock

Similarly, if I had money to burn I would buy a turning bed to help me transfer in and out of bed easier. These beds not only move how my existing profiling bed does but the mattress also turns ninety degrees and puts you in a sitting position on the edge of the bed. This would make it easier for my PAs/family members to assist me to transfer and get me dressed and undressed but as I require help anyway and I haven’t got a money tree, this will have to stay a pipe dream.

Disability product, the ChairBed

Interesting disability product ideas to keep an eye on

Another interesting piece of equipment I saw is something called a Showerbuddy. This shower chair comes with its own transferring platform which means that a normal shower cubicle, (those with a step/lip,) can be used. It’s aimed at older people and marketed as an alternative solution to getting a bathroom adapted. The chair is slid into the shower off of its raised base on wheels.

Disability product, the Showerbuddy

Chronus Robotics

Chronus Robotics is a robot wheelchair. It’s compact, slim agile and absolutely no good for me as I have little to no trunk control. I remember being asked years ago if I wanted to try the Segway chairs and having to painstakingly explain that as the chairs were controlled by body movement I’d crash in roughly three seconds! The chair is also able to go up and down so that you can reach things. If you have upper body control I imagine they are great! I wouldn’t want to guess the price though! I’m hopeful that soon one or more of these robotics companies will design a chair that can be controlled more like a conventional power chair.

Seminars

My favourite seminars were:

  • Making a Successful Application for a Disabled Facilities Grant by Paul Smith.
  • Take the chance out of going out with AccessAble’s Detailed Access Guides by AccessAble.
  • How technology can be used to revolutionise the lives of disabled people Shani Dhanda.

There were plenty of others to choose from, on a range of different topics.

Conclusion

Naidex this year has been more accessible than ever! This is due to the fact that the disability products and advice seminars were all available online. I really enjoyed the virtual version. I’m hopeful that the physical show will go ahead in September but I hope that content will still be available online. This would make Naidex more accessible and inclusive than it has been before. I’m definitely getting tickets for September.

Naidex: biggest disability products event in the UK goes virtual Read More »

Accessible Rooms: How To Make Them More Accessible

Due to a certain well-known virus, most of us aren’t going anywhere at the moment, but I said I’d write an accessible rooms post on inclusivelivingconcepts before the COVID-19 madness started, and it occurred to me that the house arrest many are experiencing at the moment is a good opportunity to get organised for our next accessible getaway.

Questions to ask before you book your accessible accommodation.

I’ve found the best approach is to think about what would make your stay IMPOSSIBLE and then structure your questions around making sure the impossible can’t happen. The obvious access needed for a wheelchair user is steps. I always specify the exact thing I need or don’t need to make sure I can access everything.

Using the example of steps, the question I would ask is, does your accommodation have any steps? The keyword here is any. If they say no, I follow up with none once inside. The reason for this is I have often been told that the entrance has no steps but that the bathroom is split level. People tend to think about entrances when you ask any access question but not beyond that!

Blue door
Blue Door Entrance

My Top 10 Accessibility Questions:

1) Does your accommodation have any steps?

This is a deal-breaker for me unless there are lifts. Hotels often have alternative access, but If I want to book a holiday cottage, for example, it has to be wheelchair accessible. Steps may not be a barrier for you. Your insurmountable barrier may be that you need your accommodation to have hearing loops etc. Personalise this top ten to your circumstances.

2) If there are steps, are there lifts/ramps available to get to where I want to go?

I ask this because some people see in black and white, and it might not occur to them that there are steps at the front but step-free access at another entrance. Finding this out means I may have more choices about where to stay.

3) What is the width of your doorways?

This question is one I don’t have to ask as I’m lucky enough that my biggest piece of equipment (My PowerChair) fits through standard doorways, but it is a close thing sometimes! To be safe, measure your chair from the widest point to the widest point. Then you can say I need doorways to be no narrower than XYZ. Please note: If you have a piece of equipment bigger than a wheelchair, e.g. a hoist, measure that instead. Bit obvious but still worth pointing out, you want the doorway/s to admit you and anything else you might need.

