As promised, here is my review of the Trabasack Mini and the Trabasack Mini Connect products. These two have been sent free for me to review. As a long time user of Trabasack Products, I will give my honest opinions of these products.
How are these products different to the Trabasack Curve?
In my Trabasack Curve review, I focused on the differences between the wipe clean, leather-look version of the Curve and briefly explained why I chose the non-Connect, velcro version. The main difference between the Mini and the Curve products is shape and size. Whether you choose the Connect version of either product or not the Mini is square and slightly smaller than the Curve.
The beanbag inside both Mini Models of the Trabasack is also square and unlike the Curve, it is a tight squeeze to fit more than one beanbag inside a Trabasack Mini. Having said that I haven’t noticed any instability that has made me think of adding an extra beanbag. It is only because I owned the Curve first that the option occurred to me. The smaller size means that the bag fits nicely on my lap and the beanbag covers more space. This makes both Mini products very sturdy and comfortable to use.
Both Mini versions come with an instruction booklet, two straps, one short, one long. Both have six D-rings each and both come with two ring pull zips. The only difference between them is the tray surface.
Benefits of Mini Connect velcro
The main benefit of the Mini Connect version is that velcro sticks to it. This means that objects stay secure on the tray. Having items stay put can be useful for anybody but particularly for disabled people. The mini Connect can help ensure that items stay within easy reach.
If you are able to view the image above you will see that my TV remote has something wrapped around it. This long accessory, sold by Trabasack is called a MediaMount. The MediaMount is basically a long strip of soft material with velcro all along the underside with two loops at the end to assist people with limited dexterity to grip it. The design means that it sticks to itself and to the Mini connect. This means it can hold items securely and at virtually any angle you want.
Mini Connect and iPad
In my previous review of the Trabasack Curve, I mentioned how I had damaged an iPad case by putting too much velcro on it when placing my iPad onto my Trabasack. This time I was more careful…
This small amount of velcro will keep my iPad secure on my lap but enable me to take it off easily when I want to. Trabasack also sell hook tape so if you need some extra velcro they have you covered. You get two strips in a pack and cut them to any size you need.
This position is very comfortable for watching videos or reading emails.
The main selling point of the Mini version vs Mini Connect is that the surface is wipe-clean. Which one you choose will depend on whether you want to use velcro with your Trabasack or not. Having said that the MediaMount does work with the non-Connect version of the Trabasack Mini. The accessory will still hold things in place it just won’t stick items to the tray surface.
The photo on the left shows the MediaMount wrapped around a cup that is resting on the Trabasack Mini. The photo on the right shows the MediaMount curled around itself with a hole in the middle. This is an excellent position for my iPhone and props it upright. This makes it great for video calling. Unfortunately, I couldn’t show this as I needed my phone to take the photos. The pitfalls of having a device that does everything!
Another thing I use the Trabasack for is reading. I have to say I prefer the Mini version of the product for this over the Curve as its smaller size and square shape is more comfortable for books.
The Mini ensures that I don’t feel the heavy weight of even this big book on my legs! I do slightly prefer the Mini Connect over the Mini in this instance as I can stick the MediaMount onto the Connect Surface to prop the book up at a more comfortable reading angle. I haven’t yet resorted to putting velcro on my books! Thankfully Trabasack products are so stable that I don’t have to.
Both of the Trabasack Mini versions are great. As I use all the products more and more I’m tending to use the Curve as a meal tray and for laptop use and the Mini for everything else. I have got really attached to the Mini Connect with the MediaMount. The main reason I always brought the Trabasack Curve, was because of the bigger lip around the edge. Now with the MediaMount, I have the smaller form factor and a bigger edge all the way around.
Despite its smaller size, it will still comfortably fit my 13inch Macbook Pro inside it.
I think Trabasack says Laptops up to 14 inches for the Curve and Mini Models and up to 17 inches for the Trabasack Max. Whichever model you choose you won’t be disappointed.
Get in touch if you’d like to ask me any questions regarding these or any other products I use. Keep a lookout for my upcoming blog post that I wrote for Access Rating regarding Freedom Day. I also have some useful and innovative products that I will be reviewing for the Disability Horizons shop so keep your eyes peeled!
Trabasack Curve Review My review of the Trabasack Curve. A versatile all in one tray and bag. Inclusive design, useful for those with and without disabilities....
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.
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.
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 because I have a dog! As 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 dog hair and 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 hygienic for food if you have a pet that moults!
The Connect versions are great for anything and everything you want to stay in place which I will be reviewing next week.
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.
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.
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. 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. 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 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!
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. I have leg spasms 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!
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 a 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.
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 on the back of my wheelchair.
If you struggle to eat at standard tables or without a tray. 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.
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.
Look out for my review of the Trabasack Mini Connect where I will be adding Velcro to my iPad case, just in a much smaller amount than before!
A lot has happened since I last posted. I stayed in, got somewhat comfortable on zoom and start to accept the way things are. Then the world starts to open up again. I’m not complaining far from it! A lot of little and not so little adjustments are needed to get used to going out again. The whole world is in the same boat. This post is all about the changes that are happening and the adjustments I’m making to get used to my new normal.
