In order to get my new wheelchair, I also had to get a new car. In the UK we have a benefit called Disability Living Allowance (well, for now, until the government rip it away.) It’s a brilliant concept, designed to help cover the many extra costs of being disabled. You can still work and claim it, as long as you meet the criteria. There are two elements to it – Care and Mobility. You can get one or the other, or both, and there a different rates within it.
If you’re awarded High Rate Mobility, you have three options. You can receive it in cash form, or you can swap it for a car, or a mobility aid (wheelchair or scooter.) If you pick the car option, you go through a charity called Motability, and in swapping the payment you get the car, insurance, breakdown cover, etc. Everything except petrol.
There are a range of cars on the scheme, starting from basic where you simply swap the payment, to larger or fancier cars – where you pay an upfront cost beforehand. One issue I have with this is many wheelchair users need a larger car to fit the wheelchair in, or the hoist. It’s not a choice to have a large car for any other reason. I personally, would be happiest with the smallest car possible (other than a Smart Car!) but I had to get a bigger one for practical reasons and that costs a much larger down-payment.
But it’s a great scheme and they also offer adaptations. Some are free, such as hand controls. Others you pay for. They also have a grants system for low-income people to apply for to help towards the cost of either the car itself, or adaptations.
This scheme alone is responsible for thousands of people with disabilities leading an active, independent life, and being able to access the workplace. Seriously, do you know how much adaptations cost?
So, my first Motabilty car was a Ford Focus. I really liked it, and I had a hoist, but when I needed to get a better wheelchair, I found nothing would fit in the car that met my needs.
After looking at seventeen different car dealerships, and trying out what felt like hundreds of cars – I arrived back at Ford. Their C-Max is based on the Focus, and isn’t much bigger – but it is taller and higher. This helped both the hoist, and getting in and out. I now have the car, and will use the pictures to explain more.