Disabled people aren’t allowed to be parents, btw; in which I discuss Patient Transport, accessible vehicles, and the lack of child seats in ambulances.

Grrr! I’m afraid this is another problem with the infamous patient transport service..

Now, here’s the thing, I had forgotten I had physio on that day, and I was in charge of my daughter (she’s four). The guys from the ambulance arrived, and announced they’d come to get me for physio. I had been lying on the sofa waiting for the most recent painkillers to kick in- daughter was upstairs using the bathroom. I shouted upstairs to let my daughter know we were going to the hospital for an appointment for Mummy- “Come down here and get your shoes on.”

The ambulance guys looked uncomfortable.

“Are you planning on taking the girl with us?”

I replied, “Yes, she’s my daughter and I’m looking after her today.”

They told me that they wouldn’t be able to take her in the ambulance- they didn’t have a car seat.

“That’s okay, I’ve got one in my car- you can borrow it for the day- it’s in my car and you can fit it in your car seat. I don’t mind if you unload it at the hospital or if you want to keep it in the ambulance.”

“Sorry, we can’t fit your car seat into the ambulance. Health and Safety. We only use our own, but I’m afraid we don’t have any child car seats that fit in the ambulance.”

“Can you take her in a normal seat? I know that taxis can take a child a short distance without a car seat?”

“No, sorry. Health and Safety.”

“Well, I understand that, it’s safer for kids in car seats isn’t it… So what if you’re a parent with a disability? How do you get to the hospital on patient transport with a child?”

“Well, you can’t take them in the ambulance. There’s not really a patient transport thats suitable, to be honest, if you’re in a wheelchair and need an ambulance for transport.”

“Okay, so I have to get to physio, and I have to take my daughter with me. How far can you take me?”

“We can take you to the bottom of the hill…. but you can’t come in the ambulance with your daughter.”

“Okay…”

So, my daughter put her shoes on, and chose her toy to take. The ambulance guys got the wheelchair from the front room, and into the street. I crutched myself down the steps and across the yard, and into the chair. Ambulance guys wheeled me down the hill… and there we said our goodbyes!

The ambulance guys went to their ambulance, I called my local taxi firm. Then, my daughter and I waited at the side of the road. She was very good, and held my hand. I felt anxious and vulnerable to be sitting at the side of the road in a wheelchair, knowing that there was no way to self-propel home. Luckily, part of being a parent is putting on the confident face so that kids know that it’s okay…Mum knows what’s going on.

The taxi arrived shortly after, and the driver helped my daughter into the back seat of the taxi. I crutched myself into the front seat, and they put the chair into the boot. Then the taxi drove me to the hospital.

No harm done, really. I was able to arrange an accessible taxi for the journey home, so didn’t have to use the transport service. I spoke to the transport coordinator, who in contrast to the one I’d spoken to last week was delightful and very apologetic about the situation. it wasn’t their fault- they had no provision to transport parents in wheelchairs with children.

It just seems such a massive assumption to make- that if you’re in a wheelchair, then you can’t possibly have children- or if you do, you can’t be expected to have responsibility to look after them…. what are parents in wheelchairs expected to do? I’m left perplexed that there is no system set up for delivering parents to hospitals with children. I guess it’s just one of the many assumptions my non-wheelchair using self had unconsciously made- that because I often take my child to appointments, that it was something that wouldn’t be much different when using the chair.

Another rethink required then…..

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9 Comments

  1. Katie Brown (@dysconnection)

     /  July 1, 2010

    this blows my mind Claire –

    Reply
  2. But… but… that would mean that a disabled person had… y’know…. ess-eee-ex with someone!
    WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
    etc.

    Reply
  3. They don’t allow any extras usually, even big children like me, so I just have to wave the mum off when she goes and hope that she is returned in one piece.

    Usually the tagline ‘We are not a taxi service’ is flung about.

    Reply
    • I kind of get that, but children of four can’t either find their way independently, nor can they be left at home, so not sure how I could get round this…

      Reply
  4. Sarah Bodell

     /  July 1, 2010

    I am astounded, and in awe of your patient, can do attitude in the face of idiotic systems and excrutiating pain 😦

    Reply
    • *blushes* it’s all a front, you know- I just try to sob out of sight of my daughter…thanks for reading the blog

      Reply
  5. OMG – what is all this about??? Sorry I’ve just caught up with your blog… I’m just gobsmacked with your experiences and think surely we would be better equipped in NZ… but the other 1/2 of me things hmmm possibly this could be exactly the experience of wheelchair users in my country too – it’s all about assumptions…

    Reply
  1. Patient Transport- again. « OT on wheels

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