Month: August 2020

Disabled Facilities: Do You Abuse Them? I Bet You Have!

Disabled Facilities: Do You Abuse Them? I Bet You Have! – Disabled facilities are there to help disabled people achieve the same daily tasks able-bodied people take for granted. By abusing these facilities, you are preventing us from living our daily life as you expect to live yours…..Without fighting for your basic human rights!!

Disabled Toilets: How Many Times Have You Used One?

My life as a wheelchair user is difficult enough with the barriers I face on a daily basis. Shops I’m unable to enter due to lack of access, card readers too high/too far back to reach when paying for my shopping, people leaning on my wheelchair like I’m some sort of leaning post, derogatory comments etc, the list truly is endless.

Disabled Facilities:  Do You Abuse Them?  I Bet You Have!  -  Disabled toilet fitted with handrails, changing table.

So when I need to use the toilet and an able-bodied person walks out of the disabled toilet, I’m angry, why? Well, one of the reasons is I suffer from IBS, it is one of the most unpredictable illnesses I suffer from. The urgency one feels when having an attack is frightening, so when you are made to wait for probably the only disabled toilet available and a non-disabled person walk out, why wouldn’t I be furious.

I have been close more times than I care to mention to having an “accident” because someone’s selfishness has made me wait for a disabled toilet unnecessarily. Who wants that? I certainly don’t, especially when it could have been avoided!

Changing places toilets

Changing places toilets are important to many disabled people as they have a changing table for those that need assistance going to the toilet. This is obviously much more preferable than having to lie down on dirty, wet, urine-stained flooring, which is what has to happen if a changing places toilet is not available or present. You really would be disgusted and angry if it was your child or family member who had to lie on this kind of filthy flooring.

Most standard Men & Ladies toilets have more than one cubicle/urinal for use. To use and take away what is normally the only disabled toilet available is not only selfish but inconsiderate to those of us that have medical reasons for “needing” to use a toilet urgently.

Please in future, be more mindful of which toilet you use.

Disabled Parking Bays: You Will Only Be Two Minutes, So It’s OK!

I’m fed up the number of times I’ve been told, “I’ll only be a minute”, “I’m just popping to cash machine, I won’t be long”!! I don’t care how long you will be!!! IT IS ILLEGAL to park in a disabled parking bay without a blue badge. Currently, the average fine for parking illegally in an enforceable disabled person parking bay is £30 this can rise to a maximum of £1000. Personally, I don’t believe that’s much of a deterrent!!

Car parked in a disabled bay with no blue badge on display

Rule 241 of the Highway Code says:

You MUST NOT park in parking spaces reserved for specific users, such as Blue Badge holders, residents or motorcycles unless entitled to do so. Source: www.gov.uk – Highway Code

Parking in a disabled bay illegally can mean the difference between me completing my task, shopping, Dr’s/hospital appointment, attending a meeting or having to turn around and go back home again. There have been numerous occasions where I have had to go home without being able to do whatever it was I set out to do and that is the key here, not being able to do what I want/need to do!

Your selfishness and inconsideration have a detrimental effect on my daily life, you can not begin to understand the strain my body goes through when I have to get in/out of my wheelchair to get in/out of the car. Not once but 4 times just to do one trip!! It can take up to 2 days for my body to recover, so no, I am not tolerant of your behaviour……Why should I be!!

I wonder how tolerant you would be about these inconsiderate actions if I were the one telling you that “I will only be a minute, just popping to the cash machine”, or “I’m just dropping this letter off”? If this was a daily occurrence in your life, how accepting would you be?

Wheelchair Space on Buses: You Didn’t Fight For Them, Yet Happy to Prevent Those That Did From Using Them!


Well, where do I start with this one? Oh yes, disabled people fought and fought for these spaces, year after year, after year until finally, we succeeded. Then, along came buggy pushers and thought it quite acceptable to use these spaces when a wheelchair user needs it, you know, the ones we disabled people fought for! The space that has that lovely big blue sticker stating priority wheelchair area. Exactly!!!

Where were all the buggy pushers when we were fighting for this space? Hmmm? exactly! Yet now the hard work has been done and the wheelchair space is now implemented, you are happy to take advantage of the wheelchair space provided for wheelchair users!!

Now don’t get me wrong, I really have NO objection to buggy pushers using this space, IF ONLY YOU WOULD MOVE WHEN NEEDED BY A WHEELCHAIR USER!!!!! The problem is that quite a lot of you buggy pushers REFUSE blankly to move……The signage is very clear in it’s meaning!! You are more than welcome to use the wheelchair space if NOT NEEDED by a wheelchair user. If it is needed, you MUST MOVE. It really isn’t rocket science you know.

It really does infuriate me when this happens as we wheelchair users only have ONE place we can use on a bus, buggy pushers have other options available to them if they so wish. You are basically taking away our right to travel as able-bodied travellers would expect to travel.

Legal Battle

Mr Paulley successfully sued FirstGroup at Leeds County Court for unlawful discrimination against him due to his disability. However, First Group appealed and the case was finally heard by the Supreme Court. On 18 January 2017, it made a landmark ruling that bus companies must end ‘first come, first served’ policies and do more to cater for wheelchair users. Read more: Equality and Human Right Commission

Conclusion

At the end of the day, like it or not, disabled people are not looking for “special treatment/services”, we just want to be able to live our lives as independently as possible and that does mean adjustments need to be made to standardised services.

Simple example. If your vision is not 20/20, what do you do? You visit an optician to get your eyesight tested, yes? If it turns out that you need glasses, you get them. So why should it be any different for someone who’s legs do not work to not be allowed to use an adapted toilet? How would you feel if you were told you couldn’t have/wear the glasses you “needed” to perform your daily tasks???? Think about that one!!

Disabled people are told daily, they can’t have this, can’t use that all because some of you are too selfish and self-important to even try to understand why we “need” these adaptions.

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Brain Fog: A Heart Attack Side Effect

Brain Fog: A Heart Attack Side Effect – Brain fog can be caused by many many different medical conditions, mine was due to my heart attack a couple of years ago. Brain fog is much more debilitating than most people realise. When brain fog strikes, a person can have trouble remembering things and processing information. They might also find it difficult to concentrate and pay attention, or that their thoughts are disorganised. This describes my brain fog down to a tee!

What is Brain Fog?

According to Healthline.com they say:

“Brain fog isn’t a medical condition itself, but rather a symptom of other medical conditions. It’s a type of cognitive dysfunction involving:

  • Memory problems
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Poor concentration
  • Inability to focus
Brain Fog:  A Heart Attack Side Effect - Brain with an out of order sign

Some people also describe it as mental fatigue. Depending on the severity of brain fog, it can interfere with work or school. But it doesn’t have to be a permanent fixture in your life”.

For me, brain fog affects me in many different ways. I have days where amazing words just fly out of my mouth, like today, when discussing this blog with hubby I was explaining how some days I can’t remember the name of the “item” pen, or simple everyday words and the next, I can come out with words like I’m some sort of professor! (Beleive it or not, I was going to use the words I used while talking with hubby but because I took a break for 5 mins, I’ve no recollection of what the word was, that I used)…..Extremely frustrating!

I think what frustrates me the most is when I get interrupted for whatever reason, and my train of thought is completely destroyed. I really do have to sit and seriously think as to what I was previously thinking of and try and get my thinking process back on track. (That’s why it seems to take me forever to get a blog finished), I live in a madhouse with two kids (albeit practically grown-up) a husband who thinks he’s a child and a 2-year old Beagle dog. When on earth do I get time to myself to just write?

What Are The Causes of Brain Fog?

Websites that talk of brain fog mention the following as causes for brain fog:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Hormonal changes
  • Diet
  • Medications
  • Medical conditions

The full description can be found on Healthline.com

I know for me personally, lack of sleep is my worst nightmare (pardon the pun). If I haven’t got enough sleep, my brain fog is at an all-time high and this doubled with me being grumpy due to lack of sleep, is not a good combination. My family have come to realise the best thing to do is give me a wide berth.

There are days I wake up more tired than I was before going to bed. My head feels like it’s filled with cotton wool and trying to take in conversations or simple instructions can seem like I’m trying to learn quantum physics. I get so frustrated and even angry at myself on these days as I used to be so good at both of these and more.

Having a physical disability, words became my friend so to speak. Always a smart, funny answer to most things. I felt I was pretty good at tackling most things (written form). The flip side from this though is since my heart attack, my tolerance level for BS has become practically 0…..So, when I need to write important letters for whatever reason, I seem to be able to get straight to the point, no waffling as I used to do. Strange!

Brain Fog:  A Heart Attack Side Effect - No smoking sign

Stress and being a smoker is what caused the onset of my heart attack. I was fighting two companies at the time, one (my housing association re my through floor lift), the other, an insurance claim due to a relatives caravan catching fire. Not a great time!

Stress is a nasty entity and is very much underrated as the cause of a lot of medical issues. The trouble is, how do you combat stress? Unless you lock yourself away from the world, it is near impossible but that is for another blog (maybe).

How Is Brain Fog Diagnosed?

See your doctor if you have persistent lack of clarity that worsens or doesn’t improve. A single test can’t diagnose brain fog. Brain fog may signal an underlying issue, so your doctor will conduct a physical examination and ask about your:

  • Mental health
  • Diet
  • Level of physical activity
  • Current medications or supplements

You should let your doctor know about other symptoms you might have. For example, someone with hypothyroidism may have brain fog along with hair loss, dry skin, weight gain, or brittle nails.

Blood work can help your doctor identify the cause of brain fog. A blood test can detect the following:

  • Abnormal glucose levels
  • Poor liver, kidney, and thyroid function
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Infections
  • Inflammatory diseases

Based on the results, your doctor will determine whether to investigate further. Other diagnostic tools may include imaging tests to look inside the body, such as X-rays, MRI, or CT scans. The doctor may also conduct allergy testing or a sleep study to check for a sleep disorder.

Keeping a food journal can help you determine if your diet contributes to brain fog.

While in hospital recovering from my HA I was told I could now suffer from brain fog (as this is a side effect) and it may be permanent or it may not……That was it! No follow up or proper diagnosis.

I have been to my GP regarding my symptoms but I’m just made feel that I’m blowing it all out of proportion or it’s just all in my head. So I have given up now.

How To Treat It

Brain fog treatment depends on the cause.

For example, if you’re anaemic, iron supplements may increase your production of red blood cells and reduce your brain fog. If you’re diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, your doctor may recommend a corticosteroid or other medication to reduce inflammation or suppress the immune system.

Sometimes, relieving brain fog is a matter of correcting a nutritional deficiency, switching medications, or improving the quality of your sleep.

Home remedies to improve brain fog include:

  • Sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night
  • Managing stress by knowing your limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine
  • Exercising
  • Strengthening your brainpower (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles)
  • Finding enjoyable activities
  • Increasing your intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats

Hmmm, not sure I agree with a lot of these.

Sleeping 8 to 9 hours per night – I do, do this and still feel as tired as I did going to bed, some days more so.

Brain Fog:  A Heart Attack Side Effect - Head showing brain illustration with listed effects of brain fog

Managing stress by knowing your limitations and avoiding excessive alcohol and caffeine – Seriously, how can one do this, life is full of stresses, especially someone with a disability. This gives a whole new level of stresses!

Exercising – Hmm, as a wheelchair user with weak arms, hands and legs, not an easy task by any means. Hubby got the Oculus Quest VR headset recently, I played Beat Saber for 3 songs and I couldn’t use my arms for 2 days after. Seriously, my arms felt lead weights and I couldn’t raise my arms to drink or eat. I have the same issue if I type for too long, my arms become tired and weak!

Strengthening your brainpower (try volunteering or solving brain puzzles) – I build websites, I blog, I volunteer, I play scrabble, chess and I’m learning how to do 3D modelling. I think I’m taxing my brain quite enough thanks. Does it help? I really don’t know, I would need to cease doing all of these for a few months to know for certain. Sorry, not prepared to do that.

Finding enjoyable activities – Think I just covered that 🙂

Increasing your intake of protein, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats – Trying to improve since my HA.

Source of information: Healthline.com

Conclusion

Like most illness, I have good days and I have bad days. The good days are still bad days as I am never free of my brain fog. I suffer from it on a daily basis. Just the severity is different from day-to-day. My real bad days, I don’t speak to a sole as I am terrified I will make a big mistake, or sign up to something I shouldn’t have, or generally make bad decisions. If I do need to make a decision about something, I run it all past my hubby first. This terrifies me as I was always someone with good common-sense and a sensible head on my shoulders. (I feel like I can’t trust my own judgement).

If I get a phone call on a bad day, well actually, any day, I put it on loudspeaker so hubby can hear it too, this way, if I forget something important, hopefully, he can help me. I’m often making notes on a phone call to help with this.

After my HA, I felt very badly let down by the medical profession as a whole. My GP always seemed to make me feel I was burdening them with trivial stuff and why was I wasting their time. I suffered (and probably still do) with depression and my anxiety has worsened to no end. My GP just handed me some leaflets and basically told to get on with it.

The other problem is that this is a hidden disability and believe me, disability it is! (No-one knows you have brain fog unless you tell them). It is difficult when out and about and you’re trying to remember what you went into a shop for, or you can’t remember where you put your bank card or loyalty card when at the till. It can be rather embarrassing to say the least.

My best mate suffers from brain fog too. We both end up giggling over the words we fail to remember or stop mid-sentence cos we can’t remember what we were going to say. It’s nice I can feel comfortable with someone who fully understands my daily struggles.

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Travel Agents: How Helpful Are They For Disabled Customers?

In this day and age, I really don’t know why I am still surprised to encounter such situations like this one. I wonder if it’s because I believe with all the technology and free information that is around, I expect companies etc. to have NO excuse whatsoever NOT to be disability informed and compliant!!!

My latest experience with travel agents Tui, I can’t help but feel the industry is trying to make booking a holiday/trip as difficult and stressful as possible, in the hope we won’t book a holiday abroad?? Why on earth can this country NOT be disabled-friendly?? Other countries manage it with seemingly no problem at all.

