Driving with a Disability – How Cars can be Adapted to Help you
While our all-terrain mobility scooters are great for getting people out and about for shorter distances, being able to drive when you have a disability also makes a huge difference in your life. Having a disability does not mean you are unable to drive; in fact, staying on the road is an essential factor in maintaining independence. With this in mind, you may want to consider a specially adapted vehicle to suit your needs.
If you require a fun getaway and want to experience some new activities, treating yourself to an adventure break may be the ideal holiday for you. As providers of high-quality mobility scooters in North Devon, we know how important it is to have the accessibility to an adventure! Here at Essential Mobility, we have selected a variety of accessible sites across the country which are specifically aimed to offer activity holidays for those who have disabilities. If you would like some handy tips on travel, take a look at our blog on Travel Advice for the Disabled.
The Calvert Trust
The Calvert Trust is an exceptional charity who specialise in providing accessible, adventure holidays for everyone to enjoy. There are three centres in total, and these are situated across England in Exmoor, Kielder and the Lake District. The accessible sites each offer a range of activities specialised to each centre and include experiences such as abseiling, kayaking, cycling and horse riding. Here at Essential Mobility, we are proud to know that Calvert Trust Exmoor is located not far from our Barnstaple store. Located close to the stunning North Devon coastline, a more recent addition to the list of activities, Calvert Trust Exmoor now provides one to one surfing lessons which make for an exciting adventure break!
This award-winning charity offers exciting activity breaks for those who would like to experience life on a canal. They host adapted canal boats which can be used by those who have disabilities or special needs. The canal breaks can be enjoyed as a full day out or as a weekend getaway. Situated in Essex, the charity offers journeys through the beautiful countryside belonging to Essex and Hertfordshire along the River Stort and Lee. Adventure trips allow you to steer the canal boat and you can try your hand at managing the locks. Longer breaks will enable you to experience the city of London through the Grand Union Canal. Fully equipped to meet requirements necessary for passengers, the boats are fully centrally heated to deliver fantastic adventures all year round.
East Soar Outdoor Experience
This accessible site can be found in South Devon, nestled amongst a charming National Trust farm, close to the well sought after coastal town of Salcombe. It is home to a variety of activities which offer the opportunity to team build. Whether you would like to make the most of the stunning nearby beaches, have a go at bushcraft, test yourself with problem-solving challenges or cook up a feast with outdoor cooking, there are plenty of options to choose. It is mainly aimed to provide outdoor activities for children with educational needs but can also be accessed by mainstream groups. The accessible site stretches across seven and a half acres of glorious countryside and farmland.
The Nancy Oldfield Trust
Their motto is ‘making adventure possible’, with a stunning site located in the idyllic village of Neatishead on Barton Broad, at The Nancy Oldfield Trust, you will want to indulge in the all the water activities offered here. The site specialises in water based activities including sailing, canoeing and motorboat trips. The motorboat trips soar across the Barton Broad, offering a sense of tranquillity amongst the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the area. Available for holidays over a week or a couple of days, this accessible site is suitable for all ages and abilities.
Located in the West Midlands, Woodlands Adventure is geared to bringing groups of people together through fun and life-enhancing activities. Whether you belong to a university social group, want to organise a school trip or require a bonding experience for work purposes, this adventure break is the perfect place to make memories and try new experiences. On hand to ensure any necessary requirements are met, Woodlands Adventure is equipped with hoist and slide boards to ensure all guests can have a go at a desired activity and staff are fully trained to support all guests. Popular experiences at this accessible site include paddle sports, a climbing wall and abseiling.
Have you experienced a memorable holiday in the UK? Do you have any suggestions for accessible sites in the UK? We would love to hear about them! Share your experiences with us via our social media channels- we look forward to hearing from you.
6 Cleaning Tips For Your Mobility Scooter
Mobility scooters can collect dust and dirt, so it is essential to try and keep them clean. Having a clean scooter not only makes it more pleasant to use, but it can also help with the ease of movement. Some stubborn substances can restrict the ability to use the scooter; for example, buttons can get stuck.
