All first year Physiotherapy students at the University of Birmingham have been undertaking a wheelchair expedition as part of their patient-centred practice module this term. Here’s how two of those students got on
From 52 Pritchatts Road, University of Birmingham to Aldi on the Bristol Road, Birmingham.
From Pritchatts Roas to Victoria Hall
- In Pritchatts road we used the internal lift to get from the fourth floor to the ground floor – buttons were quite high to reach from the chair, and the alarm button was out of reach. (If I had fallen out of my chair, then I would not be able to get back up to call for help!).
- Bought lunch from the café downstairs in Pritchartts road- the staff moved around the table in order to take my sandwich and to pay which was very helpful.
- Crossed the road – we used the crossing and had to ensure the green man was on. We realised we couldn’t just cross anywhere along the road as the gaps in the traffic weren’t large enough for us to cross. It was also difficult to see around the corners of cars or above parked cars from the chair to see if it was safe to cross the road.
- Muirhead lift- We used the lift and came out on the car park and had to negotiate ourselves around a VERY big lorry.
- Stayed on main footpath through the centre of campus. There was some steep hills that required assistance in steering as they were “Attendant propelled” because it was so steep. (kept steering onto the road).
- Tree roots and uneven surfaces lead to a rocky ride and made it difficult to get over and negotiate around, making the chair very unstable. We therefore often had to go the long way around.
- Disabled ramps that we used were often situated further away from normal pavements, so we had to take a longer route.
In general, people looked away/down from the wheelchair and the assistant -often looked more towards the person pushing than individual in chair.
Victoria Hall, halls of residence
- Lift within the accommodation had lower buttons , this made it easier to use for the individual in the chair.
- Difficult to press the green exit button to get out in time before the door re-locked.
- Builder working on pavement offered to move the temporary barriers to allow enough pavement for the wheelchair to go through as the pavement was too narrow for the wheelchair to go through.
- Couldn’t cut across the road at the short cuts as it took too long to get on and off the kerbs against the oncoming traffic. Also the gaps weren’t large enough in the traffic to cross, as we couldn’t just run across the road with the wheelchair; it therefore took more thought when crossing the road.
- Van blocked the drop kerb so we had to negotiate around it and lever the wheelchair down a steep kerb. This was dangerous as the wheelchair was very unstable and the individual could have easily fallen out. It also blocked the way for other pedestrians.
- The isles were narrow so the wheelchair often caused problems for people pushing trolleys behind as the isle was often blocked.
- Left a large box/container box in the isle so it was restricted to move making the isle blocking problem even bigger. It also made it harder for the individual in the wheelchair to reach products on the shelves as they couldn’t reach the shelf as the chair was stopped to far away for them to lean over and reach.
- Difficult to see the prices on the top shelf and reach the top shelf as you are so low down. This meant the assistant often had to pick up the shopping for the individual in the wheelchair.
- Cashier was very helpful and packed the shopping bags for us which made it a lot easier.