I’m off to Vegas later this year to go to a concert, so obviously, I needed to book a hotel and flight.  So, we (hubby & I) went to Tui to get some info and prices.  I really wished I hadn’t bothered and wasted my time!!  We were seen by this young man who obviously didn’t have a clue as to what he was doing and presumably had never helped a disabled person book a holiday!

I explained I was a full-time wheelchair user, and all the necessary info about dates, where we would like to stay etc.  I also told him that I had some questions I would like/need answers before making a booking.  Not a problem he said looking very worried!

He brought up some deals for us to look at.  There was one we liked the look of, so asked before we booked, could we now have some of our questions answered.  There were 11 in total and consisted of the following:

  1. Airport Parking – I wanted to know how close is the disabled parking to the terminal, as hubby can’t walk too far.
  2. Airport assistance – What does this include
  3. Can I keep my wheelchair up to the plane door? – I don’t like the idea of being another wheelchair not suitable for several hours.
  4. How to arrange for my chair to be brought to me once we arrive at Vegas
  5. How much hand luggage can I take – Eg: Lose parts of the chair, footrest etc
  6. Wheelchair insurance – Would holiday insurance include cover for my wheelchair
  7. Wheelchair hire in Vegas – So if I decided not to take my chair, can I hire one in Vegas and what type is on offer.
  8. Will the plane have a chair to go to the toilet
  9. Can I find measurements of the toilet or see one before flying
  10. Are Visas required, if so how/where to apply?
  11. Can I take wheelchair tools as hand luggage?
Travel Agents:  How Helpful Are They For Disabled Customers? - Tui logo

One or two of them I knew probably wouldn’t get answered by a travel agent but most of them should be……Yeah right!!  When I showed him my list, the blood seemed to just drain from his face.  He explained that he needed to contact their accessibility department to get the information I requested.  No problem I said.  He was on the phone no more than a few minutes when he told us that they couldn’t help and he needed to contact somewhere else.  Ok, I said.  Once again he failed in getting the information, again explaining the department couldn’t help.  He then went on about how the flight was being operated by a third party and how we would have to get in touch with them ourselves.  He was going on about how two airlines are offering seats on the same flight, so he or the other departments were unable to get the information we wanted.

At this point, we had been in the travel gents for approx 40 minutes.  I’d had enough, I knew we weren’t going to get the info we needed, so we went for a coffee.  After chatting it over, we decided to go back and see if there was anybody else we could speak to.  As soon as we entered through the door, the same young man jumped up and beckoned us over.  Oh boy, back to square one.

I told him we weren’t happy.  I explained I couldn’t believe that it was this difficult to source the info we needed.  I wasn’t prepared to book anything until I was confident in how I board the plane, how my wheelchair would be looked after etc.  Why is this sort of info not readily available to everyone/anyone needing it?  He couldn’t or wouldn’t answer.

We asked if anyone else could help us, he then went to his manager, he went over and talked with her.  Hubby got up and went over to join the conversation, as no attempt was made to involve me, I also went over.  Again she explained about third party airlines etc oh and now because it was the weekend, nowhere was open?  (But didn’t the guy speak to two different departments today?)  But everywhere is closed!!  Starting to sound like a fob off to me!!

Anyway, she asked if we could leave things with her and she will try to get the info and get back to us around Wednesday of the next week.  No problem I said and left sharply.  I had no intentions of dealing any further with Tui over this booking or non-booking!!

Travel Agents:  How Helpful Are They For Disabled Customers? - British Airways Logo

The following day (Sunday) I looked online and found a hotel and flight deal directly with British Airways and it was almost £200 cheaper than what Tui was asking…….Result.  So I contacted BA directly and guess what?  In the amount of time I had spent with Tui, I had my booking to Vegas, my questions answered AND confirmation of my accessible room in the hotel.  Airport assistance for both me and hubby also booked and confirmed!  Why had I not thought of booking directly beforehand??  So at least now I’m confident in what I have, assistance wise and happy I can take my own wheelchair.  There is, however, one last bit of info I am still to have answered.  Will I be able to use the toilet while on the plane?  Kinda buggered if I can’t haha, it’s an 11-hour flight.

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Las Vegas: My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User

Well, where do I start on this amazing city?  My husband and I went to Las Vegas for one main purpose, to see Billy Idol in concert.  I couldn’t see him here in the UK last year as hubby broke his leg and as he is my carer/driver, I was unable to go.  So when I heard he was doing a residency in LV, I just had to go.

Las Vegas:  My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User - The famous Las Vegas welcome sign

We booked our trip for October 2019 directly with British Airways and dealt with a very nice man who answered all my question and sorted everything out for us from the hotel, flights/seats and disability assistance.  I was extra nervous as I hadn’t flown in over 20 years and this was my first time flying as a full-time wheelchair user, so had many worries due to all the horror stories I had been reading about disabled people being left on the plane, wheelchairs broke or going missing.  I really wasn’t doing myself any favours.

Anyhow, we booked fairly early on in the year so we had roughly 10 months to wait.  Everything seemed to run very smoothly and we were updated regularly from BA via email regarding our booking.  We were flying from Gatwick to McCarran airport.

On the morning of our long weekend in Vegas, we arrived at Gatwick, we parked in the long stay car park we had booked at a reasonable price, then got the bus to the South Terminal, which was wheelchair accessible.  We did try to check-in on the BA app the night before but this wasn’t working too well, (either that or I was doing it wrong).  So we went to check-in.  This went smoothly and we told the lady we had assistance booked and she directed us where to go.  We decided to go grab a bite to eat before going to assistance as we had turned up extremely early thinking traffic might be bad.  We had to be there 3 hours before departure time (long haul flight)…..We turned up 4 hours before lol.

At the assistance desk we were given a beeper and was told when it goes off, come back to the desk and we would be taken to board the plane.  So the only sensible thing left to do now was go shopping   We had approx 2 hours or so to go before departure.  When our beeper went off, we headed back to assistance where we were taken to the plane.  Jeff (hubby) required assistance also as he is unable to walk very far, so he jumped in one of their electric buggies where I followed behind, well I say behind, I was left for dust really.  Thank god I knew what gate I was aiming for, which I might add was miles away!!  At the plane door, I transferred into an aisle chair, (by god this is a tiny piece of equipment, my backside only just fitted on the seat!!)  I was extremely embarrassed to see that most of the passengers had already boarded the plane, meaning I had to pass them all as I was pulled along with my hips hopping of each seat as I passed.  Our seats were at the very back of the plane as this was the only place that had 2 seats instead of 3 and I felt a row of 2 seats would be better for transferring in/out of the aisle chair if/when I needed the loo and the fact the toilets were pretty much behind these seats.  No passengers to pass mid-flight!

We eventually take off after a delay of over an hour (A flight from Scotland was delayed that had passengers that were booked on our flight).  Well, the flight was probably the coldest I have been in a very long time.  The aircon must have been on full blast!  I wrapped up in a blanket and still couldn’t get warm.

TIP 1 – Take something warm to wear on the flight or you WILL freeze!!

The entertainment system on this plane was pretty naff to say the least.  The screen was very small (compared to the one coming home), the section where you can track your flight journey was not working and when trying to watch a film, you could see the grid lines embedded in the screen.  Even the Wi-fi was broken, so I tried to get some sleep as I knew when we landed, we would have been up nearly 24 hours due to time difference but this was impossible due to being so damn cold.

Las Vegas:  My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User - Airplane Toilet
Las Vegas:  My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User -  Plane toilet with side entrance

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I had spent the day watching my liquid intake as I didn’t know how I was going to cope with the toilet onboard.  Jeff had to go long before I did and he came back saying he didn’t think I was going to cope….Great, just what I wanted to hear!!  He explained the door to the toilet faced the toilet itself, Left Image – this meant I would not be able to transfer onto the toilet from the aisle chair.  I sat pondering my options and trying to work out how I was going to get onto the toilet in such a small space.  Jeff then disappeared and came back and told me there was another toilet on the other side of the plane (Jeff used the one directly behind us) and this looked more promising as the door was at the side of the toilet, Right image.  Indeed this was the answer I needed, it even had a handrail for me to hold onto whilst I transferred.  Please note:  These are not the toilets aboard our plane, just a representation to show you the difference.

Tip 2 – Do check to see if there are other toilets laid out differently as this might make the difference in whether or not you can actually go.

I packed my cushion with my wheelchair in the hold luggage.  What a mistake this was.  I was in excruciating pain the whole way as the plane seats are quite hard and my coccyx got very sore.  I didn’t make the same mistake coming home!

Tip 3 – Make sure if you have a cushion on your chair, you take it on board with you to use.

View from airplane of mountains covered with snow

If you can, (I know airlines normally prefer us disabled to have an aisle seat) get a window seat, the views over Iceland/Greenland are out of this world!!

Arriving at McCarran airport, I had the dreaded aisle chair fiasco again, thankfully I was last off so no passengers gawping at me.  My wheelchair was at the plane door waiting for me, yippee, what a relief!  Once transferred, we were taken to customs, once through there we were on our own.  We went outside to look for a taxi to take us to our hotel the Excalibur.  I was so cold from the plane, I was delighted to see the sun shining brightly I just had to sit in it for 5 minutes to warm my bones up.  The weather at this time of year is wonderful and hot!  (Well Caz, you are in the middle of the Nevada desert).

We were advised to go to one of the taxi booth’s outside. We waited in line at one of them for what felt like half an hour, so we decided to move along to another booth. The prices advertised (correct at Oct 2019)  ranged from $9.50 to $11 and on one of the booths, there was a $50 price in brackets advertised as airport tax? I have no idea as to what this meant, was this another $50 on top of the price of the trip itself? Feeling a little nervous, we went around the corner only to find we could get a bus (the SDX bus) that went from the airport to quite a few of the hotels along the strip. So we decided to jump on one of these to take us to our hotel.  This only cost us $2 each way.

I have to explain, we spent the whole weekend jumping on and off buses up and down the strip as all buses and I mean all, were wheelchair accessible. I can’t speak for all of America but in Vegas at least, all bus drivers will get out of their cab and put the ramp down for you, you then board the bus and if there are any passengers sitting in the fold-up priority seats and this space is needed by a wheelchair user, the passengers are told to move, the seats are then folded up, you then park your chair in that space where the driver then clamps your chair to the bus. In all honesty, I was amazed at how efficient the bus service actually was.  I’m terrified of using public transport (buses) here in London.  In Vegas, I would use them all by myself anytime!!

Las Vegas:  My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User -Gold & blue double decker bus that runs up & down the Vegas strip

When you’re travelling up and down the strip, there is another bus route called the Deuce, this is a gold & blue double-decker bus that runs very frequently up and down the strip daily. The SDX bus I previously mentioned goes up and down the strip but does deviate at certain points along the strip, therefore you may have to get off the SDX bus and jump on the deuce bus or vice versa, depending on where you start your journey and where you wish to go.

Full info can be found here:  https://www.visitlasvegas.com/experience/post/getting-around-vegas/  

This tells you what you need to know about the buses that go up & down the strip.  It is also much cheaper than getting taxi’s everywhere as they use meter’s to charge for your journey, so if you’re stuck in traffic, which is pretty much every journey, then your fare is going to be expensive.

Tip 4 – If you can, use the Deuce or SDX buses when travelling up and down the strip.  Daily bus passes are fairly cheap.

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Las Vegas:  My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User -Excalibur hotel from a distance showing several towers of the medieval theme

We arrive at our hotel the Excalibur, this is a themed hotel (as all of the hotels along the strip are).  The Excalibur has a medieval theme with a castle look to it.  Inside you are greeted with stone walls and knights scattered around upon ledges on the walls. 

Knights armour statue in the Excalibur hotel

You can go into any of the hotels along the strip and use their amenities, shops, casino and restaurants but, I will say this about all hotels that we went in to look around.  They are all freezing…..Aircon on full blast all the time.  I can only assume this is because so many people have complained about the hotels/casinos being very smokey as there is not, a no smoking ban in Vegas. 

I have to say, although freezing, it certainly keeps the smoke at bay.  There was no smell of smoke at all!!  One or two of the hotels did smell musty and damp but not of smoke.

Being a wheelchair user, I booked an accessible room.  It was basic but had all the amenities you could want, well most, we had no tea/coffee facilities in our room.  I believe all hotels in America offer room only type of rooms.

Our accessible room came with the following:

  • Big double bed – I woke up in the middle of the night and thought Jeff had got up to go to the toilet, I didn’t realise he was on the other side of the bed lol
  • Wet room bathroom with real in shower-including a shower chair
  • Hairdryer
  • Iron/ironing board
  • Two armchairs
  • Table with mirror above
  • Flat-screen TV-opposite the bed
  • Wardrobe
  • Plenty of drawer/cupboard space
  • safe inside cupboard

There were only two drawbacks to our room,

  1. The sink in the bathroom was far from an appropriate height for a wheelchair user – It was far too high
  2. There was no tea/coffee making facility in the room

Although there were no tea or coffee facilities in the room, on the lobby floor just outside the lifts there was a kiosk selling tea/coffee/hot chocolate etc and pastries if you wanted them.

We landed in Vegas at 3:15 PM and we got to our hotel approximately 6:30 PM and due to being up over 24 hours at this point, we decided to grab a bite to eat and then just crash in bed. There was a food court on level 1, this had approximately seven or eight different places to eat.

Tip 5: A lot of the food in Vegas, as I am sure you can imagine, is very greasy. There are many places where you can get food that is not greasy.  So, it is worth shopping around.

We awoke Saturday morning at 2:00 am due to the time difference and to my horror, found my electric wheelchair had not been charging. Meaning, it was plugged in correctly to both my wheelchair and electrical outlet but still no charge! Jeff checked my wheelchair, charger and plugs and found nothing wrong with any of the connections. It turns out, (something we had not even thought about), was the voltage used in the USA. Here, in the UK, we use 240v but in the USA they use 110v, therefore, meaning their voltage was not powerful enough to charge my chair.

