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Addressing people in wheelchairs

(42 Posts)
Beswitched Sat 20-Mar-21 21:10:31

My mother has been gradually becoming less mobile due to a problem in her spine
She still has all her faculties, dresses smartly, puts on make up going out etc.
We got a small collapsible wheelchair recently just to make things easier for her. I used it for the first time today to take her to a hospital appointment and was really shocked at how staff at the hospital addressed me instead of her all the time.
If people working in a medical setting do this what hope is there of other people realising that just because someone's lost the use of their legs it doesn't mean they've lost all ability to speak for themselves.?

Franbern Sun 25-Apr-21 11:31:59

Well, I just want to say that I have not found most of this applies to myself when I am out and about on my mobility scooter.

I have, has a whole, found that the greater majority of people are extremely friendly and helpful. When I trundling up a narrow pavement, people coming towards me, nearly always step in the road to let me past. I ALWAYS make a point of smiling and saying 'Thank you'. Never any problem in lifts anywhere, indeed I am often waved to the front, to use these these.

Yes, sometime, I am unable to pass by someone in front of me on a pavement, but this is nearly always because they do not realise I am behind them (I am reluctant to use the hooter), when they see me they always apologise.

However, my ex-hubbie was a long-time electric wheelchair user - and was so very rude. He had an expectation that EVERYBODY should just get out of his way wherever he was or what he was doing. He was a genuine hazard to other people on pavements, in shops and on the road. To the extent that our adult children all refused to go with him anywhere.

Yesterday I was sitting on my scooter in short queue to pay in a store and was waved in front of a lovely young family with small baby. I refused, with a smile, saying they should have priority over me.

Think it is a lot of 'Do as you would be done by'

H1954 Mon 12-Apr-21 08:39:53

I was trained many years ago to crouch down to speak to wheelchair users 'at their level' and I still do this now as a community volunteer.
However, at a Vaccination Hub recently, I addressed a frail and elderly lady in a wheelchair ( checking if she was warm enough in the waiting area ) the younger woman with her said, very loudly and quite vehemently, " It's no use talking to her, she got Dementia and is totally gaga!" Although socially distanced many other patients heard her comment.
I made a point to inform her that I speak to ALL of our patients, regardless of their capacity, as everyone deserves to be treated with respect. My comment was equally as loud and received some positive response from the other patients in the form of a short round of applause.
It's not just strangers who demean those in wheelchairs.

Razzy Sun 11-Apr-21 23:15:44

This reminds me of a friend who got fed up of people not asking him stuff. One day he was queuing for food, along with 2 friends. The server asked his friends what he would like. And he pretended he was mentally incapable shall we say. He is one of the most intelligent people I know but paraplegic since a parachuting accident. He is a Chief Pilot, instructor, holds full commercial licence. I learned alot knowing him.

Forestflame Fri 09-Apr-21 20:39:28

When I worked in a hospital (many years ago now), I was always told to crouch down by the side of the wheelchair, not 'loom' over the patient. It's much harder to talk down to someone if you are looking up at them.

Baggs Fri 02-Apr-21 18:34:35

Oh dear! Sorry to hear that, Beswitched. Not good. but could it have something to do with eye level, do you think?

Still, people in medical and social care settings should certainly be better trained.

grannysyb Fri 02-Apr-21 18:19:00

Re parking by able bodied people I had a friend who would put a note on the car saying "you've got my space, now would you like my disability", I hope it made some of the selfish idiots think!

TrendyNannie6 Fri 02-Apr-21 16:32:18

Oh I had this a lot used to make me cross, even drs doing it, I used to wheel my dad into the drs appointment I’d be sitting in the chair opposite the dr, and I’d get, how is your father today? The dr obviously addressing me, I said why don’t you ask him yourself! So many times I watched my dads face fall when people would ignore him,and speak to me about him, but I always put them straight, it’s very hurtful to be ignored especially when being spoken about, I’ve always spoken to the person in the wheelchair and asked how they are, or made small talk

JaneJudge Mon 22-Mar-21 19:55:44

This is dreadful sad I feel I have been really lucky as people speak to my daughter first mainly even though she has a learning disability, is it because she is young I wonder?

Beswitched Mon 22-Mar-21 19:29:26

Shocking that people still behave like that. There has been so much publicly about people in wheelchairs being subjected to the 'does she take sugar' treatment and we're apparently living through a very woke time., but something as simple as talking directly to people in wheelchairs seems to be beyond general comprehension.

Granarchist Mon 22-Mar-21 13:53:43

I was at a wedding where the bride was in a wheelchair - a waiter carried a tray of canapes over her head and went straight past her. I had to grab his arm to get him to offer her one!!!! He was just oblivious to her.