If your ability to walk reasonable distances is deteriorating, you might be considering a mobility scooter. Using this aid can help you get your life back. You regain some independence, meaning you can participate in activities that you may not have previously been able to. However, going from no assistance to using a mobility scooter can be daunting. So, to help with this period of change, we have put together some top tips on how to adapt to life with a mobility scooter.
Ensure Your Home Is Ready for The New Addition
You may or may not require your mobility scooter when in the comfort of your own home. If you only have limited ability to move while you are at home, this could be an excellent chance to walk short distances, to ensure you keep physically active. However, if you do require support at all times, you need to make sure that your home is suitable for your mobility scooter. Some homes are built with wider doorways and entrances, but if your house wasn’t, you will likely need to get them extended. With this extra space, you will be able to move more freely around the property, without having to worry about hitting or knocking anything over. Furthermore, if your property is slightly raised, you will require a ramp so that you can access your home with ease.
Independence is key! So, when it comes to the bathroom, you want to ensure that you have all the assistance you need. Having the correct facilities will allow you to gain that freedom once again and need no one but yourself. Sturdy grab bars are essential in the bathroom. These can help you move from your scooter and around the room with ease. Slipmats are especially important in the bathroom to avoid any accidents because the floor can, at times, get wet and therefore create a hazard. Additional adjustments would include increasing the height of the toilet and also removing the vanity from underneath the sink. These changes will allow you to use the bathroom more freely.
The same suggestions apply for both the kitchen and bedroom. First and foremost, make sure that the items you want regular access to are stored in the lower cupboards and drawers. It is also useful to remove cupboard doors to avoid any restricted access. Although rugs and mats look nice, they can obstruct movement when using a mobility scooter; it is best to remove these to ensure you can move around effortlessly. For further information on how to adapt your home, check out our blog on mobility aids to consider for your home.
Keep Yourself Active
When you are limited with movement, it can be tough to remain active. However, don’t think that because you are restricted to a chair that you can’t do some physical activity! It is essential to try and do a little bit of exercise every day to keep yourself moving. Doing this will help avoid any aches or pains. Staying in one position every day can leave your body feeling still, especially your neck, as you are sat continuously upright. A way to avoid this is to do some chin to neck exercise; a simple movement that can relieve any tension in the neck. Your shoulders too can get uncomfortable from lack of mobility so to loosen them up, do some shoulder rolls. You want to sit upright in your chair, raise your shoulders and slowly roll them in a backwards motion; the goal is to perform a circle. To focus on loosening the lower body, raise one leg at a time and perform small circular motions with your foot. A few circles with each foot can help with any tension in your lower legs. Complete these exercises daily, and you should feel less discomfort. Therefore, enjoying using your scooter more!
You Don’t Need to Worry
Gauging the width and speed of your scooter can be daunting, so here are some tips on how to stay safe. Firstly, ensure the battery is always fully charged; this is to avoid any cut outs while out in public. Secondly, practice makes perfect, so do a few laps around your local area to get used to the sensitivity of the scooter and also the width of it. Learning the size of the scooter can be one of the toughest challenges, so it’s great to get some practice in! To make travelling easier, consider purchasing a high-quality mobility scooter; they can move on multiple terrains effortlessly and are more comfortable.
Here at Essential Mobility, we have a wide variety of mobility scooters that you can either hire or buy. Start your journey to independence and freedom by checking out our range today to find your perfect match!
What benefits should you be receiving?
With many government benefits it can often be a bit difficult to navigate the all the information available to find the information that relates to you; this can often mean you are missing out on benefits that can really help you. Whether you are just off sick from work or are in need of all terrain mobility scooters and unable to work, here’s a simple and easy to digest information to the benefits you are entitled to.
If you are between the ages of 16-64 and have been dealing with a long-term health condition ability that is affecting you, you should be able to claim a benefit called the Personal Independence Payment.
For those under 16, with a health condition or disability that has resulted in the need for more care and supervision than those of your peers, there are benefits called Disability Living Allowance. Alternatively, on the other end of the scale, if you are aged 65 or over with care needs, there are benefits called Attendance Allowance which would be suitable for your needs. Whilst carers should look into claiming for Carer’s Allowance to help maintain a comfortable financial state while they care for someone who is severely sick or disabled.
Disability Living Allowances and Personal Independence Payments cannot be claimed at the same time.