To cut a very long story short, we spent the best part of Saturday trying to fix my charging issue.  From having to go to a local electrical store to purchase a step-up/down transformer, finding out the machine we bought was faulty and the last one in stock.  (Ever feel the forces are just working against you?).   (I have since spoken to a friend who also had the same issue in a country she had visited and confirmed she used one of these step-up/down transformers and it charged her chair with no problem).

We had visited reception a couple of times, hoping they might have been able to help us as surely I would not have been the first electric wheelchair user to have suffered this problem! Unfortunately, they didn’t really know what we were going on about. Surprised and shocked we were directed to the bellboy desk and told to speak with the manager Andy. Andy Matteucci (Bell Captain) was a lifesaver as he spent a couple of hours trying to solve my problem including getting one of his engineers to confirm the machine we had bought was actually faulty. After exhausting all possibilities Andy suggested using one of his scooter chargers to see if that would charge my chair. (These are scooters the hotel hire out to anyone needing them).  I was praying this would be a solution, as my chair was now in the red and the sole purpose of our visit (Billy Idol concert) was in a view hours time!

Thankfully, my prayers seemed to be answered as this seemed to fix my problem, the charger was charging my chair. There was only one problem with this solution, I assume because of the electrical outlet voltage, the charger wasn’t powerful enough to charge my chair properly, this meant I had to carry the charger around with me to keep charging my chair at regular intervals. Therefore, we had to hire the scooter that came with the charger.

Tip 6: Please speak to your wheelchair service (if you have an NHS chair) or your wheelchair manufacturer to ask what their advice would be on charging your chair in the USA/abroad.  I spoke with Invacare (my wheelchair manufacturer) their advice was to purchase a 110v charger for my wheelchair at the lovely price of £300. Yeah right, gonna spend that kind of money on a piece of equipment that I may only use once……. not bloody likely!  (I may look deeper into one of those step-up/down transformers).

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Las Vegas:  My First Time Flying As A Full-Time Wheelchair User -Billy Idol sitting on my footrest between my legs while I'm sitting in my wheelchair

As I said before, the sole purpose of our visit to Las Vegas was to see Billy Idol in concert. As you can see from the image above, this was a dream come true! Billy Idol was doing a residency in the Palms Casino resort hotel. From what we saw of the hotel it looked rather plush but the view I had from the wheelchair space at the very back of their theatre, was crap, to say the least. I was in a space that had what I would describe as a cinema seat either side of me (presumably, carer/PA seats).

The theatre/auditorium was tiered and as I was sat directly behind the last row of seats, the minute people got up to dance, which was as soon as the music started, I may as well have stuck on an eye mask as I would have had a better view! The irony of this, was, to the right of me there was a balcony section for all the other wheelchair users who had no obstruction to their view whatsoever as it was a balcony! So, I have a word with the usher asking if I could sit off to the left by the pillar where the flight of steps lead down into the auditorium. He said no! I went on to explain how my view was non-existent and I would then have to leave as it would not be worth staying. He told me to hang on a moment, he went away, came back and told me if I sat against the wall I could sit by the pillar. Not the best of solutions but better than what I had previously.

Tip 7:  When booking concert tickets or show tickets especially when going abroad to see these shows, try your best to research or contact the venue itself to find out exactly where you are seated and if your view will be obstructed in any way. If like me you have to book a wheelchair space at the venue, you are limited to where you can be seated so definitely worth finding this information out before booking!

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Jeff in between 2 showirls with blue feather headdresses

So, after sadly having our first day taken from us due to my wheelchair issues, we had an awful lot to cram into one day. Wow, we were gonna be busy!  We were told you could not visit Vegas and not go to Fremont Street as this was an experience not to be missed. So we jumped up on a bus (Deuce) and took this to Fremont Street. Here, is where the Vegas strip originally started. It is basically one long street filled with shops, casinos and restaurants, with a roof cover that lights up. At one end of the street, you can jump on a zip wire and travel the length of the street.  Did you know, the Golden Nugget casino that is here, is where the film Sister Act was filmed?  Neither did I!

On the ground, you may very well see Elvis and some showgirls, be careful though, we had passed a couple of showgirls two or three times and each time they asked for us to have a picture taken with them which we refused each time. Towards the end of the day, Jeff decided to bite the bullet and have his picture taken with them. It is customary to tip these picture opportunity people for a better phrase. So before having his picture taken Jeff did ask “how much”? The answer was “whatever you felt like giving”. After the picture was taken both myself and Jeff handed the girls $10 each. One of the girls took this money and the other one asked: “have you anything nice for me”? Jeff explained that the $20 was for both of them, to which they responded by informing us that they normally get $20 each! Sorry, $40 dollars for a photo that you take with your own camera?  (I’m in the wrong business).

Freemont Street in Vegas with overhead cover all lit up with flame images

Be warned though, there are many sights you may wish to forget. For example, we saw what can only be described as an elderly lady wearing a G string, nipple doilies, masquerade lace mask and holding a whip in one hand where she found it very amusing to slap men’s backsides with this as they passed by.

Tip 8: Make sure, you have plenty of spending money if you intend to have your picture taken regularly with these photo opportunity people because in my opinion you will be fleeced!!

After our eventful day, my wheelchair was drained, so I had to use the scooter Jeff had hired that evening.  We took a ride up and down the strip seeing it all lit up and grabbing a few photos.  The strip at night is definitely worth seeing!!

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Monday – Time to go home 🙁   We were very sad as we felt we just didn’t have the time we needed to see and do everything we wanted.  (Oh well, just means we will have to go back again)   

Checking out of the hotel was very easy, there were machines by reception that you could use rather than queue up, all you had to do really was input your name and email address and confirm you were checking out.

So, back to the airport, we go!  We jumped on another bus (SDX) to take us back to the airport.  We got a little confused as to which side of the road we needed to be on as of course, the traffic is going the opposite direction to here in the UK.  We asked someone and was directed to a bus stop, only to find we were on the wrong side of the road and on the wrong road lol.  We should have been literally on the side, just around the corner.

Checking in was a little slow as the man dealing with us didn’t have a clue how to check in a wheelchair user!  Back and forth he went, asking me the same questions repeatedly.  One thing I didn’t understand, when booking, I had to input all the necessary info regarding my wheelchair, weight, dimensions, battery type etc yet, here I was giving all this info all over again at all the airports I passed through.

Tip 9:  Have a handy info sheet with all this info with you whenever going through the airport.  You will be asked repeatedly for it!!

We went to the assistance desk where we told this time we had priority boarding, something not told to us flying out!  We were told to go to the boarding desk approx an hour before take-off.  The time came for pre-boarding, we were already at the seating area by the desk waiting.  I was taken to the plane door where I had to transfer into an aisle seat, then I was told to wait.  The man dealing with me had to go and help another passenger?  So I was left in this aisle chair sat by the plane door, waiting, waiting and waiting.  Passengers had now started to board the plane, all passing me by a looking!  Even the cabin crew started to look worried!  Eventually, the man returned, I was now finally boarding the plane and yes, you guessed it, the aisle chair fiasco once again!!  Although that was bad enough, the biggest issue we had with our return flight was the disability assistance at Gatwick……Basically it didn’t arrive!! When we arrived back at Gatwick, I was told by a member of the cabin crew, that I wasn’t down as a “carry on”.  I explained that BA themselves booked this and nearer our flight date, confirmed all was well.  After investigation, it turned out that another lady (who had NO assistance booked) got my assistance??  This now meant my electric wheelchair had NOT been brought to the plane door!  How does this kind of mistake happen??   Getting off the plane at Gatwick, the man taking me down the aisles of the plane had no idea what he was doing.  He kept bashing my hips into the seats and at one point I had to reach out and physically stop him as he nearly crashed my legs into a doorway!!  Again, causing me lots of pain!! Because of this major cock-up, I was made to transfer from the plane seat onto the aisle chair then into another chair onboard the jetty bus that was at the plane door, I then had to be taken to luggage claim where I was again made to transfer into another wheelchair so I could be taken off the bus into the terminal entrance.  Eventually, my electric wheelchair was found and yet again, transfer into it.  This caused me a great deal of physical pain in my coccyx, arms and back.  I am still in pain as I write this!  Then, once I was in my own chair, we were left alone!  All assistance was just gone.  We had no idea where or what to do next!  My husband who also had assistance booked was now left to walk everywhere and struggle to search for and lift our luggage!!  His assistance was non-existent!!  So he also is in great pain!! Unfortunately, this kind of mistake is out of our control, all we can do is book assistance and get confirmation nearer the time.  Beyond this, our assistance is literally in the hands of the gods!!  I count myself lucky though, it could have been a lot worse in the respect my wheelchair could have been damaged, thankful for small mercies!!!

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Conclusion

We had a fantastic time and will go again.  Yes, we had our ups and downs but well worth it.  We didn’t really have the time to spend in the casinos due to the issues we had with my chair.  Next time I may have a flutter 

 It is a noisy place with machines pinging and beeping in the casinos, the general hustle and bustle of the strip and all the traffic.  The lights are amazing but I can see how they could be very overwhelming for some. The weather is great if you love the sun, we found it not too hot and not too cold (unless in a hotel). 

My Tips

TIP 1 – Take something warm to wear on the flight or you WILL freeze!!

Tip 2 – Do check to see if there are other toilets laid out differently as this might make the difference in whether or not you can actually go.

Tip 3 – Make sure if you have a cushion on your chair, you take it on board with you to use.

Tip 4 – If you can, use the Deuce or SDX buses when travelling up and down the strip.  Daily bus passes are fairly cheap.

Tip 5: A lot of the food in Vegas, as I am sure you can imagine, is very greasy. There are many places where you can get food that is not greasy.  So, it is worth shopping around.

Tip 6: Please speak to your wheelchair service (if you have an NHS chair) or your wheelchair manufacturer to ask what their advice would be on charging your chair in the USA/abroad.  I spoke with Invacare (my wheelchair manufacturer) their advice was to purchase a 110v charger for my wheelchair at the lovely price of £300. Yeah right, gonna spend that kind of money on a piece of equipment that I may only use once……. not bloody likely!  (I may look deeper into one of those step up/down transformers).

Tip 7:  When booking concert tickets or show tickets especially when going abroad to see these shows, try your best to research or contact the venue itself to find out exactly where you are seated and if your view will be obstructed in any way. If like me you have to book a wheelchair space at the venue, you are limited to where you can be seated so definitely worth finding this information out before booking!

Tip 8:  Make sure, you have plenty of spending money if you intend to have your picture taken regularly with these photo opportunity people because in my opinion you will be fleeced!!

If you decide to go, happy holidays, I’m sure you’ll have a fabulous time as we did!

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Cruising As A Wheelchair User: Is It The Best Holiday?

I have been very lucky and managed to go a few holidays, Ireland, France, Las Vegas, Tunisia, caravanning and of course cruises. So far, cruising has been the most hassle-free to book and to get to and of course to holiday with. Cruising is not for everyone but if you can, I recommend you take at least one cruise in your life.

My apologies from the offset, this may end up being a lengthy review of cruising with a disability.  In all fairness, would you want it any other way? Most holiday reviews in my opinion, or holiday tips, are always about flying, airports, assistance etc.?  Is this the only type of transport one can go on holiday with?  What about, riverboats, caravanning, camping and of course cruising??  Do these no longer exist?  Well, I’m going to show you they do!!

I have been very lucky to have been able to do two previous cruises and thoroughly enjoyed both.  In this review though, I am going to talk about our next cruise, which will have already happened by the time I publish this.  I hope this review will help anyone thinking of taking a cruise holiday.

It was April 2017 when I actually booked our holiday.  Yes I know that’s very early but for those of you who have booked holidays yourself, you will know how disabled rooms/facilities get booked up very quickly indeed.  As cruising is becoming ever more popular, I put nothing to chance as previous experience has shown me that the accessible cabins go like hotcakes.

We decided to go with Royal Caribbean as they had been recommended to me by a friend who is also a wheelchair user.  She said she had a great time and found them very good for wheelchair users.  So we looked online, found a cruise we liked and booked up.  We booked a 2-week Mediterranean cruise on the Navigator of the Seas, (picture above), inside cabin with virtual balcony and my time dining.

I have supplied a video of our accessible room at the bottom of this review, for you to see for yourself.

Royal Caribbean Website

Unfortunately, their website designer should be sacked immediately.  RC website is one of the most confusing websites I’ve ever had the misfortune of browsing.  It is practically impossible to find the information disabled passengers would/may require and if you do manage it, don’t expect to find it again.  Bits of information on their site seems to appear, disappear and reappear again……Very confusing indeed!!

To initially book your cruise, everything seemed to go according to plan but once we booked and wanted to find more information at our leisure, this is where things became a bit twilight zone!!  Forget finding out how accessible the ports are, there’s no information regarding that whatsoever.  I have supplied links at the end of this review, taking you to different sites that help with this type of information.

In my experience, their site seems to contradict itself in many places.  Especially where excursions are concerned, see the Accessible Excursions section.

Accessible Excursions

Why book a cruise?

So the first thing you should obviously do, is decide if cruising is for you, after all, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea.

  • If your cruise starts from a port in your country, then boarding the ship should be pretty simple and easy.
  • You arrive at the port, your car is parked for you (Not all car parks offer this).
  • Your luggage is taken away and boarded for you and delivered to your cabin.
  • You’re on a floating hotel and the world comes to you.
  • You get to see more than one destination (depending on length of cruise)
  • Many different bars/clubs to keep you entertained, all in one place
  • Wheelchair accessible cabins

To name a few…

Once you’ve decided a cruise is the way forward, you then have the wonderful experience of choosing where to cruise.  Mediterranean cruise?  Caribbean cruise?  Or even a Fiords cruise?  So many to chose from, how do you decide?  Well, there are a couple of factors to bear in mind.

