Accessible Vehicle Expo – Hunter
The local Accessible Vehicle Expo received the thumbs up from one Hunter family who already have a modified van thanks to the support of Cerebral Palsy Alliance.
Rachael Laing and Kurt Banks have three children – Millie, 9, Joe, 6, and Audrey who is soon turning 5. Little Joe has level five cerebral palsy and uses a specially-designed wheelchair to sit comfortably and move around.
He has been receiving therapies from the team at Cerebral Palsy Alliance Stuart Centre at Croudace Bay since he was four months old. And the team have supported him and his family every step of the way. The team were right there when the family decided that they needed a motor vehicle that Joe could easily enter, be secure and safe, without having to lift him or his wheelchair in and out.
“We ended up going with the Hyundai iMax and we have had it modified to meet Joe’s individual needs and that of the entire family,” said Rachael.
“It would have been great to attend the expo as we would have got to see different cars and modification all in one easy place, it would have made the process a lot easier for us.
“Once the decision was made on what van, we worked with Joe’s Occupational Therapist (OT) to secure the modifications. She was great, she listened to everything that we wanted and came back with solutions tailored to us.”
Since the team at Freedom Motors completed the modifications it has changed the family’s life, including being able to go on holiday together.
“We don’t have to lift Joe or a wheelchair in and out, which is important as he is getting bigger. His new larger wheelchair is due in the next couple of weeks and I’m not sure I would have been able to lift it,” Rachael said.
“When he’s in the van he can sit comfortably in his custom-made chair, instead of a car seat, with his head and neck supported. Joe gets to sit up the front with his sisters and Archie his dog. He gets to be a part of the conversation and do everything we are doing. The docking station was something we personally paid extra for because it means that even his grandparents can wheel Joe in, click him into place and take him out, which he loves.”
For any family looking to start the process, Rachael has some great tips.
“Firstly attend the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Accessible Vehicle Expo and see what is available. Work with one of their OTs because I’m not sure if we would have been able to get through it without them,” she said.
“Take the time to research and try as many vehicles as possible. Speak to other families with modified vans and the different supplies. I’d recommend to start this a long time before you need it as the process can take a while,” said Rachael.
Come along to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Accessible Vehicle Expo on Wednesday 30 November 10am to 4pm at 61 Parklea Avenue, Croudace Bay. Get in touch by calling 4979 4333 to arrange a time to meet with an occupational therapist who will be able to support you throughout the process.