Wheelchair crisis – a personal story

The following blog is from a member left in a crisis when abandoned by Doncaster w/c services:

I am a 48 year old Disabled woman who uses a wheelchair full time (the wheels are, effectively, my legs).

Having only had the chair serviced on 3rd December, I was rather surprised when, by 12th December at approximately 3.20pm, a gaping horizontal split had appeared in the left tyre.

I immediately contacted Doncaster Wheelchair Services and was told that the only van they have was in Thorne and couldn’t get to me before closing time. Also, as rotas for the week beginning 15th December have been done, and there is no guarantee of a call out being made, it was suggested I use a taxi to get to Wheelchair Services at Tickhill Road Hospital before 4.10pm myself. After trying two taxi services and having no joy because they were on school runs, I eventually said the chair would be taken into Wheelchair Services on 15th December in a taxi by a relative.

I’m writing this email on Saturday, 13th December from my bed and I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. The chair is unsafe to use as the rubber tyre is now making its way off the metal wheel rim. My 73 year old mother has been called in to help with feeding and toileting issues; she and my sister are sharing night duties until Monday when they will be relieved by my sister in law – the same relative who will have to leave me to take the chair to Wheelchair Services.

The lack of an emergency repair service for situations like mine quickly develops into a crisis. As a result of this weekend’s events:

1. I have been forced to spend three days in bed; there is a fine line between spending a couple of lazy extra hours in bed and being trapped because of circumstances beyond my control.
2. My emergency evacuation plan is no longer valid because I cannot get to my recommended safe place in the event of a fire in my bungalow.
3. My independence has been severely compromised as I am now completely dependent on other people’s help.
A vet’s practice has an emergency call out service if your pet dog breaks its leg; why is there no emergency service now that my ‘leg’ ie my wheelchair, is broken?

My current situation makes me wonder if the people who commission these services really understand Disability Issues and involve Disabled people, in their planning and decision making processes