Nanof3 Mon 22-Mar-21 13:10:21

I used a wheelchair when I was waiting for a knee op and was amazed at how rude people were. In the supermarket several leant over me to pick up yoghurt, cheese etc none said excuse me or asked if they could help me reach anything.
I get especially annoyed by those who park in disabled spots when the disabled person is not with them.

Ro60 Sun 21-Mar-21 14:32:09

Flexiblefriend: Hospital lifts 😱 sometimes I've found the opposite too with people letting us go first.
The worst experience was when my beautiful DD was very ill & struggled to walk into the hospital. A middle aged gent said to her,
"You're young, you could use take the stairs"
So upsetting - he'd got so far in life and still able bodied & she was ill at such a young age. 10 years on.It still riles me.

Oldwoman70 Sun 21-Mar-21 13:37:32

This is something I noticed once my friend had to start using a wheelchair. She was a great seamstress and I would often take her shopping to buy fabrics. More often than not the assistant would start asking me questions - which as I have trouble telling one end of a needle from the other wasn't very productive. My friend would usually make some funny remark and the assistant would then switch to talking to her!

It did make me aware of the difficulties that confront those in wheelchairs

Beswitched Sun 21-Mar-21 13:26:38

Thanks for all of the replies. Yes it's a shame that this is still an issue that needs highlighting. Yesterday was the first time mum has been out in the wheelchair but she noticed it and will be more prepared next time and not just accept it.

Urmston gran I got my name from the title of a Children's book by Kate Saunders. A time slip novel and school story all in one. Perfectsmile

FlexibleFriend Sun 21-Mar-21 13:18:47

I use a wheelchair and don't find I'm ignored, probably because if they address my son instead of me I reply as though they had addressed me and he ignores them. What I find really irritating is sitting in my wheelchair waiting for a lift in hospital and when the lift arrives all the able bodied mainly medical staff rush forward and block the doorway. I now tell my son to run their feet over and they soon shift. You'd think they'd know better but in my experience they are so much worse.

timetogo2016 Sun 21-Mar-21 10:57:14

We had the same when my mother was in a wheelchair.
But she didn`t stand for being ignored and told them so,we didn`t get the chance to say anything,sadly she isn`t with us.

trisher Sun 21-Mar-21 10:47:04

I used to push my mother forward in her wheelchair and then step back a bit. If they wanted to talk to someone they had to speak to her or shout across at me. And my mother was very capable of telling them off if she felt ignored.

Hetty58 Sun 21-Mar-21 10:03:26

My daughter noticed it when she broke her leg. Suddenly, people treated her quite differently - and spoke to me instead.

Redhead56 Sun 21-Mar-21 10:01:53

Both my mum and MIL ended up in wheelchairs neither of them would allow people to talk for them or over them. They were both very strong minded women.

suziewoozie Sun 21-Mar-21 10:00:30

Grandma interesting point - I’m only 5’ 2”. As for your experience reflecting mine, I think non-wheelchair users have to avoid falling into the trap of not accepting we have some responsibility for how we are treated by speaking up for ourselves ( literally). If I went anywhere where I felt I was ignored because of the wheelchair, I’d deal with it either at the time or afterwards.

Grandma70s Sun 21-Mar-21 09:54:03

I can’t walk very far, so have used a wheelchair sometimes. I haven’t had any feeling of being ignored. People do speak to me normally, I think.

What I dislike about it is being so low down. I am tall, and not used to looking up to people all the time. I suppose a short person would notice this less. It has made me feel there must be a big psychological difference between tall and short people.

suziewoozie Sun 21-Mar-21 09:53:07

By practical aspect, I mean non automatic opening doors, lack of lifts , steps ( even small ones) lack of parking and lack of dropped kerbs - that sort of thing. Obviously more modern buildings are much better including part of reception being at a lower level. As I said, when we enter somewhere, I immediately speak up even if it’s just an hello and then the conversation starts between us. If we were there only for DH then I’d expect the conversation to be between him and the relevant person.

BlueSky Sun 21-Mar-21 09:50:18

Suzie I once was PA to a lady who used a wheelchair while out and like you, she would always speak first, getting quite annoyed if anybody ignored her and tried to aske me!

Alexa Sun 21-Mar-21 09:39:10

Sodapop, when I arrived to work as a dog 'therapist' at a social club for multiply disabled people I was greeted by a young woman with Down's syndrome. She was so confident and efficient that any prejudice I had was immediately dispelled.

Alexa Sun 21-Mar-21 09:34:09

Suziewoozie, by "the practical aspect" do you refer to how the person sitting in the chair is physically lower down and has to keep looking up at people who are standing? Very short people then have the same problem with their height.

Conversely a significantly tall woman , even if elderly , has more social power than a short woman. This bias is obvious among fashion models who are almost all tall.
One way for both men and women to add gravitas and authority to a wheelchair position would be to cultivate a deep toned and fairly loud voice.