Plan to roll out a new testing ground for new wheelchair users

Posted on December 16, 2016 by AireAdmin No Comments

Airedale Hospital’s mobility team is seeking sponsorship to create a new testing ground on site to help keep new electric wheelchair users safe whilst manoeuvring.

For the past 20 years they have teamed up with Bradford Council’s road safety team to run driving tests for their patients to help them learn how best to use electric wheelchairs safely.

They use a specific route along the hospital corridors and around the site for adults and children. It includes zebra crossings and users practice emergency stops, go up narrow and windy paths of different gradients with kerb climbing and get advice about how to contend with traffic and parked cars around the hospital.

Now the team want to take it a step further and transform a courtyard within the hospital into a purpose-built site for people who have just been given a wheelchair with mixed terrain and ramps of different levels.

Dawn Osborne lead wheelchair therapist at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It’s really useful working with the road safety officers who give their time free of charge and help us to make the tests independent and consistent.

“We do everything we can to support participants until they pass their test when they receive a certificate. It isn’t a legal requirement to offer these tests but we think it’s a vital partnership venture to help keep people in wheelchairs safe and also to help protect pedestrians.”

Alan Stockport, rehabilitation engineer at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We do lots of coaching for people to help them feel comfortable when they first get their wheelchairs, but it’s still quite scary for them making that transition from manual chairs to power-driven ones.

“It’s so heart-warming to watch a child who has mobility problems whizzing around in their new wheelchair full of joy as they get a new sense of freedom and independence.”

The team are seeking sponsorship from wheelchair manufacturers, suppliers and local businesses to get all the equipment they need to turn their courtyard into an initial training ground.  They are also appealing for people who use the hospital to take extra care when parking as blocking zebra crossings and pathways creates a risk for both pedestrians and wheelchair users.

Some tips from the team to keep wheelchair users safe are:

  • Wear something bright when you are travelling outside
  • Make sure your chair is in good condition and regularly serviced by your mobility team
  • Always carry your mobile phone in case you run into difficulties
  • Take extra care in car parks as manoeuvring cars can create an added danger
  • Don’t hang heavy bags on the wheelchair as this can affect its balance.

Anyone interested in supporting the team’s new venture can contact by email: michelle.west@anhst.nhs.uk

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