Hello Mobility Monday readers!
How many of you have a Motability car? Have you heard about the Motability scheme?
It works hand in hand with disability benefits, allowing those who qualify (those receiving higher rate mobility component in their disability benefits) to ‘swap out’ their monthly payments from cash, to a car (or wheelchair/scooter). Most contracts are for three years. You don’t have to tax or insure the vehicle and there is so much support in regards to the care, maintenance and any adaptions needed to the car.
This sounds like a sweet deal, right? In so many ways it is! We can’t afford to tax and insure a car ourselves, even if we managed to save up enough to buy one. We rely on car transport for extremely important hospital appointments and generally getting around, as public transport is still so inaccessible and unreliable. The Motability scheme works brilliantly for many disabled people but for some, it is extremely limited. We realised we fit into that group when we went to organise our first car, three years ago.
The issue for us, again, was my NHS wheelchair. Wheelchair services are only allowed to give specific wheelchairs for specific needs. I was assessed as needing mine inside and outside, and it needed to be powered, as I suffer injuries trying to use a manual chair. The wheelchair I was awarded filled those requirements, but it was also extremely difficult to transport. It is heavy, it doesn’t fold or come apart and it is large in width and height. At the time of ordering our Motability car, there was only one on the whole list of hundreds of makes and models that would be anywhere close to fitting my wheelchair in. Just one. We had the option of looking at WAVs too (wheelchair accessible vehicles) but they are so large, I didn’t want to be a passenger in my wheelchair rather than a car seat and we couldn’t afford the advanced payments (starting from about £1,000 going through to about £6,000). We had to choose a 7-seater Seat Alhambra and please don’t get me wrong, it was a lovely large, basic car – it just wasn’t right for us. We had to pay an extra advance for it, though smaller than the WAV charges, and had to pay for a hoist to be fitted, too. Both together totalled a few hundred, rather than the thousands the WAVs cost. For three years it served us really well, getting to vital hospital appointments, coping with day to day life and letting us get to places as a family we had never been able to explore before.
Then just before Christmas, in the middle of all the Lith-Tech Smart Chair 1XL wheelchair fundraiser/my NHS ‘chair breaking down stuff, I received a letter from Motability stating it was time to pick our new car! I was hit with excitement but also a heap of dread. I hate change! But I knew we needed a change, as the Alhambra was just too big for us to feel comfortable in. When the crazy whirlwind of the wheelchair fundraiser settled and I was able to purchase my new Smart Chair 1XL, I knew we’d be able to have so much more choice moving forward with picking a car. This was such a weight off my mind!
We went to look at cars a few Saturday’s ago, bringing the Smart Chair 1XL along with us for size. We had a small selection of models in mind which were 5 seaters with bigger boot space but on viewing the first two, they just felt like a slightly smaller version of what we already had. A bit boring. Basic. Still too large.
Then we stumbled upon it.
A Renault Clio R.S Line TCe 100, in Valencia Orange.
It was parked next to one of the other Renaults we were originally looking at and it just caught our attention! My husband’s eyes lit up, which is rare for him when it comes to cars. Neither of us really care about car brands or looks that much. Going car shopping is a bit like looking at the same boring things you know nothing about, over and over again in slightly different ways. There was something different about this little Clio though! I thought there was no way the boot would be large enough to fit my new wheelchair in with space for other practicalities (shopping/luggage etc.) but I was proven so wrong. With the spacious boot space of the Clio and the amazing foldable technology of my Smart Chair 1XL we were able to pop the ‘chair into the boot with ease. It could also be lifted in via the back door with one seat folded down, opening even more room. I honestly couldn’t believe it.
We went to look at a few more cars at another local garage just to scratch that itch that we weren’t missing out on anything else that we weren’t expecting to look at, but everyone’s minds kept on drifting back to the Clio. It presented itself to us as our car and there wasn’t anything we could do about it! As we don’t have to fit an expensive hoist and the car is smaller, we have been able to upgrade to a model with fancy pants interior, pretty wheels and an all round view camera/sat nav screen! (You can tell how much I know about cars!).
Basically, it’s totally cool, in my opinion of course.
I’m sure a lot of people will dislike it! However it is nice to have something that I’m paying for which is my vision of cool and that I’ve actually picked, rather than having to have the only thing available for me that I didn’t really like.
I know I’ve been advocating a lot about how much the Lith-Tech Smart Chair 1XL has positively changed things for me but it’s so freeing to be able to make choices like this. I’ll never forget how much love, hope and change my family, friends and strangers flooded my life with at the end of last year.
Let me know about your Motability and wheelchair experiences below!