For those that are employed and have had to take a substantial amount of time from work because of an illness or disability you can look into claiming Statutory Sick Pay or Employment and Support Allowance which can help you financially while you are off work. Workers who are financially struggling may also be entitled to Working Tax Credit, so be sure to see whether you are entitled to this.
Disabilities and illnesses that were caused either through serving in the armed forces or an injury or disease caused directly from work will also be entitled to benefits to help ease financial burdens.
If you have looked and claimed for all benefits and are not eligible you may be able to receive national insurance credits because you are unable to work or because you are caring for someone who is sick or disabled.
Benefits are usually paid directly into your bank account, building society or Post Office card account. If you do not have an account, benefits will be paid onto a Simple Payment card that will be issued to you. You can then collect this money from any pay points that display a simple payment sign.
Benefits for disabled individuals doesn’t just mean extra financial support, if you are disabled you can also look into getting cheaper public transport, disabled badges for the car and practical help from the local council in terms of care.
Citizens Advice Bureau is a great organisation to speak to as they will be able to help find resources that will make life easier. They have experienced advisers who will provide free and personalised advice.
Other places you can contact include the disability benefit helplines who will be able to give you more information on the benefits and whether you would be eligible for these benefits. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have a helpline dedicated to the Disability Living Allowance. Whilst on the phone they will be able to help you fill out the claim forms. There are two different phone numbers dependant on your age.
If your birthday falls on or before the 8th April 1948 phone: 0345 605 6055
If your birthday is after this date phone: 0345 712 3456
Helplines are open during the working week, 8am – 6pm.
Be sure that you are getting accurate advice on your payments as you may have to pay a civil penalty, if you have filled in the information wrong or have not provided all the information they need, and this has resulted in an over-payment. Be sure to give accurate information as best to your knowledge as providing incorrect or misleading information, as well as failing to report a change in circumstances, may lead to you being investigated for fraud. If you are unsure about any of the information on the benefit forms make sure you consult an adviser, whether that is at your local Citizens Advice Bureau or through a disability allowance helpline.
Everything you need to know about employment if you’re disabled
Under the Equality Act 2010 it is unlawful for any employer to discriminate against disabled individuals. Employers cannot discriminate against an individual because of a disability, they must also make adequate adjustments to prevent disabled individuals being placed at a disadvantage. Look out for the disability symbol when looking at job advertisements and application forms, this is the disability symbol, with two ticks and the phrase ‘positive about disabled people’. This is awarded by the Jobcentre Plus, and recognises organisations that have made positive contributions toward the employment of disabled people.
As today’s world advances, with computers and high-speed internet connections, there is a multitude of career options for individuals who need and desire flexibility within their employment. That is why working from home can be a preferred option for people with disabilities, who need the flexibility that some places of work may not currently be offering. Whilst this is something that every employer should be addressing, at the moment the limitations faced by disabled individuals can cause some unjust complications for people seeking employment.
This should, however, not limit what job roles and career paths you want to pursue. Many people face obstacles when it comes to occupational goals, but it is important to remain positive and persistent whilst taking up every opportunity to learn new skills, receive support and progress.
If you’re seeking a flexible job, that allows you to take more control of your work schedule and saves you from commuting, there are many jobs that allow you to work from the comfort of your home. ‘Telecommuting’ is the process of working remotely, this is an arrangement with your employer that you do not have to commute to a central place of work in order to complete your role within the business. There are many names for this type of employee, such as ‘telecommuter’, ‘teleworker’ or sometimes referred to as ‘home-sourced’ or ‘work-at-home’ employee. These type of workers are able to work from home or can use mobile means to work from coffee shops or other more preferred locations. A work at home arrangement can differ from a teleworking arrangement in the fact it does require the employee to stay connected to a communication source during business hours.
Working from home will require you to have certain skill-sets that include computer literacy, good communication skills and the ability to self-discipline yourself to work regularly, avoiding the distractions around the home. Computer literacy can easily be learnt if it is needed for a new career, with computer lessons readily available and tutorials easily accessible, whilst the other skills will need patience.
