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College and wheelchairs or scooters. - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
College and wheelchairs or scooters.
I have a rather difficult decision to make. It's whether I'm going back to College next term (at the start of May) or in September. Yes, because of the way that college fees work, I only have the choice of going back at the start of a term. I can't go back in the middle of a term, or over the long summer that is a break for undergraduates but part of the normal routine for postgrads. Gods damnit.

The argument is as follows: I'm not going to be better enough to do very much in May; but waiting until September is plain stupid. I'll get frustrated and behind. Really, I want to go back in June or July, but that isn't an option. Bah.

So I have to figure out getting some extra support from my Disabled Student's Allowance. The Disability Office at College reckons I shouldn't need to have a "top-up" Needs Assessment, I should simply need "some hefty medical evidence", but that still requires effort on my part. And I'm not exactly sure what I need in order to manage at College. Things that might be suggested are:
* a Personal Assistant to help with a manual wheelchair
* taxis all the way from home to College
* an electric wheelchair/scooter

I can't use a manual wheelchair without help because London pavements are absolutely terrible. I simply don't have the strength to push myself around, except indoors. So it's get help with a manual wheelchair, or get an electric wheelchair.

I don't know. I'm pretty uncertain about getting a random stranger as a PA, because I have enough problems using my Library Assistant funding. I feel too guilty and uncomfortable having someone I don't know sitting in the library with me waiting for me to need a book. Oh sure, they're being paid to be there, but it makes me anxious. I think I'd feel triply anxious if the person I didn't know was pushing my wheelchair - sometimes I get panicky when Richard apparently launches me into a stream of traffic. I really don't want a stranger doing that, and then sitting around while I do work for me to need help with moving myself again.

There is the option of asking someone I know to be my PA, but the DSA payment would only appear on proof that the person is paying tax and National Insurance. It would probably mean doing a Tax Return, which is sufficiently stressful as to provide a serious disincentive.

I'd much prefer to get an electric wheelchair or scooter so I can get myself around. Even if I have to pay for it myself. But there's a lot of things I don't know. The principal ones, which are technically Google-able except that I am totally out of spoons for today are:

1) Can you rent a scooter by the day, or is it always by the week?

2) Can you take scooters into London taxis? Are their ramps strong enough?

3) If I have to pay for it myself, would it be cheaper to buy a scooter from eBay rather than renting one?

4) How much life does a typical scooter battery have on it, and how do you go about charging scooter batteries?

5) Are you allowed to take electric scooters into academic reference libraries? (British Library and UCL Science Library being the main ones - and this will probably need an email to the Disability Liaison person rather than being found online).

This is all hurting my head.

Also, are there any livejournal (or dreamwidth) communities for people with disabilities/chronic health conditions other than chronic_health, malingerers and sicklygoth, all of which are dead? I can see why it happens - people run out of spoons so stop posting, but it's rather eurgh when you need advice. Really, I want some sort of UK-focused community, since at least half the questions above are very locality-specific.

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Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

17 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
polyfrog From: polyfrog Date: 6th April 2011 03:44 (UTC) (Link)
I can help at least with 4(b): All the scooters I've seen here in the US have the charging circuitry onboard, and a mains plug. You could plug it in more or less anywhere you've stopped for a while, assuming there was an outlet.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 04:21 (UTC) (Link)
This news article suggests that the newer London taxis can take electric wheelchairs, but in practice actually getting a taxi when you're in a wheelchair can be problematic:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7294746.stm

(The relevant quote about the electric wheelchairs: "As Ms Bashall uses a large electric wheelchair, we're on the look-out for one of the newer, wider TX cabs." 4th paragraph.)

The suitability of the TX4 for electric wheelchairs is confirmed here: http://www.worldcarfans.com/10610195939/new-british-built-tx4-taxi-world-launch
baratron From: baratron Date: 6th April 2011 16:35 (UTC) (Link)
Hmm, that could mean having an account and booking, rather than picking up the first taxi that comes along. Thanks!
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 17:25 (UTC) (Link)
You're welcome!
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 04:31 (UTC) (Link)
In partial answers to question 4, I found a site with a range of scooters and some data on them, and:

* Scooters tend to have ranges of about 16-20 miles, with some as low as 11 and some as high as 38. (That's 25-32km typical, 18km low, 60 high)

* Typical top speed of a scooter is somewhere between 4 and 7 miles per hour (6 to 11 km/hour).