  • Do you want to have to fly to get out to the ship you are cruising on and get another flight to come home?  Do you want to sail from Southampton (Or a port in your country) and return to Southampton (or port in your country)?
  • What countries would you like to visit?
  • Do you want to cruise on a large ship (up to 3000 Passengers) or would you prefer a smaller ship?
  • How long do you want to cruise for?  Length of cruise can determine what destinations you can visit.
Cruising As A Wheelchair User:  Is It The Best Holiday?  -  Front of cruise ship with blue interior lights

I think the biggest factor to keep in mind is if you want a fly-cruise holiday, or not.  Let me explain:  Some cruises, regardless of company, will sail from Southampton docks and at the end of the cruise, return back to Southampton.  On a fly-cruise holiday, you must first fly out to where your ship is docked.  Let’s say we’re doing a Caribbean cruise holiday.  This would entail you flying out to let’s say Jamaica, you then get on your ship, do your Caribbean cruise and then sail back to Jamaica or neighbouring country to then fly home again.  (Just remember, not all cruises will require you to fly home from the same place you flew out to.  Sometimes you will fly home from the last port of call your cruise ship makes).  So you need to decide if you want to fly and cruise, or just cruise.  Many cruise operators like P&O and Royal Caribbean (links at bottom of page) will offer cruises that sail from and back to Southampton, so no flying is needed.

Booking your Cruise

Once you’ve decided you want to cruise and you know where you want to go, the next question you need to ask yourself is do you go to the travel agents, or do you book directly with the cruise company? This really boils down to personal choice. Our previous cruises, we booked via a travel agent, this time we booked directly with the cruise company. The table below shows the pros and cons for both routes, please bear in mind everything I’ve mentioned is from my own experiences, so I can’t cover every aspect, plus this is only my opinion.  It is meant to be a helpful guide, not a rule book.

As I mentioned before, we booked directly with Royal Caribbean cruises via the telephone rather than online via their website, as I had a few questions before going ahead.  I found them to be very friendly and willing to do their best to answer my questions.  So we went ahead and paid our deposit.  One thing to remember….RC did not offer any child prices.  We had to pay full price for our daughter, (aged 14 at the time of travelling).

When making your initial booking, there are a couple of bits of information you will be given

  • your cabin number – now you can take a look on your cruise companies website and see where you’re cabin is situated on the ship
  • dining option you have chosen – most cruise companies will require you to book your dining option at the time of booking your cruise.  Royal Caribbean offers traditional dining and my time dining (this was our choice) – Explanation is given below

Traditional Dining

Cruising As A Wheelchair User:  Is It The Best Holiday? - Main dining hall - Big glass chandelier above table and chairs with white table cloths

As the name implies, traditional dining is the classic means of experiencing dinner on your Royal Caribbean cruise.  There are two seatings, first and second seating.  First seating is usually around 6:00 pm and the second seating is usually around 8:00 pm. Exact times will vary.

When you book your cruise, you can choose which seating you like. Typically families choose first seating because it’s harder to keep kids up later for the second seating.  You will still see kids in second seating, but there tend to be more families in the first seating.  You will be assigned a table in the main dining room that can be as small as two people or as large as 16 or even larger.  Royal Caribbean can also place you at a table with other guests onboard your ship.  Who you sit with (if anyone else) depends on a few factors but it’s usually the norm to be seated with others.    You can change your seating if you prefer not to sit with others or are unhappy with whom you are seated.  Speak to the head waiter to arrange a change, although changes are subject to availability.  

Source:  Royal Caribbean website

My Time Dining

My Time Dining is a lot like traditional dining with one big exception: you do not have a set time that is the same every night of your cruise.  You will still dine in the main dining room, but you can choose between making reservations or showing up and waiting for a table.

My Time Dining advertises its benefit as being you do not have a set time to eat each night.  So if one night you feel like dinner at 6 pm but another night you want to stay at the pool later, you can come to eat at 8:30 pm.

Like the main dining room, you may be seated with other people at your table.  Where you sit is subject to availability.  Unlike the main dining room, you may not have the same wait staff each night.  You can request certain waiters but you may have to wait to be seated at a table they serve.

My time dining experience once seated is nearly identical to traditional dining.  You order off of the same menu as traditional dining and can order as much food as you like from that menu.  

Source:  Royal Caribbean website

Once you have booked your holiday and paid the deposit, you then receive a few emails with all your holiday details, deposit/payment confirmation and a special needs form that you MUST fill in.  If my memory serves me right, I did mine via email.  Once you receive these, you will have the ability to sign in to your holiday account on RC website where you can:

  • Pay any remaining balance.
  • Print your Set Sail tickets – Time dependant – normally 90 days before your sail date.
  • Book excursions
  • Buy drinks packages
  • Purchase WIFI packages
  • Special event packages

You should receive emails leading up to your holiday informing you of any procedures or forms you may need to fill in along the way, so don’t worry.

Now we get all excited as our holiday is now booked….Very exciting indeed.

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Accessible Excursions

RC’s website leaves a lot to be desired and trying to find the information you want can be like trying to get blood out of a stone!  We’re looking for accessible excursions via our holiday account.  To say this was difficult would be an understatement I’m sorry to say.  Hubby was getting completely different info to what I was getting when we each logged into our account, to find the excursions.  Also, most of what RC advertise as “accessible” excursions are very miss-leading to say the least.  For example, we looked at one supposed “accessible” excursion but when you then read the description, it says you must be able to navigate the steps of the coach??  So how is this accessible for full-time wheelchair users or people unable to climb steps???  Very confusing!!  Then, when we view our online cruise planner, at the available excursions, we’re told there are 14 available but we can only see a handful of them.  RC doesn’t make it clear as to what excursions are for full-time wheelchair users like myself.

I was then forced to phone RC, beware…..they charge 7p a minute and whatever connection charge your provider charges!!  I explained my issue and was told he would put me through to the excursion department, where I could be helped better.  Only to find I’d been put through to the private excursion line??  He then told me I needed to speak to RC??  Oh my god, pulling my hair out much?  He gave me an email address so I could contact the department needed as they don’t do phone calls.  (If anyone needs this email address, drop me a line and I’ll give you the address).  So, for now, I’m taking a break and will email them tomorrow.

I emailed them the following day explaining I am a full-time wheelchair user and can they tell me if the following excursions are suitable?  I supplied the names of the excursions we were interested in.  Oh boy, the response I got made me want to punch my monitor!!!!  They gave me NO information regarding the “Accessible Excursions” I asked about but instead another form to fill in about my wheelchair. 

This was their reply:  Read reply here

You will see the number of questions that they ask and what measurements they want about me and my wheelchair, which I might add were already supplied in their “Special Needs” form I had to fill in months ago.  RC mentions the two types of excursion levels.  You are not given this info via their website.  There is no mention whatsoever that excursions come in two levels……Again, very misleading!!

Putting all the trials and tribulations to one side, being unable to take the planned excursions is not the end of your holiday. Most ports of call will have a town close by. For example, when we arrived in Rome we were unable to take either RC’s own excursion or any other means of getting into Rome but you had Civitavecchia’s old town by the bus station you were drop off at via the shuttle bus. So you should still be able to get off the ship and visit a town to do some shopping if you wish.

Warning! Your ship pass is your entry back onto the ship if you get off the ship at any of the ports.  If you lose your ship card, don’t expect to get back on the ship. Your card is not only for purchasing stuff on the ship, it is also your room key and your pass to get on and off the ship.

Your Holiday is Booked, Now What?

One word of warning, we found RC excursions to be astronomically overpriced.  So please, exhaust every option before you decide what to book.  I feel it’s vital to look into what you can visit without having to book an excursion, before booking your holiday.  After all, you don’t want to book a holiday where you can only take in the sights via an excursion.  That would be very disappointing and expensive.  Our last 2 cruises, we were able to see what we wanted to see by ourselves.  At one port, we did have to catch a bus but it was wheelchair accessible and free, as it was supplied by the cruise company to take passengers into the local town.

I wanted to know if RC knew anything about accessibility, like disabled toilets while at the different ports.  RC was unable to answer this question.

So I took it upon myself to do my own research. I have listed below two websites that I have found to be extremely helpful.  These websites seem to have a mountain of information regarding ports, where most cruise ships will dock on their journey.  One even sorts out excursions for you.  As I mentioned, excursions can be very expensive indeed.  For example, we would love to do an excursion that takes us to Pisa, this is costing £169 per person through RC.  So for 4 people, that’s a whopping £676.  When you have already paid over 6 grand for your family holiday, do you really want to pay this on top??  To take their excursion to Rome, they wanted £285 that’s £1,140 for a family of 4.  So for two excursions for a family of 4, you are forking out £1,816, really??  (Prices correct at time of writing this).

Cruise Countdown

Log in page for cruise countdown

Most cruise companies will have their own type of countdown to your holiday.  It will inform you of things like when you are able to print off your set sail tickets, luggage tags and info on drinks packages, excursions and special events bookings like birthday, anniversaries etc.

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Cashless System

Here’s something you may not know. To my knowledge, ALL cruise ships operate a cashless system while on board. We had to tell RC how we would like to settle our onboard account.  Our options were:

  • Credit/debit card –
  • Cash
  • bank transfer

The cashless system works like this, when checking in at the docks, your photo will be taken and attached to your ship account/card, which is then given to you.  Your ship card is then used similar to a credit card while aboard the ship to pay for anything and everything you purchase.  From drinks to the shops onboard.  At the end of your holiday, the bill must be paid.  Hence the options above.  Our preferred method is cash. Purely because we are terrified of getting an astronomical bill at the end of our holiday and not being able to pay it.  You see, it is very easy to get carried away while on holiday and not really be aware of what you are spending.  14 days is a long time to keep tabs on every penny you and your family are spending.  especially when you’ve got kids.

Also, by choosing the option cash, you have the ability to go to reception every couple of days, ask for an up-to-date bill and pay off what you owe at that point.  Remember though, RC is an American company, so your account will be in dollars.  Bear this in mind with the exchange rate.  Again, at the end of the day, it is a personal preference.

Tip: RC don’t inform you of this beforehand but if you pay your account by any means other than cash, you are charged a %5 convenience fee in the casino every time you use your ship card to purchase chips at the tables.

Boarding Your Ship

We took RC’s pier assistance which turned out to be the best decision we made, the check-in terminal was so chaotic I doubt very much we would have navigated the system by ourselves. We had a gentleman assist us to the check-in desk, sort out all our documents and then take us in the lift up to what I would call the boarding ramp/gangplank onto the ship. He took us up the ramped zigzag undercover gangplank, right up to the entrance of the ship itself. We were told this was as far as he could take us. We were now left to our own devices. Somewhat confused and unsure of what we should do next.

Accessible Cabins

All accessible cabins will have wider doors, ramped threshold into the wet room.  Sometimes you’ll be supplied with a safe in your room which, as with RC will be lowered and turning circle space for your wheelchair.

As an example Royal Caribbean advertises their accessible cabins as having;

  • Stateroom door width: 32″-34″ (vessel-dependent)
  • Bathroom door width: 32″-34″ (vessel-dependent)
  • No doorsill to get into the stateroom
  • Ramped bathroom threshold
  • Bathroom grab bars
  • Lowered sink and stateroom vanity
  • Roll-in shower bench
  • Fold-down shower bench
  • Hand-held shower heads
  • Lowered closet rods
  • Refrigerator in stateroom (upon request)
  • Raised toilet seats (most are between 17 to 19 inches high; commode chairs available – please request prior to sailing)
  • Accessible balconies (selected staterooms)
  • Lowered safes for easy access (not including Majesty of the Seas, where safes are located at Guest Relations)

Please note: Accessible suites have roll-in showers, not bathtubs except on Quantum of the Seas.

Source: https://www.royalcaribbean.com/experience/accessible-cruising/accessible-staterooms

I was also able to find information regarding inside cabins on the ship we are sailing on.  I found the following info:

  • Door width – 32 inches wide
  • Wet room door width – 32 inches
  • Toilet height from floor – 18 inches
  • Grab rails when seated – left-hand side

As a right-handed person with very weak upper body strength, it would have been beneficial to have known about the grab rails before booking our holiday, as I would have preferred them to be on my right. Hopefully, now you know this information, this will benefit you.

Note:  Our room only had ONE 240v plug socket.  It had two 120v plug sockets but I believe they are no good for European electrical equipment.  The video below shows more.

Our bed was so hard it felt like we were sleeping on stone, I suffered two nights in pain before I went to Guest services and asked if there was anything they could do, thankfully they were able to supply a mattress topper.  This helped greatly but still wasn’t perfect. So remember, if you find any kind of issues/problems with your room, it is worth having a word with your stateroom attendant, reception/Guest services and asking them if there is anything they can do.

One thing to remember about your cabin, the door is a storm door therefore it will be extremely heavy.  So, anyone like myself with weak upper body strength you may find it very difficult to open the door, hold it open and manoeuvre yourself through the doorway.

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Fish Insurance: Do You Have Insurance For Your Wheelchair?

Insure your mobility equipment with the disabled insurance specialists Fish insurance

Fish Insurance: Do You Have Insurance For Your Wheelchair? – If you insure your wheelchair or mobility aid, you get peace of mind and protection for your chair.  Fish Insurance is a company that can insure your mobility products:

  • Mobility Scooter
  • Manual Wheelchair
  • Electric Wheelchair
  • Prosthetics & Orthotics

And of course all the other stuff like home/holiday insurance etc.

As you may be aware, I am due to fly out to Vegas later in the year and my biggest worry of all things that could go wrong is my electric wheelchair being broken, or worse, lost!!  That would be my trip destroyed.  So insurance is very important.  My insurance package for my NHS Electric Wheelchair with Fish includes a worldwide cover (including baggage handler cover).  This is exactly what I needed to put my mind at rest, I’m sure you can imagine the stress I was feeling!

As a responsible wheelchair user, (well, most of the time :))  I decided it was a good idea to be insured, if nothing else, for third-party.  We all know there are people out there that will do anything to make a buck or two.  Anyway, a few of my friends recommended Fish.

