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High rollers! Don’t let a wheelchair hold you back

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cruise formal night

When planning my family vaycay or weekends away with the wider family, one of the things I am aware of is wheelchair accessibility. My immediate family of four are all on our own two feet, but my step-father David is in a wheelchair and my mother is his full time carer. However we don’t let a wheelchair hold us back. We still do everything we want to do.

When my children were younger we were quite the party; wheelchairs, pushchairs, a lively 5 year old and all the baggage that a group like this requires. My mum would be responsible for David’s needs so I would be the organiser of everything, tickets, boarding passes, arranging assistance at the places we were staying, booking taxis, making sure everyone’s needs were met and getting us all from A to B safely without losing anyone or anything. My husband brought the muscle, he would be the baggage handler at airport carousels and the minibus driver, between us we would manage the young children (including a baby) and my mum would take care of David – we all had our hands full! But we wouldn’t have it any other way.

nice family shot

My husband & kids; Mum & David plus my brother and his family

The fact that our family has to be conscious of wheelchair accessibility and having disabled facilities when travelling has not stopped us from travelling. Together we have been to Australia and back, Dubai, France, Singapore, Italy and the USA and we have also taken 5 cruises together. We love to get out and about and see things and experience life. My mum has done incredibly well in that she looks after David in their own home with no outside help. Anyone who has cared for a person with a disability knows that it is not easy. It is not the same as nursing a sick person back to health through a period of temporary downtime. It is often complex, involves serious conversations with medical professionals, it involves heavy lifting, all the household responsibilities of cooking and cleaning, sometimes extra cleaning than an able bodied household would find ‘normal’ and it is relentless. There is no ‘rest’ or respite. You are constantly putting someone else’s needs first and trying to get on with your life in as normal a way as possible. But there is no ‘normal’.

With all the responsibilities and challenges that a disability within the family brings, it also brings with it a lot of love and lightness. There is a depth of humility that our family has, my children know that there are other people with needs that may have to come before their own. They know patience, that some people need more time than others to do the things that most of us do without thinking. They also have been fortunate to travel the world with Grandma and Grandpa, seeing things we could not have afforded to take them to, if we were footing the bill on our own. As one big extended family, we have learned to support each other when we are away together, balancing family together time with an individual need for privacy, so that every member of the group feels that they have had a holiday and a rest – becoming refreshed again to have the energy that our day to day life requires.

cruise formal night

Disability doesn’t have to mean that you miss out on life – even if it is easier sometimes to stay at home with all your facilities and privacy around you. Doing this makes your world small and turns living into a grind. You have to retain perspective, and you achieve this by getting out into the world and mixing with other people. By speaking to people from other cultures, by seeing how other families with disabilities cope when they are out and about. By being organised and having the meds you need to hand, but also by winging it a bit and daring to expand your comfort zone – eat in a new place or drive to an unfamiliar location.

The Motability Scheme helps disabled people get out and about by leasing cars, scooters and powered wheelchairs. They have some ideas on their website for accessible days out and financial help may also be available to lease a car.

They have worked with Rough Guides to produce The Rough Guide to Accessible Britain which is available free online at this website and contains more than 200 recommendations for great days out for disabled visitors and their families. It shares the information you need such as what disabled facilities are available including the disabled parking spots etc.

If you have a disability or live with someone who does, get the guide – it is brilliant for ideas and I hope that you found my story useful. If you don’t have a disability, then I hope that this post has provided some insight as to what daily life could be like for those who do live with disability. I haven’t gone into too much detail to respect the privacy of my family members but raising awareness of disabilities and what they could involve is a good thing all round so that we can all be more tolerant of each other.

Port Canaveral Florida

Also, whilst I’m on this subject, and I rarely use my blog as a platform to preach, but on this occasion I will, with no apology: PLEASE, please, please do not park in a disabled parking space unless you are a blue badge holder. It absolutely breaks my heart when I see people just using the spot for their convenience when they are able bodied and walking on their own two legs. It is true that not every disability is able to be seen so obviously as a wheelchair, hence the need for the blue badge scheme. Plus in some cases (like my mother) she will use the disabled spot even though she is on her two legs, as she is going to the pharmacy to collect a prescription for David, or going to the Post Office to collect his pension. So the carers of the disabled may need to use the disabled parking spot whilst on the business of the disabled – however they will have a blue badge on display.