If you like the idea of taking more control of your work and schedule, why not look into making your own business? If you have a great idea for a new business, self-employment may be a great option to pursue. Becoming self-employed can give you the freedom of control whilst allowing you to find the optimum times you work best. You can also adjust your work environment to how you like and need it without having to consult anyone else. There are also a number of organisations and means to help you set up your new business including The Association of Disabled Professionals which are providing networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, whilst sharing good practises and advice on setting up a business for self-employed disabled individuals.
If running your own business sounds a bit daunting, there are many businesses that look for freelance employees, including content marketing businesses, who look for freelance writers. This can be a great way to provide some income, whilst working at home, if you are a talented writer and enjoy learning and writing about a variety of content. If you have great communication, and want to be able to talk to people throughout the day, you can work for a call centre dealing with customer service calls.
If you want to get out of the house and need some extra income you can sign up to be a mystery shopper. The amount you will be paid for this will vary on who gives you the work, so be sure to check before you sign up to do it. You will be asked to fill out a survey and given certain questions to ask the staff, with a rate score to indicate their performance. If you enjoy doing this you can also sign up to doing surveys, both online or in person, as brands continually look for opinions from focus groups for their products.
If you are unsure about the type of work you would like to do, it’s always best to seek the advice of career advisers who will determine your skill-sets and guide you in the right direction.
There are also a number of disability groups that can offer you support while you seek employment- these include:
-Action on Hearing Loss (formerly RNID)
-Blind in Business (BIB)
– Disability Now
-Papworth Employment Programmes
-Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
Seeking employment shouldn’t be a battle, regardless of your disability. Make sure you know your rights and if you need more advice and support seek personalised support from an advisor who can equip you with all the skills and knowledge you need.
Image credit: neetalparekh, Available under Creative Commons.
Disability Living Allowance process set for big changes
If you are currently suffering with a physical disability, and use high spec mobility scooters, you are probably aware or have been through the process to claim for Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
But did you know that the benefit appeal process could have a radical makeover in terms of how decisions are made in terms of who receives benefits? Instead of ‘in person’ hearings benefit appeals could shift towards judges basing their verdicts on a series of written evidence, calls and/or video conferences; these changes are open to consultation until the end of October and are part of an effort to digitise the justice system.
At the moment individuals who claim benefits have to appeal benefit decisions via paper submissions or by attending a tribunal. The new methods are hoped to be more convenient for people. The Ministry of Justice stated that non-physical appeals will only be used if it is suitable and appropriate, and for those that are not so tech-savvy, will be given the right support to assist them with the new digital system, with paper channels accessible for those who are not able to get online.
However, there is an increasing fear from disability advocates that this shift could have negative consequences, such as less appeals being upheld.
“We get 90% success when the appeal’s in person. On paper, even with us involved, it’s barely 50% success,” according to the founder and lawyer at Fightback 4 Justice, Michelle Cardno. “So it would be detrimental for claimants,” she added. Fightback 4 Justice is a not-for-profit organisation that offers people appeal advice and advocacy.
The results from research conducted by the University College London Judicial Institute and the Nuffield Foundation in 2013 found that claimants are nearly three times as likely to win their appeal for disability living allowance (DLA) after they have an oral hearing than paper on its own (with 46% in comparison to 17%). This demonstrates that without the disabled individual sitting in front of the judges that the panel cannot see for themselves how bad the condition is. This point was highlighted by Cardno, “If the claimant is there to put it across in person, no matter how tough it is for them, that’s so much better.”
Co-founder of Benefits and Work, the non-for-profit benefits advice resource, Steve Donnison explains: “Appeal panels have to make a decision about the honesty and credibility of an appellant. It’s far easier for them to make this judgement if the claimant is in front of them answering their questions.”
Without seeing claimants in person there is a risk factor that all the evidence needed to make the decision is not available to the panel, who would usually ask for gaps, because claimants are not aware of the criteria for being eligible for benefits. “And when the appeal is by paper, the tribunal has no way of filling in the gaps in the evidence so they can’t make an award,” added Donnison.
There is also criticism of the paperwork that is provided to the tribunal, which has been seen as very poor. “There’s nothing on the form for disability appeals that tells people they should include evidence of their medical history,” Cheryl Thomas, professor of judicial studies at ULC pointed out.