So I rang them up yesterday to get a quote as I found their website to have a few flaws:

  • Didn’t have my make and model of wheelchair
  • When you click on “Get Your Quote” you are taken through the steps to “purchase” the insurance.

It turns out Fish did actually have my make/model of wheelchair but was just not showing up on the website.  This flaw could possibly invalidate your insurance if you haven’t selected your correct wheelchair.

The first man I spoke with was helpful but sounded rather bored and like he really didn’t want to be there.  I didn’t feel confident in going any further with my enquiry or even purchase, so I told him I would ring back later.  Which I did do.  The second man I spoke with was very nice and very chatty, actually, it got to the point where I thought I was never going to get off the phone but nonetheless, I did.  He answered all my questions and I was happy enough to go ahead and purchase the insurance.

At the time of taking out my insurance, here are a couple of the things they cover:

  • Loss or theft Up to £7,000
  • Third-party liability Up to £2m
  • Contingent liability of Up to £2m
  • Personal accident Up to £3,000
  • Worldwide cover (including baggage handler cover) – Excludes liability cover in North America & Canada (Up to 21 days)

Please remember, insurance companies are always changing/updating their policies, so the above may be different if/when you enquire/purchase yours.

A couple of points to remember:

  • Make sure you tell them if your wheelchair is manual or electric
  • If your wheelchair is NHS or privately owned – Each have their own pricing
  • Make sure you pick the correct option for your wheelchair/scooter – You don’t want to invalidate your insurance

To get more information, please visit Fish’s website:  https://www.fishinsurance.co.uk/

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Spectra XTR2: Electric Wheelchair Review

Spectra XTR2: Electric Wheelchair Review -Electric wheelchairs or any type of disability aid are designed to make our lives easier and make us more independent. I would be house-bound and unable to have any kind of life outside my home without my electric wheelchair. A simple task of making a drink would be impossible. I share my review of my electric wheelchair.

Spectra XTR2:  Electric Wheelchair Review - Black & white electric wheelchair the Spectra XTR2

I got my Spectra XTR2 electric wheelchair via the NHS, so, unfortunately, I can’t tell you about all the different specs that are available for this chair.  The only thing I am aware of, is the seating and backrest.  I know there are a couple of options for these.

  1. I’ve had this chair now for approx 7 months and the first thing I should mention is the fact it has a solid seat base, not a canvas seat.  This makes the suspension really bad, especially for people with back issues.  According to Invacare, they say “High torque motors and a unique suspension design provide a smoother, easier ride”.  Rubbish, from my experience!!  I feel every bump I go over.  I have wooden thresholds in my home (yeah I know, doesn’t make sense for a wheelchair adapted property) and I am jolted every time I have to go over one.  Only yesterday I went into a shop who had a step of bout half an inch and I felt I was gonna be thrown out of my chair because of the jolt I got.  Really hurt my back and chest.  With the solid seat, it is essential to have a very good cushion to protect your coccyx.  

    ***UPDATE***  I have had my suspension springs changed for softer ones and so far this has made an improvement.  There are different levels of springs: 
  • Orange – Normal
  • White – Hard
  • Black – Very hard
  • Black – Xtra hard

I now have the Orange ones.  I do still feel the bumps but at least they feel softer and not so jarring through my body!!

  1. This chair also has tilt and recline.  This is pretty cool, especially when watching the TV or at the cinema.  Most wheelchair spaces at cinemas are extremely close to the screen so watching a movie plays havoc with your neck.  Having tilt & recline is a godsend for this, especially if you have the headrest, oh yes it can come with one of those too

  2. The arm-rests that came with my chair offered no real comfort.  The padding was so low grade you can feel the wood inside.  So if you’re like me and use the arm-rests to transfer, then you are going to need more padding or new arm-rests.

  3. The battery life is not what I expected.  I was told this chair is compared to the Storm.  Sorry but this chair doesn’t even come close to the Storm, (yes, I had one for 4 years).  So don’t be fobbed off.  According to different websites, you’re supposed to be able to get 30km (18.6411 miles) out of one charge.  I charge my chair all night, it came with a new type of battery charger where it shows you if it is half charged/fully charged.  My charger always says it is fully charged, yet, I just don’t seem to get much out of it before needing to charge it again.  I certainly don’t get 30 km, that’s for sure.  My previous chair (Harrier plus) seemed to do a lot more per charge.  It only needed charging approx every 2-3 days, regardless of where I went.  This chair doesn’t seem to want to do much work.  I know tilt/recline will use the battery but in all honesty, I use them hardly at all.

    ***UPDATE***  I was extremely unhappy with the battery performance and nervous of going any kind of distance, so I contacted my wheelchair service and they agreed that the distance my chair was doing, was not normal.  They arranged for me to have new batteries (the heavy-duty ones) and boy, the difference is staggering!  I would now say 30km is probably possible, (not put that distance to the test) but more than suitable for my needs.

  4. The ride is now more comfortable than it was before since my springs were changed.  If you look at the picture above, you will see that chair has orange springs on the side.  My chair had the white ones but now I have the orange ones.  Looking at the picture again, I see the two front wheels look somewhat more luxurious than the ones I have.  Hmmm, I think this chair could possibly be a lot more comfortable than what I have got!!!!

    ***UPDATE***  When having my springs changed, it was also agreed that my front wheels/castors would also be changed.  I now have the front wheels shown in the image above.  This has now made most bumps a lot softer feeling.  Before every bump seemed to jolt right through my body and it was like my front wheels went down with a massive thud.  Not any more.

  5. The backrest I have has adjustable straps.  Meaning I can tighten or loosen them to give more or less support in my back.  The chair has about 5 straps, so getting the right support in the right place is fairly easy.

In my opinion, this is a good chair and great for outdoor use.  The batteries (heavy duty ones) will get you around effortlessly and give you 5-7 miles distance easily, (this I have put to the test).  Tilt & Recline offer many seating positions so getting comfy should not be a problem…..Just make sure you know what specification your chair will have when ordering.

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Hands opening a sachet of tablets

PillTime: Home Deliver Pharmacy Service

Pill Time – Home delivery pharmacy service of medication. Are they any good?  According to PillTime’s website: “PillTime does everything your high street pharmacy does while making your life more convenient and medication easier to manage.

PillTime:  Home Deliver Pharmacy Service  -  Strip of pills being pulled out of a box

“We get your prescription from your GP,  pre-pack your medication by the dose into clearly labelled pouches and deliver it to your door – as easy as that”.

As easy as that they say……Hmmmm, not my experience that’s for sure.  Many of you may be thinking exactly what I thought.  What a great idea, no more running to the chemist, or asking family to collect your prescription.  Things don’t always go as we plan.  For those of you that are interested here is my experience of PillTime.

I spoke to pill time initially to join their service.  I gave them all the information regarding my medication etc.  When and what I take during one day.  My first batch arrived with lots and lots and lots of pouches.

I had two pouches for my morning tablets, presumably because of the number of pills I have to take, they wouldn’t all fit into one pouch with the information that is printed on the pouch.  I had several pouches for lunchtime, although, I only have one pill to take at lunchtime so that seemed weird and then I had about four or five pouches for the evening and bedtime.  So, I phoned pill time and told them exactly what I would like in each pouch, which should leave me with 4 pouches a day.  Two in the morning and one each for lunch and evening/bedtime.  So I awaited my second batch.

I received an email informing me that my next batch was due and if there were any changes to please phone them as soon as possible. I knew I had already contacted pill time previously, regarding my medication so had no reason to contact them now.

Approximately 10 days after receiving this email, I received a phone call telling me my doctor had not given my full prescription, therefore they had to chase up the rest of my prescription. This would not cause any issues and my medication would be dispatched to me within the next 48 hours. This I believe was on a Monday.  I explained that I was a bit concerned as my meds ran out on Thursday, I was told this would not be a problem as my meds would be with me by Friday before 1pm.

I received another call from PillTime on the Friday, informing me that one of their machines had broke and my meds missed the post.  I was assured that my package was already boxed and ready to go and would be with me by Saturday, again, before 1 PM. I brought up the fact that my meds had now run out and I had no meds for that day.  The lady explained that she was aware of this and had spoken with the pharmacists and they told her although it wasn’t the best thing to be doing it should not cause me any problems missing my medication for one day…..Hmmm not happy at this point and somewhat concerned as I had no meds.

PillTime:  Home Deliver Pharmacy Service  -  Hands opening a sachet of pills

Early Saturday morning, yes you guessed it, I received yet another phone call from PillTime.  Would you believe it, they were telling me again due to some sort of issue my meds had missed the post.  I asked, “what a second time”?  The lady was quite shocked and asked has this happened before?  I explained yes, yesterday.  I was assured my medication would be with me yesterday before 1 PM. Now today you’re telling me exactly the same thing, how can this be the case when I was told previously my medication was already boxed and ready to go in the post? Obviously she had no knowledge of this. She apologised and said this is unacceptable. I totally agreed with her and explained once is a mistake twice is more than a coincidence but with all of that in mind, my main concern was being left without medication, therefore, what was she going to do about it?

She explained I had two options, option one was to wait until Monday for my pills to reach me or option two she can release my prescription back onto the NHS online service so I can go to my local pharmacist and get my prescription. This would be the easiest option as all she had to do was click a few buttons to get my prescription back on the system.  Yeah, again a simple task, what could possibly go wrong this time?  I gave it about an hour or two and then went to the chemist, (you’ll love this bit). PillTime had not put all of my prescriptions back online, therefore the chemist was unable to dispense my full prescription. So I had my medication and now still had to wait till Monday before I could get in touch with the doctor from the rest of my prescription.

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Comfortable Nights Sleep?: Adjustable Bed

Comfortable Nights Sleep?: Adjustable Bed -Adjustable beds comfy or just a gimmick? Having a disability can make having a good night sleep seem impossible. I bought an adjustable bed recently and thought I’d share my thoughts with you.

Comfortable Nights Sleep?:  Adjustable Bed - Grey adjustable bed with mattress

My old bed was so full of lumps & bumps, I woke every morning with terrible pain all over my body, especially my back and I felt I had been fighting in the boxing ring. So I knew it was time for a new bed and especially a new mattress. We (hubby and I) searched online for what we were looking for and found the adjustable bed frame (pictured left) on Dreams website. This was a bed frame that came with a built-in TV and was adjustable at both the head and feet. I felt so posh!!


We then had to look for a mattress to go with it. We tested a few in the store and chose a firm mattress. Although it was a “Firm” mattress, being a memory foam mattress with over 2000 micro pocket springs, it didn’t feel rock hard. The softer ones felt like they were grabbing me and sucking me into the bed. This made turning over in the bed and trying to get on/off the bed very difficult. So, we went for the mattress Hyde & Sleep Hybrid Raspberry Mattress. We were told this mattress was compatible with the adjustable bed frame we had chosen. (Make sure you check as not all mattresses are compatible). So we went ahead and ordered the bed frame and mattress.

We were told it would take 6-8 weeks for delivery, (it actually took 10 weeks) we were somewhat disappointed at the quoted time-frame as we were quite desperate for a good nights sleep but what else could we do? (We were actually getting a good deal with the offer they had at the time).

The time finally came that our bed was being delivered. The delivery guys were wonderful. They took all the boxes up to our bedroom and laid them on the floor in the order they were to be assembled. This made it much more simple to put the bed together.

Comfortable Nights Sleep?:  Adjustable Bed - Grey adjustable bed frame with dimensions of the frame

Hubby put the whole bed & mattress together in 3 hours by himself but needed help in moving the whole thing into position as it now weighed a ton. It is recommended 2 people build it together but it can be done by 1. Now, one thing to remember! The bed frame offers two heights, not something told by staff in-store or on the website. We only found this out once we started to assemble the bed. I decided to go for the higher height due to how I transfer onto the bed from my wheelchair. Once assembled, the bed frame is solid and feels extremely sturdy, no wobble whatsoever!

The delivery guys advised us to let the mattress breath for a couple of hours before putting on any bedding, they said sometimes the mattress can smell, which is perfectly normal. After a few hours, all was well.

I have to admit, being able to raise my head slightly to sleep is a major benefit for me due to my Vertigo, this lets me lie on either side without feeling dizzy! In all fairness, I would say the only downside for me is when you raise the back up to watch the TV. I have to put the back up practically vertical to see the TV and then you are pushed down the bed as the back-rest raises up making you sit even closer to the TV.

The mattress is extremely comfortable. You feel like you just sink nicely into it and every part of your body is being supported. The mattress needs rotating head to toe once a week for the first 3 months, then every month after that.

Conclusion!

Pros:

  • Adjustable
  • Easy to assemble
  • Built-in TV
  • Sturdy

Cons:

  • It is a big bed frame – Make sure you have space.
  • Heavy – So once assembled, very heavy to move around
  • When raising the head section, it pushes you down the bed as it seems to bend in the middle of the bed rather than nearer the head.
  • Not VAT Exempt as this bed frame is not aimed at just disabled people.

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Fault After Fault: Wessex Through Floor Lift

Fault After Fault: Wessex Through Floor Lift: I am a full-time wheelchair user, I have a Through Floor Lift (TFL) to enable me to get upstairs in my home.  This lift was installed by a company called Wessex on the request of my housing association:  Notting Hill Genesis.  This lift has given me nothing but problems after problems since day 1.  I have been living in my property for 12 years at the time of writing this.

I never dreamed it possible to ever be able to live in a “house” as a wheelchair user.  I believed I would only ever live in a single level property, so when I was offered a house, I was both ecstatic and shocked.  When I went to view the property, I realised there would be a through floor lift to enable me to get up and down the house.  This lift was supplied by Wessex Lifts.

So there I was all those years ago in a new property with a through floor lift and thinking I was very posh, haha. Unfortunately, this euphoria was not meant to last as I was plagued with nothing but problems with this lift.  I had to make phone call after phone call to Notting Hill, reporting fault after fault.

