It can be difficult to transport the one you love when they are confined to a wheelchair. You do have some options to consider that can make it a bit easier.


7/15/20234 min read

I brought Diana home from the rehab center in our car. I had help to get her in the car from two of her physical therapists. Our son helped me to get her out of our Chevy Malibu, into her wheelchair and into the house. She was using a standard wheelchair and a pivot at the time.

We found that we really didn't have a good place at home to load her in and out of the car. The neighbor told us that we could use her concrete driveway for this purpose which was doable but still left us with some challenges.

Trying to use the car for transport could be done but required a lot of work and two people to get it done. I just wasn't comfortable trying to do this by myself. Once we got her in the car, we had to fold up the pivot and the wheelchair and store them in the trunk. When we would get to the destination we would have to get everything back out of the trunk, set it up, get her out of the car, and then fold the pivot up and put it back in the trunk. We would have to start all over again when we were ready to go back home, and of course, do it again when we got home.

This was okay when the weather was decent, but not so much when it was raining or cold outside. We decided to try public transportation to see how that would work. Our town has public transportation that uses vans that have wheelchair lifts. This was okay but still presented some challenges. The first problem was that they required level ground to be able to load and unload. That meant that we had to go almost a half a block down the street to load and unload her.

Not that big a deal if the weather was good but not so much when it was raining or cold. The second problem was that even though you would be given a pickup time, sometimes they would be fifteen or twenty minutes late. This also often happened when needing to come back home. This just was not an ideal method of transportation either and we wound up being late for several appointments which got canceled because we were more than fifteen minutes late.

I decided that the best thing would be to purchase a wheelchair van and that created another problem. Sometimes when you really need or want something you just can't find one. New wheelchair vans are unbelievably expensive so I needed to find a good used one. The problem was the nearest one I was able to locate was two and a half hours away.

I was not able to travel that far to look at it. There simply was no way that I could leave Diana at home alone for that long even if I had someone to sit with her. She doesn't want anyone else changing her or taking her to the bathroom and I totally understand that.

I called the dealer who had the van for sale and asked as many questions about it as I could think up. Unfortunately, the dealer didn't know much about wheelchair vans and neither did I at the time. I decided to buy it site unseen and that turned out to be a really bad idea. First off, the entire purchase was a major hassle. Next, I had to send someone to pick it up and had to figure out how to get them there. I did finally manage to get it done and was happy with the purchase at first.

This van had a lift and we soon found out some down falls with about that. We used this van for a couple of months and all seemed to be working out okay. We were able to locate a used electric wheelchair for Diana because she was having problems being able to use the regular chair. This was due to the effects that her stroke had caused with her left arm.

The electric wheelchair worked great for her but caused a problem with the use of the van. The new wheelchair came with some added weight. We now had a problem with the lift on the van. The lift was fastened to the floor pan and the floor pan had been weakened by rust. The added weight of the chair was causing the floor pan to flex and this allowed the lift to move when lifting her. I was told by a local welding shop that it would be pricey to reinforce the floor pan to make it safe.

I decided to cut my losses and look for another van. I found myself right back with the same problem of trying find one. I got lucky the second time and found one that would fill the bill. This van had a ramp instead of a lift. Now we we have a much better and safer solution to our transportation needs. I lost my butt when I tried to resale the first van but I guess we live and learn.

When purchasing a wheelchair van, there are five important factors to take into consideration. Firstly, it is crucial to assess the size and weight capacity of the van to ensure it can accommodate the needs of the wheelchair user. Secondly, the ease of access and maneuverability of the van should be evaluated to ensure smooth and hassle-free transportation. Additionally, the van's safety features, such as wheelchair restraints and secure tie-downs, should be carefully inspected to guarantee the well-being of the passenger. It is also essential to consider the van's fuel efficiency and maintenance costs to ensure long-term affordability. Lastly, researching and comparing different models and prices will help in making an informed decision and finding the best wheelchair van that meets individual needs.

When comparing a wheelchair van with a ramp and a wheelchair van with a lift, there are several factors to consider. Both options provide accessibility for individuals with mobility limitations, but they differ in terms of convenience and ease of use. A wheelchair van with a ramp offers a more straightforward and cost-effective solution. The ramp can be manually operated and does not require any additional mechanical components. On the other hand, a wheelchair van with a lift offers a more advanced and automated solution. The lift can be operated remotely and allows for easier entry and exit for wheelchair users. However, it may come at a higher cost due to the added technology and installation. Ultimately, the choice between a ramp and a lift depends on the specific needs and preferences of the individual.