Wheelchair access, and ensuring your environment is accessible, is a challenge at the best of times, so sprinkle a little chaos into the mix; such as that experienced over the festive period, and suddenly navigating your way through your home and the homes of loved ones can become quite a chore.
Needless to mention there’s also the odd occupational hazard just waiting to rear its ugly head – such as unexpected snow storms and icy footpaths!
Snow at Christmas; it’s a nightmare for Wheelchair Users!
Let’s start with that last point – snow! If you’re a wheelchair user yourself then you’ll know all too well the perrels that accompany the cold, white, powdery stuff! Wheelchair wheels (both manual and powered wheelchairs) have a tendency to get stuck in the snow and render the user completely immobile. To counter these issues, it’s important to try and ensure someone is on hand to grit (a mixture of salt and sand) any pathways leading to your home, ahead of any impending snow storms. Likewise, if you’re aware of incoming snow, it may be worth reaching out to your local authorities to remind them to clear any snowfall from public areas such as high streets, entrances to hospitals, and more. You could say that local governments have a civic obligation to ensure public services are accessible to all – regardless of uncontrollable weather fronts. Where steps can be taken to lessen the blow of such occasions, it’s advisable that you yourself remain ‘on the ball’ and vigilant to any potential slacking.
Christmas Decorations and getting around the home as a Wheelchair User
Poor access doesn’t stop there though, and it’s also not reserved solely for out in public. Christmas can present obstacles for disabled people even within their own homes – with increased furniture, fixtures and fittings (such as Christmas trees, piles of presents and other ornamental decorations) wreaking havoc for those using wheelchairs, walking frames, or any other form of walking aid to get around. It’s important to plan where you’re going to put everything this year, and ensure that enough space is left for you to safely maneuver around the home. These same practices should be emphasised to loved ones too, or to anyone you’re planning on visiting over the Christmas period. There’s nothing worse than turning up at a friends, or relatives home and realising that you can’t get in for all the fancy decorations that weren’t there a couple of months previous!
How to Prepare for a Christmas Party if you’re a Wheelchair User
What happens if family members are planning to go to a restaurant for a Christmas meal? It may seem obvious to mention, but you’d be amazed how often we forget to call ahead and enquire about access when visiting new locations. Christmas is a busy time of year, too, so it’s doubly important to ensure that there’ll be no unwelcome surprises when you arrive – as there may be no opportunity to book an alternative location at such short notice – especially if it’s on Christmas day! The same advice can be said for attending Christmas parties. Whether it’s a work’s do, or a night out with friends – cover your own back by contacting venues ahead of time to make sure they have all the necessary access requirements to suit your own personal needs. It pays to be assertive and productive in this manner, and it means you can be free from worry and ready to have the time of your life once out!
Finally (and this one goes without saying) don’t forget to over indulge. Everyone does it! If you don’t eat your own body weight in sweet mince pies and then fall asleep in front of the TV watching dodgy Christmas movies, then was it really Christmas at all?
If you’ve enjoyed this article and would like to find others, such as; ‘a wheelchair accessible home: seven areas to improve’, then please check out the rest of Invacare’s Passionate People blog site. Oh, and remembers guys – have a very merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year!