Here is a list of some of the problems I had:

Fault After Fault:  Wessex Through Floor Lift - White through floor lift sitting the down position
  1. The first problem, which happened most of the lifespan of the lift, (10 years) was the door not having enough power to close onto the latch.  The engineer came out and seemed to fix the problem. A couple of days later, the same problem occurred, so yet again, I phoned my housing officer. You guessed it, another engineer visit.  Again, the engineer seemed to fix the problem and go away. This happened repeatedly, eventually, the problem was indeed fixed.  The main issue with this problem was, if the door wasn’t shutting, I couldn’t use the lift,  therefore having to sleep on the sofa downstairs.  Something that happened quite often!

  2. My TFL would sink approx half an inch to an inch overnight. This meant the lift was not fully in the “Up” position, so, once I entered the lift in my Electric Wheelchair,  the extra weight would make the lift sink further, making it impossible for the door to close.  Once again engineers came out, scratched their heads, fiddled about, went away, came out, scratched their heads, went away, you get the picture.  Eventually, the problem was fixed several months down the road.

  3. This fault was by far the longest to fix.  This took years to fix.  In the end, one of the head engineers from Wessex themselves had to come out and have a go at fixing this one!!  As I travelled down in the lift, the safety under-pan (that detects any objects under the lift and if so, stops the lift from travelling any further) would seem to get stuck to the bottom of the lift, then violently break free and drop into place.  Sometimes, stopping the lift altogether.  I can’t remember how many times the engineers were sent out to fix it but I can assure you, it was a lot more than it should have been.  Even top managers were called out because no one could seemingly fix the problem.  It did eventually get sorted.

  4. The most frightening fault had to be the one where we had come home from doing our shopping and found the lift about to catch fire.  Yes, I said fire!!  We came in the front door and my lift is directly opposite on the other side of our hallway.  I saw a lot of smoke coming from the left side of the lift, which is up against a wall.  The smell was like burning rubber.  My husband very quickly went to the cupboard to switch off the lift and all electrics and immediately called for an engineer to come out.  He came out but had to order a new part.  The solenoid switch is what almost caught fire.  So again, another night having to sleep on the sofa.  I ended up sleeping on the sofa for a few nights.

It’s hard to explain just how a person’s daily life is affected when adaptations do go wrong.  As good as these adaptations are, when they do go wrong, you are left stranded, unable to do the task they were supplied for.  So obviously this meant I couldn’t get upstairs, which in turn meant I couldn’t go to bed, which in turn meant I had to sleep on the sofa.  Now, this wasn’t the first time this had happened, there were times before when a fault could not be fixed on the spot, or a part had to be ordered, I’d have to sleep on the sofa every time. This would make my Scoliosis much worse and the pain unbearable.  I would wake up sore and stiff every time. 

In one of the very few services that my lift got.  (I was unaware my lift should have been serviced every 6 months).  I was told the lift needed a new roof to meet new health & safety regulations.  Then realising my lift was over 10 years old at the time, it was decided it would be more cost-effective to replace it with a new lift altogether.  At last, some common sense!

Well, I won’t bore you with ALL the drama that happened but I will tell you that I contacted my housing officer, her boss and her boss also, explaining how I didn’t want to be stuck with the same lift due to all the problems I had to deal with, with the last lift.  I made a formal complaint and everything.  You wouldn’t believe how many mistakes were made, the duty of care missing etc.

Several companies came out to take measurements, photos etc, so they could then give Notting Hill a quote for a new lift.  Can you guess what they went with?  Yep, the same bloody lift!!  Can you believe after all my complaining, begging, formal complaint, they chose the same one!!  Talk about throwing good money after bad.  Brainless!!!

So, now I’m on my 2nd Wessex TFL of the same make/model because Notting Hill decided the best option was to give me the same lift ignoring ALL my pleas to have a different one.  How nice of them eh?

Well, what can I say…….2nd lift, 2 years down the road and exactly the same faults happening all over again!!!!! 

  1. Lift door not closing, not fixed.
  2. Underpan sticking.  Not fixed.
  3. Grinding noises.  Not fixed.
  4. Dropping overnight.  Found to be heat-related.  (Actually, it turns out this was incorrect as it happened repeatedly all year round).
  5. Door not shutting level, therefore not closing onto the latch.  Just bounces off the latch and opens.  (Now fixed).
  6. Door not being registered as closed, so lift won’t move.  So I have to get back out, close the door, send the lift up a few inches, bring it back down and try again.

***Update** 15/7/2020

Number 4 onwards have been happening for past 6-8 months.  4 & 5 have since been resolved.  6 is still being investigated by Wessex themselves as again no-one else can fix the issue.  It would seem even Wessex themselves can’t fix the problem….No surprise there then.  An engineer came out to fix both issues of lift dropping and lift not sensing the door is closed/locked.  So now waiting for another/same engineer to come out again.  Nearly two weeks now since my regular engineer said he would report it back to Wessex.

The list just keeps growing and the problems ongoing, as soon as one is fixed, another one rears its ugly head.  The worst part though, is I continually live in fear of going out and coming home and again finding the lift almost on fire, or god forbid worse. 

Is this really how one should have to live?  Oh, hang on…..We are only disabled people, what do we matter!!  All because Notting Hill Genesis (previously known as Notting Hill) wants to save some money but in all fairness, what are they saving when they have to keep paying engineers to keep coming out and try to fix the problems??

Would I recommend this lift?  NOT BLOODY LIKELY!!  

Would I recommend Wessex?  NOT BLOODY LIKELY!!  What I can’t understand is this, both lifts (old/new) have presented exactly the same faults and in the same order??  Wouldn’t this suggest this Wessex lift has a design/manufacturing fault??  If so, why are Wessex ignoring this?  After all, I tell everyone and anyone willing to listen to me about this awful lift.

Although I would have to say the majority of Notting Hill Genesis’s contracted engineers sent out to me, I would recommend even less!!!  Some of them literally just came out, banged a couple of things and then left.

If you liked my blog, why not sign up to my Newsletter so you never miss a beat, or leave a comment below. If there is anything you would like me to blog about, don’t hesitate to Contact Me.

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Group of wheelchair users sat chatting next to AJM's logo with unfit stamp beneath

NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours “Fit For Purpose”?

NHS Wheelchair Service/Repairers: Is Yours “Fit For Purpose”? – Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, NHS Wheelchair Service, supplied me with my Spectra XTR 2 electric wheelchair. The batteries on my wheelchair unfortunately leaked and caused £4,000 worth of damage to all my floors. How well does your NHS W.S deal with things when they go wrong? In my experience, mine turns it’s back in the hope the problem goes away.

Is Your NHS Wheelchair Service “Fit For Purpose”? Have you received failed appointments, wrong parts? Has faulty parts damaged your home, “duty of care missing”?

Read on…. WARNING!!! In-depth blog. All identifying names have been removed from any/all correspondence shown or copied.

My New Chair – Unfit for Purpose?

I thought I would share the nightmare experience I had with my NHS Wheelchair Service (W.S) at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton, under (St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust).

After receiving my brand new electric indoor/outdoor wheelchair in Oct 2017, an Invacare Spectra XTR2, (read my review of my Spectra here). I thought this chair was the bee’s knees as it had all the bells and whistles like tilt & recline facility.

NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"? NHS wheelchair service supplied Black & white electric wheelchair the Spectra XTR2

In June of the following year (2018), I had to have my batteries replaced. This was due to them not charging correctly so they would run out of juice far too quickly. I also noticed my batteries were not heavy-duty, so they were being changed for heavy-duty batteries, (which is what I was supposed to have been given in the 1st place). I had several issues with the engineer not arriving at the time, or on the day specified. Nevertheless, they were eventually changed, so all should be well from here on!!

Literally a year to the date I had to report another fault with my batteries. (The same problem as before). I was concerned as I had noticed what looked like stains on my wooden floors all over my home and holes in my bedroom carpet that looked like burn marks. Now, these marks were on my floors where I would park my wheelchair for periods of time. At the kitchen table where I would eat, middle of my lounge floor where I sat to watch TV, at my desk, at the entrance of my through-floor lift and in my bedroom where I would charge my chair overnight.

I decided I would check this out once the engineer was here and able to look at the burn marks himself. When the engineer came out with my new batteries, I showed him the burn marks and he agreed it did indeed look like my batteries had/were leaking. This was confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt, once he took them outside to change them over for the new ones. The plastic box, that housed the batteries were full of liquid. The engineer took photo’s of my damaged floors and told me he would take them back to the depot and get the deputy lead to contact me.

Contact with AJM – Compensation Request

I waited a couple of weeks and as I had heard nothing from the repairers AJM Healthcare, I contacted the deputy lead asking if my engineer had spoken to him regarding my leaking batteries and the damage they had caused? He responded saying this is the first he had heard of it and when my engineer returns to the depot, he would speak to him and update me the following day. I received no update!!

A week had passed so I had to contact AJM again, this time in writing. This was their response: (X = My engineer).

Thank you for your patience while I investigated this issue. I have spoken to “X” and having looked at the pictures “X” has taken it is clear that gel has been leaking from the batteries. “X” also explained that when he said the previous engineer had not fitted them correctly he meant that they had not been connected as tightly as they should be, this would not cause the batteries to leak as they are a sealed unit. We have also checked this with the manufacturer of them.

I have also checked back on our database and it seems these were last changed 08.06.2018 and have been on the chair for a year.

Unfortunately AJM are unable to accept responsibility for any damage caused for the batteries leaking and as such will not be able to compensate you for any damage caused.

As per your Terms and Conditions of Loan with the Wheelchair Service they suggest you have personal accident / damage cover in place for this such an incident to claim against.

regards

Hmmm, ok, as per my T&C of loan? I was never given any T&C, so I couldn’t argue that point. (As it turned out, (because I had to ask for a copy at one of the wheelchair user group meetings) the T&C doesn’t say that at all! It does, however, advise holiday insurance for your chair when travelling abroad). So, me being me, asked for further info regarding my batteries!!!

So I emailed AJM once again.

Dear Mr…..

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act, general goodwill act or whatever act is necessary; please can you provide the following information to me:

  1. Paperwork showing the date the faulty batteries were purchased by AJM and where they were purchased from.
  2. How and where were the batteries stored?
  3. Who is the manufacturer of batteries?
  4. Were the faulty batteries inspected at any time before installing onto my Electric Wheelchair?  If so please provide corresponding report/paperwork showing what was entailed in this inspection.
  5. Were the batteries charged before delivering to me?  If so, please provide corresponding paperwork.
  6. Copies of the PPM reports that have been performed on my Spectra XTR2 electric wheelchair.
  7. Explanation of what you mean by a “Sealed Unit” actually means.
  8. Have the faulty batteries been inspected since being returned to AJM, to find out the cause of the leakage?  If so, what were your findings, please supply this report.
  9. Full explanation of how the faulty batteries had been connected incorrectly and why this would NOT have contributed to the batteries leaking.

This information should arrive at me via email, no later than 14 days from the date of this email.

Again, I had to chase up AJM as they obviously didn’t respond within the 14 days as stated! Finally, now in September 2019, I received a reply. (answers are in bold):

Dear Mr…,

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Data Protection Act, general goodwill act or whatever act is necessary; please can you provide the following information to me:

  1. Paperwork showing the date the faulty batteries were purchased by AJM and where they were purchased from. We are unable to determine the date the batteries were purchased as they come in batch quantities but I can confirm they were purchased from MK Batteries.
  2. How and where were the batteries stored? The batteries are stored in our stores in a caged area in the packaging they were delivered in.
  3. Who is the manufacturer of batteries? MK Batteries.
  4. Were the faulty batteries inspected at any time before installing onto my Electric Wheelchair?  If so please provide corresponding report/paperwork showing what was entailed in this inspection. The batteries are inspected by the Fse before he fits them. We do not have any paperwork.
  5. Were the batteries charged before delivering to me?  If so, please provide corresponding paperwork. The batteries have 80% charge from the manufacturer so we do not need to charge them. Clients are advised to fully charge overnight before using the chair.
  6. Copies of the PPM reports that have been performed on my Spectra XTR2 electric wheelchair. This chair has not had a PPM.
  7. Explanation of what you mean by a “Sealed Unit” actually means. One single unit pre built, no part is able to be removed.
  8. Have the faulty batteries been inspected since being returned to AJM, to find out the cause of the leakage?  If so, what were your findings, please supply this report. The batteries have been scrapped which is the normal procedure.
  9. Full explanation of how the faulty batteries had been connected incorrectly and why this would NOT have contributed to the batteries leaking. The connection from the chair to the battery terminals were not tightened enough, this would not be any connection to the batteries leaking as a) No pressure is put on the batteries and b) the batteries are kept in place by the tray not the connection.

This information should arrive at me via email, no later than 14 days from the date of this email.

Yes, he basically copied and pasted my original email and added one sentence and deemed this an adequate response! 

Ok, so let’s break this lot down.

Q1 – A professional repair company is unable to determine when they purchased a batch shipment of batteries?? Indeed, 30-40 batteries costing approx £230 each are so easily misplaced!! There must be paperwork for this order!

Q2 – This is not how MK Batteries advise they should be stored. This is what MK says:

Q4 – If my memory serves me right, I believe at one of the user group meetings, it was explained that the Fse is the engineer that comes to your home to do the repairs. So, if this is correct, then he is the one who fitted my batteries incorrectly! (The previous engineer, to the one I have at present).

Q5 – Again, not advice from MK. Also, at many of the wheelchair user group meetings, it has been discussed that clients are so dependant on their/our chairs, replacement batteries should always be fully charged before fitting onto a client’s electric wheelchair. This was agreed by all parties involved, including AJM who attended these meetings. Also, AJM never advises clients to charge their chair overnight. The majority of the time, engineers come in, do what needs to be done and are gone again as quickly as possible.

Q6 – PPM is an annual service of our electric wheelchairs. So, 2 years down the road, my chair has not had one PPM done….Shocked yet?

Q7 – Well, that explains everything to Mrs Joe Bloggs, doesn’t it!

Q8 – The biggie – Scrapped!!!!! No, I found out later on from the wheelchair service this is not, I repeat NOT normal procedure!! AJM should have allowed the wheelchair service access to these batteries, so they could perform a FULL investigation!! (What are they trying to hide?)

