Anyone who has had kids knows what a faff it is to get them in the car, strapped into their car seat and then squeeze all their bits and bobs in around them. When your child is a wheelchair user its about 500 times harder.
Until William was 5 years old we had a standard car. He sat in the back seat and we could collapse his wheelchair and pop it in the boot. But 5 year olds are heavy. And their wheelchairs weigh a ton!
Lifting him and his wheelchair in and out of the car constantly was doing my back no good at all. All that twisting was causing me hip problems and nipping to the shops was no longer a possibility.
That’s why we started considering a WAV (wheelchair adapted vehicle).
I didn’t much fancy driving a van around, and I loved my Touran, but something had to give and I was worried it would be my health.
We tried out a couple of different vans but settled on the VW Transporter which had enough space for Williams additional equipment to be carried with us when needed (toilet seat, hi-lo chair, even a trike would fit in the back with him).
But the down payment on these things is horrific, and with Motability you have to change your vehicle every 5 years so you need to plan for the future and consider whether you can make that payment again.
We were lucky in securing a grant from Motability which meant our down payment was significantly reduced, but we have no idea if we will be eligible for that again when we need to upgrade.
We chose a side loading lift for Williams wheelchair so that we could have him sitting close behind us and still be able to get him in and out of the van if there was additional equipment behind him.
It’s enough of a faff getting him in and out as it is without having to unload everything each time. You can read more about why we chose this one here.
This van has been a life changer.
Yes, it is still a faff to load him up and popping to the shops takes at least an additional 20 minutes, but we no longer have to lift him, or his wheelchair. My back gets a much needed rest and he is comfortable and secure in his chair.
We have recently asked Motability to provide an open insurance policy so that William can go out with his PAs (carers) in it.
It was simple to do, we simply needed proof that William has carers looking after him (a letter from PA, carers agency or proof of direct payments is adequate) and now anyone can drive it as long as it is for William’s benefit.
So if you at the stage when you know you need a WAV but you really don’t want one, don’t despair.
It is a big adjustment but it is also a game changer and makes life so much easier, I don’t regret it for a minute.