Life Isn’t All Sweetness and Light – There are Many Struggles to Face

Written by on October 27, 2012 in Career - No comments | Print this page

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In this world you take things for granted, we all do. I am guilty of it.  I wasn’t aware really of how spoilt I was until my mother’s health deteriorated. Even then as I lived many miles away it didn’t hit me until I went to stay with her after she was allowed out of hospital. The struggle of everyday life then became apparent.

My mother had her mobility reduced after suffering a stroke. We needed to bring her home up to scratch in order for her to remain independent and this was a long and drawn out process. It took many weeks to arrange the care she needed and have the necessary equipment installed including some safety rails, an emergency system and a more suitable bed. All this time my mother was trying to build her strength back up and get used to her chair.

Getting Used to a New Way of Life

It was quite a traumatic time for my mum and for the rest for the family too. I spent several weeks getting everything sorted out for her. I think one of the hardest things to come to terms with was just how difficult it was outside the house. It is quite shocking how hard it can be to manoeuvre a chair over old pavements full with cracks and pot holes.  One time my mum fell out of the chair when I was pushing her to the shop and that really upset her.

Then there are the shops too. Hardly any of the ones that are local to my mums house were suitable for wheelchair users. We would find some were impossible to even enter because of the narrow doorways or very heavy doors that I couldn’t pull open. If we were struggling between the two of us, I was very concerned about how she would cope on her own.  My mum is stubborn you see, she wanted to still be able to get around on her own and do all the things she used to. It was clear that she would be capable of this lifestyle if the right types of access were made available to her. However often they weren’t and this was very frustrating. After all, why shouldn’t she go to the shop to buy a paper on a Sunday anyway? She was in a wheelchair, that’s all.

Lack of Care in the Community

I spoke to a couple of the shop owners about improving the access but they didn’t seem concerned to be honest. That worried me greatly and I decided to go to the paper and try and find some support to encourage shop owners to make some changes for the good of the community. Thankfully my efforts didn’t fall on completely deaf ears and with some support from local disability groups and some very friendly business owners some changes were made. It’s just a shame that not everyone was willing to get involved.

The newsagents down the road were the most understanding. They were planning to make some improvements to their shop layout anyway and with our input they decided to improve the access.  They received some expert advice on the type of entrances that were suitable and they also made the aisles slightly bigger. This took several months but I believe they have never regretted their action.

Over time my mum has mastered her chair and she is getting to grips with being out and about, meeting up with friends and making the most of her life.  There are still a lot of issues to overcome as finding suitable transport into town can be tricky and many of the larger shops in the town centre are still sadly very unfriendly for wheelchairs and people with mobility problems. However she has found a few great places where she can go without any issues: some clothing shops, a supermarket and a café, where she is able to receive excellent customer service and enjoy the ease of the shopping and eating experience. It’s just a shame that not all businesses recognise that a large proportion of people can’t just get up and squeeze through doorways or hop up steps.

This is a guest post.   Disability access is an area that needs working on for all businesses looking to serve their community.

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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