* Batteries take 8-16 hours for a full recharge.

* Batteries typically need to be replaced after a year or so.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 04:45 (UTC) (Link)
Here's a list of scooter rental places in London -- as it says, few of them advertise rates. Someone with extrovert spoons and located in the UK (or able to easily call there) could call and ask:
http://www.disabledinfo.co.uk/dis/81-hire-of-powered-wheelchairs-and-scooters-in-london.asp

The two places that advertise rates are listed at 35 pounds/week. However, that seems to be a long-term rate (or else outdated), as the actual rates for the one with a website are 50 pounds for one week, 150 pounds for 4 weeks, or 200 pounds for 6 weeks: http://www.independent-living.co.uk/hire_products.php?category=Mobility (They also mention ranges of 8 to 20 miles, so apparently the ones I was looking at earlier didn't cover the whole range.)

Meanwhile, this list is all-UK, and at least a couple of the ones outside London mention daily hire, so it seems likely that one of the places that serves London would also be able to do that:
http://disabled-help.webeden.co.uk/wheelchair-hire/4514808964
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 04:54 (UTC) (Link)
Another couple of vendor sites that might be useful:

http://www.gblwheelchairs.com/ -- apparently run by wheelchair users, they do hire as well as sales, but no prices on the site. One of the featured items on their products page is pink tires (for non-electric wheelchairs), which struck me as a good sign of believing that people actually live in these things.
(Also, their two sale specials seem pretty good coverage of the range of scooter types, based on what I've seen: http://www.gblwheelchairs.com/shop/list/category/SP/)

http://www.directmobility.co.uk/ -- just a hire organization. With a spectacularly bad website.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 04:59 (UTC) (Link)
And: http://www.buckinghamengineering.co.uk/, again with no useful information on the website about rates.

http://www.shopmobilityuk.org/ seems to be an organization of places that hire scooters, and it sounds like they are oriented towards the sorts of things that would be daily or even hourly rentals. I didn't look into their website very far; that might be something useful for the next helpful person to do.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 05:06 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, and last bit of data: Scooters seem to run about 1000-1200 pounds new, equivalent to 30-36 weeks of hire. I haven't looked up what the used ones cost from eBay.

(There is probably some benefit to hiring rather than buying in that you don't have to worry about maintenance, as well.)
baratron From: baratron Date: 6th April 2011 16:54 (UTC) (Link)
The cheapest scooters in the disability shop up the road are £800, but I know nothing about the features to be able to compare them.

The main reason I want to hire one is that I don't want use of one to become a permanent thing, if you see what I mean? I'm thinking that if I have to give it back, I have more incentive to get well enough to be able to walk again. Might be twisted, I'm not sure.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 17:24 (UTC) (Link)
That makes quite a lot of sense to me. The other thing about hiring one is that it seems like the sort of thing where there may be things you want that you don't know you want until you've tried one out for a while.
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 6th April 2011 05:03 (UTC) (Link)
Also, here are the relevant websites for the disability access for the two libraries you mentioned (both are reasonably wheelchair-friendly, no mention of scooters), with contact information for their disability liasons:

http://www.ucl.ac.uk/Library/disabil.shtml (matthew.reynolds@ucl.ac.uk)

http://www.bl.uk/whatson/planyourvisit/disabled/ (visitor-services@bl.uk)
thekumquat From: thekumquat Date: 6th April 2011 11:42 (UTC) (Link)
www.wheelfreedom.com are based next to Battersea Park station and very helpful at getting you the right size wheelchair and can deliver.

Re other questions - the libraries it would be a 'can you physically fit a scooter', so I'm pretty sure the BL would be OK.

A scooter user at BiCon simply needed somewhere to park the scooter next to a plug socket, but not sure if that's always the case for scooters.

May I suggest www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbouch for the BBC Ouch! messageboards where uk people have loads of relevant expertise?
barakta From: barakta Date: 6th April 2011 16:12 (UTC) (Link)
Based on what we offer at work We could probably store a chair for you if you just wanted it on campus.... We also were able to help ppl link in with building staff for charging it, storage while in lectures or if only needed it outside or you could charge it in a classroom (they may require it to be PAT tested but should be able to test it for you).

