For those who live each day with a disability, navigating the world and getting where you need to go is something you get used to dealing with. But for those who are helping someone with a disability get somewhere, it can sometimes be an eye-opening or challenging experience. Here are a few care safety tips to help caregivers assist those with a disability safely.
It’s a natural inclination to aid someone if they have a disability simply to be kind, but make sure you always ask what it is they need assistance with. You shouldn’t make assumptions about a person’s physical capabilities. If they’re a friend or family member, then you probably already know what they may need help with, but people who are new to assisting those with a disability need to remember to this very important step.
You also need to make sure you don’t ever touch someone’s mobility device or wheelchair without first asking them if it’s OK to do so. It’s also crucial to be patient as they get in and out of the vehicle. A few other tips to keep in mind as you transport someone with a disability include:
- Use helpful and positive body language.
- Allow them plenty of time to load and unload.
- Try not to interrupt them as they get situated.
- Speak clearly and directly to them.
- Keep direction simple and explain things one step at a time.
- Avoid criticism and argument.
- Ask questions and show them you’re responsive to the assistance they need.
- Always try to remain calm and non-agitated.
If you’re dealing with someone who has a disability that impacts their hearing, make sure to face them when you speak, allow them proper time for a response, and above all, don’t shout!
Whether you’re helping someone into a car, handling their wheelchair or mobility device, or helping them transfer to and from a mobility device, you must use proper body mechanics to ensure everyone’s health and safety.
If lifting is involved, make sure to plan accordingly. Look around the area for potential hazards such as slippery spots and wear footwear with flat, non-skid soles. Always make sure to use your legs to lift, never your back, and also remember to squat instead of bending at the waist. If you have to carry something, carry it as close to your body as you can, and get help if something is simply too heavy for you. It’s important to know your own limits, even if you have a desire to do as much as you can to help.
Keep in mind that understanding how to secure a disabled person in your car properly and transport their mobility device safely is your responsibly as the driver. If you are ever pulled over as you’re transporting them and something isn’t secured properly, then you can be held accountable. So know the rules before you go and follow them as best as you can.
For wheelchair transfers, you’ll need to follow a lot of the same lifting rules as you help someone to transfer from their wheelchair or another mobility device to the car or van. Once you get them in, assist them in putting on their safety belt and closing their door securely before you go to the driver’s seat.
The Rules of the Road
When driving your disabled friend or a loved one from one place to another, it’s good to use extra caution. Sudden stops may cause injury, so it’s best to go slowly and take every precaution you can when pulling out onto the road and getting to your destination.
If you’re transporting someone who is disabled and has a disabled parking permit, you can use that permit when you’re with them. You cannot use this permit if they are not in the car with you (in fact, doing so could result in them losing their disabled parking permit altogether). When they are with you, feel free to use all the privileges that go along with the handicap parking permit to ensure your friend or loved one can comfortably be near the entrance to buildings and other facilities.
Disabled Parking Spaces
In most states, you can’t miss disabled parking spaces. They’re often painted in a bright and unmistakable way so they’re easily identifiable to everyone. Be aware that you need to have a handicap parking permit to park in these spaces, even if you’re transporting someone with a disability. If you park in one of these spaces without one, then you may be subject to a ticket or even towed.
If you have the disabled parking permit, then feel free to use handicap parking spaces. As long as the permit is displayed adequately, then you shouldn’t have trouble utilizing these spaces.
Transporting a person with disabilities adds a few extra considerations to travel, but once you practice it a few times and become familiar with car safety tips, it’ll become second nature.