4) Is there an accessible bathroom with a wet room?

I need a wet room, as I can’t access a bath or any bathing setup that isn’t flat. Obviously, you could change this to whatever setup you prefer.

5) Are there grab bars next to the toilet, fixed to the wall?

Again, this is very specific to me. I cannot transfer without static bars that are fixed to the wall. Fold-up ones lift up as I stand, I’d be there all day! You might need fold-up bars or no bars at all so that a side transfer is possible or enough space around the toilet to use a hoist. If you’re able enough that a toilet is a toilet, then leave this out.

6) Is there a shower seat fixed to the wall?

A fixed shower seat is the set-up I find most accessible. Hiring a shower chair is an expense, and they are often too high for me to transfer into. There are companies that will lend you equipment, and many deliver to your accommodation, for a fee of course.

You may be wondering why this question didn’t follow the wet room question. The reason is if there isn’t a wet room I can’t stay there, ditto if I can’t access a toilet. Given that, the specifics of the shower are saved until I’ve ascertained the bathroom and toilet space are accessible for me.

7) How high is the bed?

My biggest issue isn’t that I use a wheelchair. It’s my height, together with my disability. I’m 4.8ft, just short enough to make an already challenging transfer that much more difficult! I, therefore, need a low bed. You may need a high bed to make it easier to get out of it in the morning. It’s also worth asking if there is space under the bed itself. If you travel with a hoist or hire one, the last thing you want to discover is that the hoist cannot get close enough to the bed!

8) Are the light switches near the bed?

If you’re like me, you might need assistance in the night, sometimes, however, I just want to roll over and check the time without disturbing people. If the light switch isn’t reachable from the bed, this isn’t possible. It may sound trivial, but I’m no good at routing around in the dark! It also makes things easier and safer when I do need assistance.

9) Do you have adjoining rooms?

This question is more about hotel rooms and is related to the fact that I need assistance. If this doesn’t apply, leave it out, but if I need anything at stupid o’clock, my family or my PAs have the luxury of coming straight to me and not having the honour of traipsing a public area in their PJs! If you are renting a property, then this isn’t needed.

10) Can you email me photos of the property/room type that I’m looking at booking, please?

I will never go anywhere again without first seeing pictures of where I’m staying and the layout. Even after asking all these questions, things can be topsy-turvy upon arrival. Even with the best will in the world, people misunderstand and, in some cases, give completely the wrong information!

Access gone wrong!

Prior to my stay in London, I asked everything I’ve outlined here and received satisfactory answers. Upon arrival, the shower seat was a portable seat that hung over a static grab bar and was VERY shallow. I eventually got my money back as I had one shower over three days, which nearly ended with me and my PA on the floor as the seat wasn’t stable! I did, on this occasion, request pictures, but they weren’t clear, and I took a chance. Businesses should be happy to provide clear images of either where you are staying or a comparable room/building. If they are not, find somewhere more helpful that will accommodate you.

Camera clipart
Clip Art of A Camera

Products to help make your accommodation more accessible

Having found somewhere accessible to stay and phoned the business to ask about access requirements, it’s quite likely that the place you want to stay isn’t perfect and not as straightforward as it would be if you were in your own home. Instead of not going anywhere and staying home (sound familiar?), there are products out there designed to make accessible rooms more accessible to you.

Portable hoist

Everybody is unique, and because we are all unique, our version of accessible is different. What works for one person may not work for another. Some people cannot manage without a hoist to transfer from A to B. This doesn’t have to mean that travel is out of the question. If you are hoisted, chances are, to save space and for convenience, you have a ceiling track in your home. Unfortunately, this isn’t portable. There are, however, portable hoists available for purchase or hire. See the image below. If hiring a hoist, always check the dimensions with the company to be sure that it will fit through doorways.