NHS Wheelchair Service – Formal Complaint

NHS Wheelchair Service/repairers | Is Yours Fit For Purpose? – So, now on my 2nd set of batteries and believing my battery problem is now solved, I now need to sort out my floors and figure out if I am entitled to compensation for the damage caused. I was advised to get independent professional quotes for my formal complaint. The quotes were to replace all damaged flooring (as wooden laminate flooring can NOT be repaired) and came back just shy of £4,000. So I make my formal complaint to the wheelchair service’s complaints department and start the complaints procedure. I put everything down on paper and explain everything in great detail.

NHS Reply (click for larger image):

I was extremely disappointed in their reply, I stupidly expected more from the NHS, so I took them up on their offer of a meeting.

A meeting was arranged with the head of the wheelchair service and hospital director. I had my meeting on December 18th 2019. It went ok I suppose, the usual, the “we are sorry” bit and no shouting (on my part!) I kept calm and explained my grievance to both of them. In the end, I was offered two options:

  •  Local resolution – for claims up to £1k, which could be expedited quickly
  • · NHS claim resolution – for claims over £1k, which would be a more lengthy process

As the damage to my home was quoted at £3,800 and £3,900, I took the latter.

As I’m sure you can imagine, I am nervous my batteries would leak again, so around 4 months after having them fitted, I had them checked. They were fitted in July 2019 and we are now in December 2019. Guess what? I was astounded to see that these batteries are also showing signs of leaking?? WTF is going on with these batteries?? You can see below the start of the batteries leaking with just FOUR months of usage!! Maybe now you can imagine how much leakage there would have been in the first set of batteries after a full year of usage!! No wonder AJM wanted rid of them! So again, they were replaced.

I phoned the W.S immediately after my engineer left, explained the situation and told them they need to get hold of these batteries before AJM “dispose” of these batteries. Before an investigation can be done on them! (The batteries you see above were replaced 2/12/19). So in the space of 2 years, I’m on my 3rd set of batteries. Oh, the W.S informed me that AJM confirmed they would quarantine the batteries so they could be investigated by the W.S. (Remember that fact, it becomes important shortly).

In the pictures below, these are the 2nd set of batteries (checked 4 months after being fitted). The 1st pic shows the leak that the deputy lead from AJM saw. He wiped the batteries dry, less than 24 hours apart, the other pictures clearly show how much liquid has formed overnight, shocking really!

NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"? NHS Supplied electric wheelchair battery showing signs of leaking
The above batteries were wiped dry by the deputy lead from AJM
NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"?
Signs of leaking again, just 3 days later.
NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"?  Leaking batteries
24 hours later from the image above, shows how much liquid has formed overnight.

Black decorative line with swirl in the center

Battery Investigation – Deliberate Fraud?

An investigation was performed on the 2nd set of batteries that had been removed from my chair and quarantined. The result of this investigation is shown below:

NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"?
NHS Wheelchair Service/repairers | Is Yours Fit For Purpose? - Second page of inspection report

Close quotation marks in black
Open quotation marks in black

“There is no evidence that the current or previous sets of batteries are damaged and/or have the potential to leak battery acid”.

They say “there is no evidence that the current or previous sets of batteries are damaged and/or have the potential to leak battery acid”. Hang on, what??

  • “there is no evidence that the current or previous sets of batteries are damaged and/or have the potential to leak battery acid“. Just let that sink in!!
  • There is no evidence that the current or previous set of batteries…….Previous set of batteries? These were DISPOSED of by AJM!! So your basis for this is what?
  • “Or have the potential to leak”….EVERYTHING has the potential to leak, nothing is foolproof as my PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE clearly shows. Plus the deputy lead himself confirmed the batteries leaked.
  • “there is no evidence that the current or previous sets of batteries are damaged and/or have the potential to leak battery acid”. Would this have something to do with the fact the inspection/investigation was performed on a completely…….different……set……of……batteries!!!

You really couldn’t make this shit up if you tried!!!!

NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"? Electric wheelchair battery sitting inside hard plastic box
2nd set of batteries removed from my chair to be quarantined.
NHS Wheelchair Service: Is Yours "Fit For Purpose"? - Electric wheelchair batteries inspected by wheelchair service
Batteries inspected by Wheelchair Service

Look at the images above showing my leaking batteries, then look at the batteries in the inspection letter. How many differences can you see? I make 4 main differences!!

  1. Mine (M) – Plastic handle. Inspected batteries (IB) – Rope handle.
  2. M – Warning sticker & bar code sticker. IB – Sunrise sticker (In different area on the battery).
  3. M – Has no yellow label hanging from the handle. IB – Has a yellow label.
  4. M – No hexagonal nuts across the batteries. IB – 6 hexagonal nuts going across both batteries.

I emailed the W.S to get clarification on the matter 8/2/20:

Dear Mrs…..,
I have one question, please.
The batteries pictured on Page 1 of the report on the investigation into my chair batteries you sent me on 9/1/20 are these the batteries that the investigation was performed on?
Kind regards

Reply 10/2/20:

Hi Caroline,

Thank you for your email.

I can confirm that the photos included in the report are the batteries that were inspected at AJM on the 20th of December. These are the batteries that had been placed in quarantine following removal from your powerchair.

Kind regards

I didn’t bother replying back as the incompetence shown, just stunned me into silence. This is beyond astounding!! The head of the Wheelchair Service, read, investigated and replied to my original complaint. Stated in this complaint many times by myself and AJM, was the fact my batteries were from MK Batteries. Not Sunrise as shown in the image.

How on earth does that kind of mistake happen?? Seriously, how??

  • I phoned the W.S directly after my engineer left my home with the leaking batteries, asking them to make sure these batteries are not “disposed” of. I was assured they would get these batteries quarantined.
  • My engineer mentioned he would have to package my batteries separately from other items in his van to prevent contamination.
  • The head of the W.S received a copy of this inspection.

So, if all of these things happened, how in the world did the wrong batteries get given to the W.S when they went to AJM’s depot to perform the inspection?? My opinion. A deliberate act of falsifying evidence to alter the results of the investigation performed by the W.S. The question now, is what part does the wheelchair service play in all of this? (To this day, the W.S have made no further comment on this cock-up or taken any measures to make sure this doesn’t happen again).

Of course, I forwarded my findings in the form of a letter to the hospital director, head of the wheelchair service and the resolution team, all 5 pages worth (hence why I haven’t shown it here). I asked for acknowledgement of receipt of my letter, nothing as yet…Are 2 days long enough to expect an acknowledgement? or am I being impatient?

Black decorative line with swirl in the center

In January 2020, my batteries were yet again changed and I was given a new charger. I was told, “just in case” this played a part. Seriously, how many times will this need to happen? I already have no confidence whatsoever in the batteries being supplied to me by AJM and terrified if and when I get my floors sorted out that the same issue won’t happen again!!!

I have been given no assurances by the wheelchair service, actually, I’ve had no further correspondence from them at all, just told if I wish to claim, it will be a lengthy process and if I have home insurance, they advise me to claim on that! I’m sure you do, your performance record stays clean that way!! (Oh, heads up, home insurance doesn’t cover you unless you have accidental damage cover which is an add on at an extra premium price. Or at least this is the case with Nationwide’s Home Contents Insurance).

NHS Resolutions

As I am making a claim through the hospital claims department (NHS Resolution) I received a letter asking me for more info, so I sent it.

I don’t think they are going to be very happy with me as it turned out to be 9 pages long. Well, I didn’t want to leave anything out for them to use against me. It’s so annoying as you always think of more information you could have supplied after sending letter/email. I have had no confirmation that they have received my reply even though I sent a separate email asking for one. So now I am worried they haven’t received it.

I decided to phone to see if he had received my email, he confirmed he had. I then received this email from him:

Good afternoon Mrs X,

I refer to our telephone conversation yesterday lunchtime & acknowledge receipt of your e-mail dated 3/2/20.

I am sorry that this matter has dragged on for so long – I’m sure it would’ve been resolved by now if liability was admitted, but as you know this is not the case. As you are aware, the Trust does not supply the batteries and AJ Mobility Ltd (an independent contractor) is contracted by the Trust to maintain and repair the wheelchairs, so there are other parties involved and we need to liaise with them.

We are awaiting further information/instructions from the Trust and our further advices will follow as soon as possible.

In the meantime, we would respectfully advise that if and when liability is resolved, any settlement proposals will be on an indemnity basis, that is a deduction will be made for wear and tear based on the age of the damaged flooring and carpet.     

Kind Regards  

Is it my imagination or have I been very badly treated throughout this whole process? If I was someone less able to stand up for myself, I wouldn’t have stood a chance against this lot.

My personal opinion is AJM has known all along they have a problem with their batteries. Now they have come up against someone who has caught them out and trying to hold them accountable, they are running around like headless chickens trying to cover up their incompetence.

  1. Why else would they dispose of the 1st set of batteries immediately and then deny even knowing the batteries had been returned?
  2. As a company, you must have a paper trail of stock bought for tax, insurance purposes at the very least.
  3. You don’t “accidentally” make a mistake like quarantining the wrong batteries. I believe, AJM purposefully supplied the wrong batteries to be investigated to the Wheelchair Service?
  4. How involved in this “mistake” is the Wheelchair Service. Why did they not check serial numbers of batteries removed from my chair against the ones being inspected? How did they not see the Sunrise sticker when they already knew my batteries were supplied by MK Batteries?
  5. Why did the W.S ignore all previous complaints made by their wheelchair users regarding underperforming batteries? Why didn’t the W.S investigate these complaints?
  6. I would like to know why haven’t the W.S not investigated the reasons for the swap? Or are they aware their investigative skills are more than useless?

I even tried to get my local MP Ruth Cadbury involved, for all the good that did me. One of her aids just emailed me links to the CAB and such like.

When this all started, I contacted my legal helpline (through my home insurance) as obviously, I needed advice. This case, unfortunately, didn’t come under any consumer act laws, as I didn’t “purchase” my chair. (Hence why I contacted my local MP).

My wheelchair is supplied by the NHS for free, under a loan agreement. (Well, if that’s what you call 4-6 bullet point loan agreement!) So under my insurance policy T&C, they were unable to help me take legal action. So, in light of all this new information (above) and lack of duty of care etc, I contacted my solicitor again. I was told I have a good case of negligence but would have to take this to court myself, as again my policy doesn’t cover this type of case.

(Nationwide, your policy is not worth the paper it’s written on. Shame your so-called “Advisor” didn’t “advise” me how the “Accidental Cover” worked. I won’t be renewing my policy!) I was advised to make going to court my last resort and to give the hospital the opportunity to settle out of court. Yeah like that will happen!! So this is why I sent my 5-page letter to the hospital with my new findings. If/when I get a reply, you know I’ll let you know.

Black decorative line with swirl in the center

AJM Delay TacticsIgnoring the Problem Won’t Make it Go Away!

I eventually received a reply from NHS Resolutions (NHS.R) explaining their delay in responding to me, was due to trying to get a resolution from AJM and in the way of an explanation, sent me the conversation between them and AJM. (People’s names have been removed).

NHS Resolutions = Pink text | AJM = Blue text

NHS Resolutions – 16 April 2020:

Good afternoon,

I am sorry for the delay in coming back to you regarding your claim, but enclose by way of a update an e-mail exchange between ourselves and AJM.

As you will see, they have agreed to re-investigate this matter although this was before the current global pandemic escalated, so I don’t know whether AJM have made contact with you again yet. However, I wanted to keep you in the loop because I am not yet able to provide you with our formal response and anticipate that it will be at least a month or two before I am able to do so. That said, you will note the Trust’s position from my e-mail dated 21/2/20.

Our further advices will follow as soon as possible.

Kind Regards

I have to wait another month OR two?? AJM has refused to respond in the NINE months since my original reporting of the fault and Seven months since the start of this claim, what makes him think they will now respond in TWO months??????

NHS.R – 21 February 2020 :

Dear,

Further to my previous e-mail dated 11/2/20, I enclose another e-mail we have received from the Claimant containing “new evidence” for your attention.

As you will see, the allegations are primarily against AJM & we remain of the view that this claim is one for you &/or your insurers to deal with before it litigates or escalates.

I therefore look forward to hearing from you or your insurers ASAP please.  

MR X– can you please respond on behalf of the Trust. You may already be aware of it because the Claimant has also sent it to Miss A & Mr B.

Kind Regards  

NHS.R – 16 March 2020 :

Good afternoon,

I refer to my e-mails dated 11/2/20 & 21/2/20 & cannot trace having received a response for either yourself or your insurers yet.

Can you please respond urgently.

Kind Regards  

AJM – 18 March 2020

Hi

Apologies I have not responded, for some reason your emails went to junk folder.

In regards to the client we investigated fully and in depth and AJM were found not to be at fault.

The batteries that were in the chair had been in for over a year before they failed and were out of warranty period. The batteries were not fitted incorrectly and were the right type for the chair the client is in. The reasons for them failing could be down to charging regime but that is difficult to ascertain.

My apologies that this seems to be continuing as the last I knew it was with the WCS as is their equipment on the back of our findings with no further contact from them. If you would like me to re-visit this situation with you then I will be happy to do so. Just to add that this situation at investigation did involve the National Operations Manager for the company and was taken seriously and fully investigated.

Kind Regards

So now they are suggesting it is how I charge my chair? I have charged my chair the same way I always have for the past 16 years but of course, that could be the reason! AJM, not at fault? Well, of course, they’re going to say that! An investigation was performed on what could only be described as brand new batteries by the W.S. Of course, AJM couldn’t possibly be at fault!! AJM claims their National Operations Manager was involved, yet, deliberate mistakes were STILL being made!! (I digress).

NHS.R – 18 March 2020

Good afternoon,

Thanks for your response.