The ones we've just had to get rid of (can't lend to studes cos of insurance) were quiter BULKY but you can get smaller ones and they just have a small car battery sized brick which we kept in the front basket and just plugged the XLR type connector into the cable and then standard wall plug.

I think they have 2-5hrs continuous battery and this will deteriorate over time but can have batteries replaced.

I think you'd do well to think about how it would actually be useful. So something like identifying each possible route and whether you'd walk or scooter, where you'd need permission (or just FDI) to charge it.

You could look for manuals online for scooters before ebay looking, and also try some out at local places. I also recommend BBC ouch as good place of ppl who have done this before.

I'll probably come back to you with more. I might email you if it's not something I can stick on LJ.
baratron From: baratron Date: 6th April 2011 17:04 (UTC) (Link)
Here's a question you might be able to answer: does Disabled Students' Allowance ever fund rental of equipment rather than purchase?

I can see them quibbling about buying me a scooter because I would have it to use every day, not just on College days. But if they funded rental of a scooter, then obviously they would only be paying when I am in College... I'd have to come up with some sort of timetable, which is impossible when you're a postgrad :S

Already gone through the routes. College to British Library would be SO much easier in a scooter than it is in a taxi. It's the sort of distance which a healthy person would walk.

I don't understand FDI?

Tell me to check my email if you do send something there - or send it to the one that's my real name at Gmail. I haven't been reading email at all, too much near-spam (mailing list stuff that I'm technically interested in but NOT NOW).
barakta From: barakta Date: 6th April 2011 17:52 (UTC) (Link)
I think DSA would probably say it was a mobility expense not a DSA expense but it could very much depend. To get your DSA amended you (and or) your disability advisor can contact your assessor (or the centre) directly and ask. My impression is they don't mind being asked and it's *their* responsibility to be clear about "No, that's out of DSA remit" or "Yes we could consider that but I need evidence" or "Yep no probls I'll fwd that to SFE for approval for you". Oh and you will need someone (dis officer) to chase SFE they're taking weeks on our magic dis officer email (there's a 24 hr SLA) "cos we've got high volume" (no shit, you just opened DSA for 2011-2012 Sherlock! Why didn't you up the staff) so need someone to phone and get them to sort ASAP.

Citing the scooter as an alternative to all-the-way taxis may work or may not. Again I'd see if you could talk to the needs assessor or see what your dis officer advises. There's no obligations to go through dis office although it's useful for them to know if you're discussing it.

Personally I'd buy a scooter - certainly I've seen them for as low as £3-500 new somewhere but couldn't cite it I'm afraid. You can always sell it and you're not stuck with some DSA issue of whether you use it at home/uni/elseplace or not. I think the DSA would be bureaucratic hassle. I don't think owning one would make you any more or less inclined to be ill - they're sufficient hassle that you'd almost certainly not want. Also that's a very able-bodied people assumption about mobility aids (even temp ones) which I think is well worth nixing in ours as well as anyone else's heads ;$ Hell my Godmother refused to wear glasses cos it'd make her eyes lazy (her daughter is an optician) and told my mum not to use TV subtitles cos it'd make mum's brain lazy - my mum's dyslexic with phonological processing issues not stupid.

I'

FDI = fucking do it, sorry an extract from "Just fucking do it". Sometimes stress of bureaucrazy eats more spoons than just hammering it if that makes sense.

Oh and I totally understand re personal assistance hassle, it's WEIRD employing someone and feels very strange.

This comment made of no structure whatsoever cos I'm very tired. Hope it still makes sense.
baratron From: baratron Date: 6th April 2011 18:11 (UTC) (Link)
The key point, if I understand it, was having SFE fund a scooter as an alternative to funding a personal assistant. Which would be a study-related expense if the person is taking me to/round College!

I don't know. My spoons for dealing with hassle right now are virtually non-existent. "Free" money is all very well, but I'm not even sure if I'll have the energy to go back to College next term, let alone to fight for access stuff.

It's also clear that I have No Fucking Idea about scooters because I've been looking through the sites for half an hour or so, and my brain feels like it's exploding. Too much information that I don't understand. I mean, I can READ statistics of length and width and mass perfectly well, but I can't imagine how big that size is.

The comment was fine apart from the random "I'" :)
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