There is also another significant change the government are considering that could see the success rate for appeals decrease. The government are considering changing the structure of the panels themselves, by removing a panel member who has experience of disability through disability appeals for DLA. The current appeals are currently heard by a judge, medical member and someone who has a disability or someone who is a carer.
Cardno strongly believes this cut could be detrimental to the success rates for disabled individuals winning their appeals, “I’ve seen that panel member steer the judge so many times, a simple thing like, if it’s said the claimant’s able to go shopping, the judge may make assumptions for a simple ‘yes, I can go to a supermarket’ and not explore further. But a panel member who is disabled themselves is more likely to explore a little more [to] establish if a person is able to do something such as shopping for the majority of the time instead of as a one-off, or odd times. They have more understanding that people push themselves through pain to try and do ‘normal’ everyday things.”
There have been several cuts to local welfare advice services that mean a lot of disabled individuals are struggling to fight benefit appeals alone, in the face of mental health problems, physical or learning disabilities.
It is unsure whether these changes will adversely affect the claimants of DLA – however an MOJ spokesperson stated: “We have a world-leading legal system and are investing over £700m to reform and digitise our courts and tribunal services to deliver swifter and more certain justice. We are consulting on proposals to make tribunals more flexible, so they can be composed according to the needs of the individuals involved, while still allowing members with specialist knowledge to take part in cases where necessary.”
What happens to your DNA in the aging process?
DNA is a fascinating element of the human body. DNA simply put is the structure of chemicals that carry specific genetic information that determine who you are, inside and out. Genes are inherited from your parents and determine such characteristics like hair and eye colour. Inherited genes can cause disabilities like muscular dystrophy, which may cause you to need high spec mobility scooters.
When you are younger the DNA is regulated so that it expresses the right genes at a specific time. As you age the regulation of DNA begins to be interrupted which factors into the aging process. However this interruption is not true for everyone, according to a new study, with some people displaying youthful DNA structures despite their age.
The study was led by Dr Bas Heijmans from the Leiden University, in the Netherlands, and was conducted by 34 scientists from six collaborating institutes. It compiled data from over 3,000 participants and found these fascinating results. Researchers charted the regulation of DNA of the participants by measuring levels of methylation at around half a million sites of human DNA, searching for the sites where apparent increases in regulation could be seen as people aged.
Dr Heijmans is an epigeneticist from the Molecular Epidemiology Section of the University. Commenting on the study Heijmans said : “We believe we may have caught the aging process in the act: the dysregulation of the DNA that we discovered went hand in hand with higher activity in genes that continuously try to repair damage to cells. This process is not fully effective and in the long run leads to aging.”
What is interesting is that not everyone in the study showed an equal level of age-related dysregulation of DNA. Some of the participants appeared to have regulation that matched that of a healthy 25-year-old. These participants showed genes that were less active in the aging process.
The next steps forward from this study are to see whether people who display ‘youthful DNA’ structures stay healthier for longer and whether these genes are preventative in the onset of specific life-threatening diseases.
“Obviously, health depends on more than just the regulation of our DNA. But we do think that the dysregulation of the DNA is a fundamental process that could push the risk of different diseases in the wrong direction,” according to Heijmans.
Roderick C. Slieker, Maarten van Iterson, René Luijk, Marian Beekman, Daria V. Zhernakova, Matthijs H. Moed, Hailiang Mei, Michiel van Galen, Patrick Deelen, Marc Jan Bonder, Alexandra Zhernakova, André G. Uitterlinden, Ettje F. Tigchelaar, Coen D. A. Stehouwer, Casper G. Schalkwijk, Carla J. H. van der Kallen, Albert Hofman, Diana van Heemst, Eco J. de Geus, Jenny van Dongen, Joris Deelen, Leonard H. van den Berg, Joyce van Meurs, Rick Jansen, Peter A. C. ‘t Hoen, Lude Franke, Cisca Wijmenga, Jan H. Veldink, Morris A. Swertz, Marleen M. J. van Greevenbroek, Cornelia M. van Duijn, Dorret I. Boomsma, P. Eline Slagboom, Bastiaan T. Heijmans. Age-related accrual of methylomic variability is linked to fundamental ageing mechanisms. Genome Biology, 2016