Your suggestion to revisit the situation is welcome although the Trust, like I do, remain of the view that this claim is one for AJM to pick up as the alleged failings are attributed to AJM’s negligence. The Claimant has made further allegations in her most recent letter dated 12/2/20, which I trust that you have seen, & should be grateful if you would respond to these when you reply. Do you intend to contact the Claimant as part of your re-investigation? How much time will you need? Our liability response is due on Monday 23/3/20 & I am on leave from tomorrow until next Tuesday, so I really need to contact her today to keep her in the loop.

I look forward to hearing from you by return.

Kind Regards

AJM – 18 March 2020

Hi

I will speak to my Line Manager about the situation and see what he would like to do. The hope is that we have all of the investigation notes that we can send on for you to look at so you are fully in the picture. I will contact the client next week when I hear back from him. As you can appreciate we are fully engaged this week with strategy planning in light of the current situation with the Coronavirus.

Kind Regards

No, you didn’t contact me then or at point in the future!!

NHS.R – 16 April 2020

Good afternoon,

Can you please advise the present position regarding your re-investigation & response to the Claimant’s new allegations. I appreciate that we are in the middle of a global pandemic, but I still need to keep her in the loop & provide a timescale, particualrly as our liability response is overdue.

I look forward to hearing from you ASAP.

Kind Regards

And that was that!! Or was it, yep, you know me by now, I sent another email to NHS.R

Read PDF version of my response here

I know this will end up in the small claims court. Something I so didn’t want to happen or relish going through but in all fairness, with how things have progressed to date, what other results can one see happening??

UPDATE – 15th June 2020

Tomorrow is the deadline for the extra time NHS.R so kindly gave themselves. I had no choice in this matter you see, he gave himself a month or two extra as he still hadn’t heard from AJM!! Ha….What a surprise!!! Exactly TWO MONTHS tomorrow is the deadline. Hedge any bets as to whether or not I will get a reply? Let alone a satisfactory one??

Formal Response – NHS Resolutions

Well now…..I got a response! 5:50pm talk about milk this out to the last knockings!! This is what they said:

Good afternoon Mrs X,

I am pleased to inform you that, after prolonged negotiations, St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (who we act for) and AJM Healthcare (who we don’t) have finally come to an agreement in relation to sharing your claim between them, with NHS Resolution dealing with the negotiations. I am  sorry that it has taken so long to get to this point, but hopefully the matter can proceed more speedily from now on.

Turning to the value of your claim (quantum), it is difficult to obtain any context from the close up photos you have provided and we wonder whether you can provide a floor plan with measurements and photos, showing the damage in context with rest of the affected rooms and the general condition of the flooring and carpet. It is also unclear whether all of the stains have been caused by the acid and if indeed, any of them can be professionally removed – the estimates you have provided make no reference to this or indicate whether the carpet/flooring is a like for like replacement.

We would also advise that you are only be entitled to recover the cost of replacement (assuming none of the stains can be removed) less a deduction for wear and tear. I note that the floors are between one and eight years old and that you have no receipts although if the kitchen floor was only one year old, are you able to remember the supplier? If so, can you go back and obtain copy of the original invoice from them? Finally, please note that we are also unable to pay for undamaged areas if there are doors or physical barriers in between, so again a plan/more photos would be useful.  

Notwithstanding the above, we are keen to see an early resolution to his matter now that liability is no longer an issue and are willing to offer you the sum of £1,500 in full and final settlement of your claim. If this amount is acceptable, kindly provide your bank details and I will ask the Trust to make a BACS payment to you as soon as possible. If not, please provide the additonal information requested above.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

  1. He looks forward to hearing from me? Yeah right, only if I’m willing to accept their pitiful offer!
  2. So the Trust & AJM are willing to “share” my claim? So, liability has been accepted then! Well, dig deeper guys and do the right thing.
  3. Value of my claim? Quantum? What the hell is that?? Ok a quick search revealed this: Quantum meruit means “the amount he deserves” or “as much as he has earned”. In most cases it denotes a claim for a reasonable sum in respect of services or goods supplied to the defendant. … A claim for quantum meruit cannot arise if the parties have a contract to pay an agreed sum. Hmm well, that’s a matter of opinion!
  4. (Provide a floor plan with measurements and photos) Yes, of course, I’ll have my private architect get right on that for you!! Why was this not asked for at an earlier date?
  5. “It is also unclear whether all of the stains have been caused by the acid and if indeed, any of them can be professionally removed” – Stains?? Woah, Woah there, let’s get this clear here and now, they are NOT stains, they are burns caused by a corrosive substance! I have already explained in my in-depth correspondence to NHS.R, these BURNS are only where I park my chair for a period of time – At my desk, where I sit to watch tv, where I sit to eat my dinner, where my chair bumps up and down off my through-floor lift, where my chair sits overnight while being charged. I was told from two different professional companies it is impossible to repair wooden flooring as the colours will just not match, even if the same flooring is purchased. Therefore, the burns are unable to be “removed”!! I know a lot of people would claim for better flooring then entitled to. I’m only asking for a like for like replacement……NOT A PENNY MORE!!!! Another thing……Why am I being asked for this information NOW??? You obviously know your offer is laughable and already expect me to refuse this. So, are you now trying other tactics to get out of coughing up?
  6. “We would also advise that you are only be entitled to recover the cost of replacement (assuming none of the stains can be removed)”. – And that is EXACTLY what I have asked for!! The damaged sections can NOT be repaired, the whole damn floor needs to be replaced and that is what I was quoted for. Do you honestly think I want the upheaval and stress, let alone having to vacate my home overnight to have my floors replaced on a whim?
  7. “if the kitchen floor was only one year old, are you able to remember the supplier? If so, can you go back and obtain copy of the original invoice from them”? – Has anyone ever gone back to a supplier a year after purchasing an item and got a copy of their receipt?? Is that even possible?? Outside of business to business transactions.
  8. “Finally, please note that we are also unable to pay for undamaged areas if there are doors or physical barriers in between, so again a plan/more photos would be useful”. – Now, where did I put my architect’s number?
  9. “Notwithstanding the above, we are keen to see an early resolution to his matter now that liability is no longer an issue and are willing to offer you the sum of £1,500 in full and final settlement of your claim”. – Ummm, kinda proves they’re not expecting me to accept their offer, why else state they are keen to see an early resolution, yet ask me for all this new information, especially AFTER making me an offer??? Again, dodgy feeling in the pit of my stomach. Liability no longer a problem? Maybe I should cease these negotiations with these bunch of ******** and go straight to court!!!

I Will let you know what I decide.

Conclusion

(AJM’s contract with the W.S expired the end of February 2020……It was NOT renewed!! Supposedly, they lost a couple of their contracts around the same time. If true, then says all you need to know about how this company operates)!

I sat and thought long and hard as to what my options were. I decided to refuse their offer. NHS.R came back with another offer of £2,500. Good, £1000 increase but still £1,500 away from what I need, not want, to replace my damaged flooring. I replied stating I would be happy to accept £3,800 as this was the lower of the two quotes, supplied. I’m awaiting their response…..

So I got their response and I’m ecstatic to say they have once again upped their offer to £3,000. This is an offer I am willing to accept! Within this response though, I was told: “it seemed for a very long time that the Trust wouldn’t be contributing anything towards this claim and it was only recently that I managed to broker an agreement between them and AJM. Whilst quantum and liability can be investigated simultaneously, I was reluctant to do so initially when my instructions were to re-direct the claim in its entirety to AJM”. Wow, the Trust really believed they played no part in this fiasco??

It’s not the full amount needed to pay for replacing my floors, (the rest, I will have to find myself) but in all fairness, I knew I was never going to get the full amount. Who does in these type of cases. I was prepared to go to court if needed but obviously, didn’t relish the idea. I was told my case was not covered by any kind of consumer law and although I was told by a solicitor I had a good case of negligence, you can never know what a Judge would make of such a case!

Anyhow, I got the result I had hoped for, so hopefully, now I can put this matter to rest and start getting my health back to some form of normality and hopefully sooner rather than later, get my floors finally replaced.

I was also told: “Please allow up to 30 days for receipt as this is public money”. (Wanna bet they’ll make me wait the full 30 days??). Well, I’ve battled for 11 months, I suppose another 30 days in comparison is nothing!!

All legal avenues were closed to me. Either, my case wasn’t covered or not worth anyone’s time to advise me on my options. (My claim wasn’t for a big enough amount to warrant any solicitor help). Unfortunately, though, this leaves other wheelchair users who use NHS wheelchair services across the country, at risk of being treated the same. I’m disgusted at how I was treated and the fact that these companies can behave this way with no repercussions whatsoever.

The law stinks when the little guy/gal needs legal advice. I noticed that there will be a few legal firms at the Naidex show, (when it’s finally able to go ahead) hopefully one of them will point me in the right direction to make changes!! Then again, probably won’t be financially worth their while, no doubt!!

***Update*** 10/8/20

I finally received my compensation today. What a relief! I….have….now….ordered….my….new….floors….Yaayyy!!! Now for the big upheaval of moving furniture, I have no idea where I am going to store all of it. My whole downstairs flooring is to be replaced, where do you put half a house of furniture? I can’t put it in our bedroom as that flooring is being replaced also. I also have to put my dog with a dog sitter, I can’t have her go through all the stress of workmen in and out, banging, materials lying around etc.

This is the side these companies DON’T want to see or understand……I haven’t claimed for the sheer hell of it you know. I’m really not looking forward to the stress this is all going to cause me!

Sidenote: I’ve had to report another fault to the newly contracted repairers as my chair again, is not holding a charge and is running out of juice far too quickly and is slowing right down.

WILL THIS EVER END!!!!!!!

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Cartoon strip showing bullet points of claim
Cazbarr signature that flashes on off
Non-disabled person standing between two wheelchair users asking "what's wrong with you?"

When I’m Asked What’s Wrong With You?: Should I Take Offence?

When I’m Asked What’s Wrong With You?: Should I Take Offence? As a disabled person myself and a full-time wheelchair user, I am often asked by complete strangers, “what is wrong with you?”. Some people take great offence at this, yet these same people bang on about how ignorant ableds are! Can ableds win?

What’s Wrong With You?

I was on holiday last year and I experienced good and bad attitudes from non-disabled people.

When I'm Asked What's Wrong With You?: Should I Take Offence? - Front of cruise ship with blue interior lights

The good side (in my opinion): It was at the end of a wonderful ’80s themed night aboard a ship I was cruising on with my family (read my review). We were finishing our drinks after dancing the night away to all the popular 80’s music when the lady sat at the next table asked me “do you mind me asking what is wrong with you?”. I replied, “no, of course not”. I genuinely didn’t mind.

I went on to explain how I was born with my disability Arthrogryposis, how this affects my daily life and how my husband is my carer etc. etc. She seemed genuinely interested and even asked more questions when she didn’t understand something. She was amazed when I spoke of the barriers disabled people face on a daily basis by society/buildings etc. I explained this was why I loved cruising, as it was one of the more accessible holidays available to me. She couldn’t understand why access wasn’t better.

I spoke for quite a while, not realising how passionate I had become explaining why I do the things I do and how my disability affects my outlook on life. So I wrapped things up and said goodnight.

The bad side: (again on our cruise, we (my family) had a great but tiring day at port this particular day. I was making my way back to my cabin and while in the lift alone, this lady got on at another floor and immediately starting complaining to me how sore her feet were and how she had walked and walked and walked the whole day. How she couldn’t wait to take her shoes off and rest her poor feet. Now maybe it was because I was tired but all I wanted to shout at her was “at least you bloody well have legs that you can use to walk and walk and walk!”.

Should I Get Offended?

Should I get offended? I suppose this question can’t really be answered with a simple yes or no. It boils down to the individual’s perception of they deem to be offensive, the same way as asking “did you find that joke funny?”. Each person has their own idea of what is funny, the same way as each individual find some things offensive while others do not. Me personally, I’m not offended if someone genuinely wants to know. But that’s the key for me if the person asking is genuine!

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Offend: To irritate, annoy, or anger; – Cause resentful displeasure in: – To affect (the sense, taste, etc.) disagreeably. – To hurt or cause pain to.

I kinda get it when disabled people say how rude and personal this is but, in all fairness, you can decide how personal your answer will be…..Can you not? I can’t help but feel that some disabled people want their cake and eat it. Some go on and on about how ableds are so uneducated and ignorant towards disability, yet when they take the time to ask you about it, you go all offended and say how rude of them?

When I'm Asked What's Wrong With You?:  Should I Take Offence?  -  Red no entry sign over a blue shaped wheelchair user

I love someone wanting to take time out of their day, holiday, shopping or whatever to ask me about my disability. I hope that I am contributing to helping people better understand disability (well mine anyway), so they may pass this on or prevent discrimination in the future.

Of course, I think it’s fairly easy to know if someone is being false or malicious in their questioning and yes, I totally agree they should not be entertained!

Disability Assumptions

One of the things I do get offended by is the fact my husband wears an artificial left leg and normally the first thing strangers assume is that he has been in the forces and lost his leg. They seem to forget that he may have been born with a disability. I mean, there is no other way to have an artificial limb, is there!!

The other is that I have polio. When I used to walk with my calipers, 90% of people (especially minicab drivers) always assumed I had polio. (Not sure if this was anything to do with a common charity box outside a lot of shops back then that was a young boy wearing one calliper on his leg). I would then have to correct them and explain what Arthrogryposis was 🙂

To me, assumptions are more offensive than just asking me “what’s wrong with you”. I am always happy to take the time to talk to anyone wishing to be educated.

Conclusion

If you want to know about my disability, I will always do my best to explain it to you, provided you are genuinely interested. I understand how difficult and uncomfortable it might be for some, to talk to disabled people. People are only human at the end of the day and are scared of “different”.

I saw a video some time ago where a wheelchair user (male) sat in a very popular area (can’t remember where now), sat with a cardboard sign saying people could ask him anything about his disability. I have often thought of doing this myself. I am intrigued as to what people would ask me.

In my opinion, disabled people who complain and give out about how rude ableds are for wanting to know about their disability don’t have the right to complain and moan about the same ableds of being ignorant or uneducated!

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