For an able bodied, non- blue badge holding person to take up a disabled parking spot is ignorant. Don’t think ‘it doesn’t matter’ or ‘I’ll only be 5 minutes’ or ‘there are loads of spaces available here’ when you are taking up a parking space that a blue badge holder would need. It really does matter. Anyway, soapbox speech over! I know that the majority of people are conscientious about this and would not be so misinformed that the only time they would want a disability is to save them walking a few extra minutes when there are those who would give anything to park in the spots meant for everyone else.

Do let me know of any great accessible days out or holidays that you have been on, in the comments!

Article Categories:
Lifestyle · Travel

Comments to High rollers! Don’t let a wheelchair hold you back

  • Such lovely photos of you all and it is great that you have all had so many positive experiences together as a family as a wheelchair shouldn’t mean that a person can’t travel. It sounds as though you are an amazingly supportive family as it is really hard work to be a full time carer. I also agree about the parking too, it is so selfish that people use the bays when they have no right to do so.

    Nikki Thomas 9th August 2016 6:52 pm Reply
    • Thank you Nikki. We are all supportive of each other as a family – not to say there aren’t frayed nerves and upsets from time to time, but all in all we all do our best! Thanks for commenting.

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:51 pm Reply
  • Wow good on David not letting his wheelchair stop him from living life to the full snd he is lucky having such a supportive family round him. I can’t believe anyone would park in the disabled parking bays who doesn’t have the right to – some people can be so selfish – Grrr!

    Louise 9th August 2016 9:11 pm Reply
    • Thanks Louise – David never complains, he’s brilliant and my mum works really hard too. We love having so much time on holiday together.

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:52 pm Reply
  • That cruise picture of you all is beautiful and so glad your family holidays have been successful. Mich x

    Michelle Twin Mum 9th August 2016 9:17 pm Reply
    • Thanks Mich x

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:52 pm Reply
  • What great photos. My mum’s mobility was affected by her arthritis and sometimes she had to use a wheelchair. Life is very different from that level. After my major op I had to be in a wheelchair for a cule of weeks and hated it.

    Jen Walshaw 9th August 2016 9:45 pm Reply
    • Yes, it’s easy to take our mobile bodies for granted until something makes you know what it is like for those with disabilities. I don’t tolerate laziness at home from the kids when they don’t want to get up off their chairs to do something / get something. I’m always saying that they have legs that work – use them! Thanks for commenting.

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:54 pm Reply
  • I think the world has got better at accommodating disabled and people in wheelchairs but there is still a long way to go. I have to say that when travelling with a friend in a wheelchair, airline staff were simply amazing and it is quite nice getting to be last on and first off *cough*. People that park in disabled spaces that don’t need them make me cross too

    Kara Guppy 10th August 2016 1:42 pm Reply
    • Hi Kara, yes the airports and airline staff are brilliant with disabilities – we always get porter assistance at the airport which is great as the staff know exactly where to go for our gate so we never get lost! We are always the opposite boarding an aircraft though – first onboard and last off but it’s better this way as we have time to get organised before the crowds get onboard!

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:56 pm Reply
  • Brilliant photos, it looks like you don’t let the wheelchair stop you all having a great time together as a family.

    Emma 10th August 2016 8:03 pm Reply
    • Thank you – we don’t! It can often take us more time to do stuff than it otherwise would, but we do it all the same!

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:58 pm Reply
  • I love this post. My grandmother was in a wheelchair in her later life as she suffered with Parkinson’s disease. She never let it stop her going out and about. We all helped out as a family to make sure she was well looked after. Your pictures are lovely too x

    Louise 10th August 2016 10:27 pm Reply
    • Ah, thank you! How lovely that you all worked together to support your grandmother. It’s important to look after our family. x

      Nadine Hill 11th August 2016 12:59 pm Reply
  • I love how close you are as a family and I completely agree with you about parking in disabled spaces!

    Cass@frugalfamily 12th August 2016 7:23 pm Reply
  • So glad nothing is getting in the way of your families adventures 🙂 Lovely pictures x

    Karen Langridge 21st August 2016 6:30 pm Reply
    • Thanks for your comment Karen x

      Nadine Hill 23rd August 2016 3:14 pm Reply
  • Wow, you are the spitting image of your mum! Lovely pic there, you all look so relaxed and happy. Great example of how to enjoy life and have empathy for those with disabilities. Personally I think it should be taught as a topic in school…. x

    Steph Curtis 20th September 2016 2:23 pm Reply
    • Thanks Steph, my mum is ace – very young looking I think. I hope I age as well! x

      Nadine Hill 21st September 2016 10:36 am Reply

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