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Choosing between a wheelchair ramp, lift or hoist for your car

If you’ve ever struggled to find a proper wheelchair solution for your car – and they can be hard to find – then you might be surprised to learn just how many options you have once you find the right supplier.

Something as simple as getting in and out of the car is an essential consideration when it comes to buying a car for yourself as a wheelchair user, or for a loved one.

In this blog, we’ll run through some questions you’ll need to consider, and the pros and cons of various options for vehicle access and stowage.

Stowing or transferring a wheelchair

This is the main question to ask. Are you looking for a solution that lets you store your wheelchair while you drive, store someone else’s wheelchair while they sit in a passenger seat, or allow a wheelchair user to enter the vehicle without leaving their chair?

With a ramp

This will determine the solution you need – ramps are the most common solution for transferring a wheelchair user into a vehicle while still in their chair as lifts on personal vehicles don’t tend to be designed to handle the weight of both accessibility equipment and a person.

With a hoist

Car wheelchair hoists, too, are generally designed for transferring equipment, not people. But if you’re wanting a device that makes it easy to store a wheelchair, whether folded up or fully assembled, they’re often the most cost-effective option as the installation is less “invasive” than a lift.

With a lift

A lift, on the other hand, may be able to handle bulkier equipment, such as heavier mobility scooters, without the need to fold or disassemble anything. Lifts also generally need the least action from users, deploying at the touch of a button, whereas even a remote-controlled hoist might need folding out – and ramps will often require manual setup. The mobility needs of everyone using the vehicle need to be taken into account while choosing.

Think about your space

The footprint of a lift is generally larger than that of a hoist, while a ramp is larger still, so you’ll need more space around the car to set up and operate it. 

As many wheelchair accessible vehicles tend to be larger, the two factors could combine to make many garages, driveways or parking spaces a bit of a tight squeeze. 

Whether access is from the side or the back is a key factor too – will there be room? Does the entire vehicle and hoist, ramp or lift, fit under a carport shelter, or in the garage, to keep the rain off?

Consider all your options

Ramps, hoists and lifts are far from the only options available for stowing wheelchairs, or helping wheelchair users transfer to a vehicle. 

Some of our favourite adaptation options at Cartwright are the incredibly clever rotating car seats, which open up a wide range of possibilities.

Rotating car seats

As the name suggests, these seats rotate out to allow easier chair-to-chair transfers from a wheelchair, or for easier access for those with limited walking mobility, with options for seats that can be raised and lowered for even more practical access.

Rotating car seats take up a relatively small amount of space around a vehicle when in use – though you will obviously need enough space to position a wheelchair next to your car if a chair-to-chair transfer is required.

Another major benefit is that they can be fitted to a driver or passenger-side position – and they don’t make any major structural changes to a car. For a family where both a wheelchair user and others drive, it’s an ideal option.

Book a home demo

Not sure of the best solution for you? Cartwright Mobility are here to help – we can come out to your home and conduct a demonstration of any vehicles and adaptations you’d like to try, giving you the opportunity to see how it works, whether it’s a comfortable process for all, and whether it fits on your drive!

Obviously, the potential for home visits is currently limited by the ongoing Covid-19 situation – but if you contact us we’ll be glad to answer any questions you have in the meantime.

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