As a wheelchair user, navigating both in and outside the home can be tricky. Whether it’s getting over high door saddles, reaching for counter space, getting the bus, or going to the park. There are a number of challenges faced every day in order to live the normal day-to-day. This is why we reached out to Charlotte, a wheelchair user living with chronic pain and a neuro condition.
Charlotte shares more about her life as a wheelchair user and how assistive technology such as daily living aids has helped make her life easier, feel more confident and independent.
Charlotte is a 25-year-old student (studying counseling) who lives in the countryside with her family. She is living with a complex neuro condition, which means she needs a wheelchair to get around. Her condition affects how her body works but it appears to be localised to her hand and legs mainly.
A typical day for Charlotte can really depend on how she is feeling. On a good day, Charlotte says it’s just like any other person ”I get up, washed, dressed, have breakfast, and go about my day. Living on a farm means no day is the same. Often there are some escaped horses or sheep running around the place which is always entertaining to watch. Some of my favourite things to do when I’m well is to go to wheelchair dance classes, bowling, to the beach or even to see the latest Marvel movie. I love all things Marvel!”
On those days where she isn’t feeling the best, Charlotte is generally confined to her bed and unable to do a number of things for herself. ”Like a lot of people living with a neuro condition, my health fluctuates a lot. I go from one extreme of seeming so healthy and well, where people don’t realise I am sick. To being so unwell that I can’t even communicate or move.
On these days, I’m hoisted in my wheelchair and without the Marvel movies giving me some idea of how much time has passed, I tend to quickly lose track of time.”
Day-to-Day Challenges Faced As A Wheelchair User:
As a wheelchair user, Charlotte’s main challenges are around the lack of access and the right equipment. The main challenges she faces are very similar to all wheelchair users:
- Many places are not accessible
- Doorways are not wide enough
- There are no lifts or ramps available when shopping or going out
- A number of disabled toilets are being used as cleaning supply storage
”I have problems accessing the outside, I can’t go for a walk like everyone else, especially since I live on a farm. For me this means that there are so many days a month I’m not able to get out my front door because of rough terrain. Having the right equipment would make a huge difference but unfortunately, wheelchairs are very expensive and equipment to help me get out and about is too expensive.”
Accessibility At Home:
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home but what happens when you can’t access it?
”Navigating the kitchen as a wheelchair user can be difficult. Sadly, most kitchens are not designed for wheelchairs users like me. The cupboards stop me from being able to roll right under the surface and they are often too high to access. I’ve had to adapt and learned other ways to use the kitchen. I do this my keeping everything I would need in the same area of the kitchen.”
As Charlotte is living with a movement disorder, moving about the kitchen can be hard. ”I have poor coordination and tend to knock things over a lot. I have a lot of muscle wasting in my arms and I regularly drop things.”
It is because of that, that she now has a number of smart devices throughout the home. This means that using products from the assistive technology sector can help Charlotte turn on/off lights, wash and use the bathroom with her phone or voice, without issues. All of her smart devices are activated by sensors and controlled by apps. Thus ultimately making life safer and easier at home.
”I also use the Echo dot, especially in the kitchen. This allows me to set reminders and alarms which help me to keep on track and reminds me of how long I have left on timers when cooking.”
Assistive Technology In The Kitchen:
We Irish love our tea so the kettle can really be seen as the star of the kitchen. Unfortunately, when it comes to the average kettle, there is a lot of heavy lifting which can be difficult for wheelchair users. ”There is a big risk of me dropping or spilling things as I’m not able to simply step out of the way which means anything I drop is likely to fall onto my lap. I’ve burnt myself many times from spilling things straight onto my lap.”
With Charlotte’s condition and muscle wasting in her arms she had given up on making herself a cuppa. ”After dropping the kettle over my lap a few year ago and scalding myself badly, I realised using a kettle was not going to be possible for me. Since then I’ve had no choice but to have someone else boil kettles and use them for me. This could be for tea, hot chocolate or even filling a hot water bottle.”
It’s Time for the Uccello Kettle:
Uccello Designs followed Charlotte and her story via her Instagram account. From her posts, we knew that our daily living aids such as our Uccello Kettle and Muggi Cup Holder could help.
The Uccello Kettle is ideal for those with limited mobility and strength. With it’s unique tilt-to-pour action, you can pour hot water safely and steadily into your cup. ”The Uccello Kettle has made life so much easier when using boiling water. I can now easily make my own hot drinks as I know there are next to zero chance of me spilling water anywhere and the danger for me is therefore removed giving me much more independence.”
From what we have seen, a lot of daily living aids or indeed some assistive technology isn’t always designed with style in mind. It is because of this that many shy away from purchasing as there is still a stigma around such aids.
”I’ve found a new love in the kitchen and I’ve started trying new meals that can be used with my kettle. It’s also age appropriate. It’s something a lot of medical aids aren’t very good at being. The Uccello Kettle looks stylish on my kitchen bench. Often other family members and friends want to have a go at trying it when they come around. It’s made me feel safe, confident and independent.”
Don’t Forget the Muggi Cup Holder:
Our Muggi is a unique way of carrying your tea, biscuits, phone etc. safely and easily. With wheelchair users in mind, there are 4 non-slip rubber feet which prevent it from moving or slipping on wet or dry surfaces. The Muggi can safely sit on your lap, giving you two hands free to maneuver your wheelchair.
”The Muggi is excellent. Carrying anything like drinks has always been difficult for me as it’s easy for me to drop them. Also, because I’m rolling and regularly hit bumps or doorways, I would often spill things and the Muggi has essentially removed this issue.
Since I received my Muggi, I’ve used it for all sorts of things, not just to carry cups. I frequently use it to carry my makeup and medications without dropping them everywhere.”
Want to learn more about assistive technology and how Uccello Product can help make your life easier? Click Here Now