Hoist
Picture Of A Portable Hoist

No hoist is small by any means, but you can see that the one pictured above does fold and can be moved about. For the purposes of this blog post, all images are taken from mobility websites. I’m not endorsing any particular product, just giving some idea of what’s available. If you use something that I haven’t included in this post. Please get in touch and tell me about it.

Patient transfer aids

If you don’t need a hoist but need some help transferring, there are many disability aids available. You do need to be able to weight bear to use these.

Patient Turner
Patient Turner

A patient turner, like the picture above, is a device that assists you in transferring without putting a strain on the person assisting you. To use; stand on the disc with knees against the pads, holding onto the bar at the top. The bar can also be used to pull yourself up into a standing position, and the patient turner can be wheeled short distances by your PA/carer. I’m not sure how portable they are in practice, but the top bar can be unscrewed for transport on most models.

Patient turntable

Patient turntable
Turntable

The image above is of a patient turntable, a more portable device than the patient turner. The disc turns around, enabling an individual to be assisted from A to B without having to struggle to move their feet and turn their body. To use; stand on the disc, and, with the help of someone else, the movement to turn around is initiated, and the disc turns. This is what I use to get from my wheelchair to bed. By positioning my wheelchair next to the bed, disc on the floor, under my feet, I can stand (with the help of my PA.) The disc turns, and my legs go from being in front of my wheelchair to in front of the bed or vice versa, A 90-degree turn has been achieved, and all I have to do is stand, very portable.

Transfer/Bath Step

I use a bath step because it is very rare that furniture like beds and chairs are low enough for me to transfer onto. Steps like this are sturdy and non-slip and add height for those of us who need a bit of help in that department. I use it together with the turntable above. The step I use is made up of different blocks so that you can add or take away layers as required. It is very useful and, in my case, means I can stay in places where otherwise I would need a specialist bed that is height adjustable.

Transfer/Bath Step
Transfer/Bath Step

Furniture blocks

These blocks come in different heights and in rectangle, square or round shapes. They can be used to make furniture higher, either for transfers or so a hoist can be slid underneath, e.g. a bed. Hotel staff, if asked, will position the feet for you, but the bed, chair, etc., will have to have feet of their own that can be encompassed by the blocks. Again, it is something simple that turns the inaccessible accessible. Many are also stackable for storage.

Portable Ramps

Depending on what steps and access are available, a portable ramp may be a good investment. These can be expensive, but if you’re patient, some good bargains can be found online. I bought a 3ft ramp off eBay last year for £15. It lives in my car boot, so I have it with me when I need it.

Picture Of A Portable Ramp
Picture Of A Portable Ramp

Grab bars

If grab bars have to be in a certain place to be accessible, suction grab bars can make the difference between not being able to stay somewhere and managing. They need to be fixed to the wall by someone with a lot of strength, and having done so, weight should be put through the bar by someone who can cope if the bar falls off the wall. Only then should the person requiring the bar start to use it. Prices start from under £10 to over £100. Some are better at sticking to walls than others. The ones I use are called Mobeli, expensive but worth it.

Grab bar
Grab Bar

Shower seats

If you need something to sit on whilst in the shower, there are plenty of portable seat options, like the one below. However, you do need a degree of balance, which I don’t possess. That’s why I always ask if a shower has a seat attached to the wall. This means I can lean back on the wall for balance and affix a portable grab bar next to me to hold onto. I use a wheeled shower chair at home, but it’s definitely not portable. There are also stools, some of which can be folded. These take up less room in luggage but have no back.

Portable shower seat
Portable Shower Seat

I hope you have enjoyed reading this post and are inspired to begin planning your trips away, ready for when this crisis is over. For now, take care of yourselves. Stay home and stay safe!

Look out for my post: Self-isolation Activities.

Accessible Rooms: How To Make Them More Accessible Read More »

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