Adjusting to wearing a mask
Unless you’re exempt for medical reasons we’ve all had to get used to wearing masks. It’s only now that I’m actually leaving the house that I’m using one. As I also wear glasses. This is extra tricky as the steam meant I could barely see where I was going and sometimes had to remove my glasses for safety. Not very practical as my glasses are as necessary as a mask and thankfully a lot more comfortable!
I received a tip from one of the carers belonging to the agency that assists me. Cross the straps that go behind your ears. This was said very matter of factly. The person assisting me to shower was wearing a mask, gloves and apron in a steamed-up bathroom but her glasses were clear! Having tried various methods suggested by the internet, the next time I ventured out I tried it and to my surprise, it actually works!
Reintroducing myself to eating out
My first meal outside my house since February 2020 happened on the 19th of May 2021. As eating out was an activity my friends and I did at least once a month, it was weird to feel so nervous and not know what to expect, especially as I booked a place we used to visit all the time.
Armed with masks and sensitiser we all turned up. I was twenty minutes late as I realised ten minutes after leaving home that I’d left my handbag behind! Prior to this, the only outings I’d been on were walks to the park or around the block. I hadn’t picked up my handbag in over a year! Madness in itself! Successfully checked into the pub via the track and trace app I cautiously removed my mask. It felt lovely and strange to sit close to people who weren’t my immediate family. I felt like I hadn’t seen my friends in years and also as if I saw them last week and COVID-19 was just a bad dream. Regardless, it felt amazing to catch up!
Menu adjustment perk
Restaurants, pubs cafes etc now have their menus accessible via apps on smartphones. This is so that staff and customers can have less contact and to discourage people from moving around. The pub we were at was offering table service as well but they also had an app which could be used to place your order. I hope this survives after the COVID-19 precautions. It was nice to be able to see what options were available to me rather than having to ask other people. It’s very convenient to be able to place your own order yourself and would be more inclusive for people with hearing and speech difficulties too.
I don’t know whether I’ve mentioned on this blog that I suffer with anxiety. I’ve mentioned how weird but nice it felt to be out. Last year I felt anxious to be stuck in. It’s like my brain has been reprogrammed. As horrible as COVID-19 has been, the lockdown was freeing in a way because I wasn’t worried about getting anywhere or whether a certain place was accessible. Everywhere was shut and suddenly courses/tours and entertainment were online! Living with my family, surrounded by my belongings and my bedroom and bathroom adapted to my needs I no longer had to physically struggle.
Now that I’ve started going out again my old worries are coming back. The flip side to this is that seeing people and being proactive is healing the parts of me that really struggled being in lockdown. I’m a people person, even with anxiety. No situation is without its positives and negatives. I try to be as positive as possible and to organise myself so that my reasons for anxiety are as minimal as possible. Are you feeling anxious about entering the world or even just your street again? I know plenty of people are, even google thinks so…
At the end of April 2021, I was accepted onto the Academy For Disabled Journalists course. This course started last year and is run by Ability Today. I would have never been able to do this course if it wasn’t for the pandemic as Ability Today is based in London. Moving the course online, the organisers have decided that it will continue to be delivered this way after restrictions have lifted. Another example of keeping things as inclusive as possible. I hope places that have offered online resources continue to do so. I have loved being able to go on virtual tours and experiences. While I miss face-to face-interactions, studying online is also easier in lots of ways. I’m really enjoying the course and I have a press pass. Look out world, (when restrictions are over, obviously!) At the end of the ADJ, I receive a Certificate in Foundation Journalism.
I’m going to be learning skills and knowledge to get me closer to my dream of being a travel writer. Although I’m really looking forward to the video unit. If you suddenly notice a change in my content then this course is probably why. Writing is still my go-to though I don’t think that will ever change.
Since I started writing this post I’ve received confirmation that I have my care package fully funded! I’ll write more details about it later on but it didn’t seem right not to mention it as I’ve used this blog as my catharsis surrounding my care struggles. The only way is up says Yazz and I happen to agree. Until next time.
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 people of all disabilities. 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.
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. This 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, sensory equipment to name but a few. There was also a handy login link included.
Accessing the event
Logging in was simple thanks to the link I was sent.
A top tip: copy and paste the 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.
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 making it difficult to know what to look at first as I had to scroll to see what was available.
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.
These 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.
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 WAV’s (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.
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 PA’s/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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Due to a certain well-known virus, most of us aren’t going anywhere at the moment but I said I’d write this 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 one for a wheelchair user is steps. I always specify the exact thing I need or don’t need. Using the example of steps above 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 then 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.
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 choice 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 widest point to 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 set up 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 as I find hired shower chairs 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 specific’s of the shower are saved until I’ve ascertained the bathroom and toilet space are accessible.
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!
9) Do you have adjoining rooms?
This question is more for hotel rooms and 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 PA’s have the luxury of coming straight to me and not having the honour of traipsing a public area in their PJ’s! 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 your staying or a comparable room/building. If they are not, find somewhere more helpful who will accommodate you.
Products to help make your accommodation more accessible
Having found somewhere accessible to visit 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.
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.
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 and 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.
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.
A patient turner, like the picture above, is a device that assists you to transfer 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.
The image above is of a patient turntable, a more portable device then the patient turner. The disc turns around, enabling an individual to be assisted from A to B without having to struggle to move 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, 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.
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, 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.
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.
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 brought 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.
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.
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.
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: Things to keep you entertained while self-isolating
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