A lot has happened since my last blog post and since this, my eyes have been open further to poor design for a wheelchair user.
So the last thing anyone wants to happen in their house is a water leak and the roof caving in… especially for a disabled user who feels most comfortable in their own home. After lots of stress, tidying, packing up, insurance companies, phone calls and interrupted plans, we finally had a plan of action sorted by disability insurers and we got moved into a hotel!
My partner’s mother (Victoria) and father (Martin) who uses a motorised wheelchair were faced with a challenge when it came to moving to the hotel, somewhere where they need to be comfortable, have enough room not only for the wheelchair itself, the turning circle, but also all the bags, equipment and medication that needs to be taken everywhere with them. Oh, and not forgetting our Service Dog, Sox!
After lots of phone calls with insurance companies, Victoria suggested to them a hotel that is perfectly suitable and accessible for them both to stay at. She explained that this hotel has wide door openings, a full flat level wet room, accessible bed and toilet… But after stating they had both previously stayed there with no issues, sadly the insurance company didn’t listen to the needs of the user and booked them into a hotel which wasn’t suitable at all, although it was advertised as a ‘fully accessible disabled room’.
So on arrival at the organised hotel, everything looked like it would be pleasant stay… the reception desk was in plain view and accessible, the bar was lowered by 2 steps, or there was a lift to go down to the bar but it was hidden away in a corner… why? It was all going okay until we got to room 121 on the ground floor, however, there was an issue as soon as we entered the room.
These images are part of my primary research and this is a first-hand experience to poor design.
Being put through a situation like this causes a lot of distress to both users. It isn’t easy or is almost impossible for some wheelchair users to adapt to a hotel room just like an able-bodied user can. If something isn’t right or is in the way then as an able-bodied user you can move it without a problem (if it isn’t too heavy or fixed down) but for a wheelchair user, this isn’t the case. Disabled access rooms are specifically designed to meet the needs of the user and help to make their stay as comfortable as possible. It is clear that in this situation, regulations haven’t been met to the full standard.
Images are taken from Mercure Bolton Georgian House Hotel (Milenkovic. A. 2018)