I think I caught the travel bug quite a while ago. But when I was travelling with my family including my dad who would just throw wherever was needed it was easy. Now, I live independently and so travel with PAs (or more recently my boyfriend). I’m constantly on the hunt for places I can go and it’s tricky because I need to use a hoist to transfer. Also like many disabled people, I hate flying because it’s such a big risk so I love travelling by train. I have (for some reason) always wanted to go to Germany and it was a possible choice for my most recent break. I thought about Berlin and started to look at hotels. It was then I came across a mainstream hotel chain that provides portable hoists in a lot of their hotels for free. Wow! It dawned on me that this was such a simple solution and would open up travelling to so many disabled people.
No matter how simple a solution, the UK is yet to catch on. While some hotels in the UK (and by some I mean 20!) offer ceiling hoists, none offer portable hoists (okay one does and this is offered alongside a ceiling hoist so they just flat out win the accessibility prize). But if you do need a hoist while away from home, what do you do? While I’ve identified four options:
- Only stay in accommodation that has a hoist
- Take your own portable hoist
- Rent a hoist at your destination
- Just not go away
Let’s talk through the options.
Option 1 seems okay. However, there are only 20 hotels and B & Bs in the UK with a ceiling hoist, and 8 of those are in London! So as you can probably guess this option is rather limiting.
Option 2 could also be okay. However, if you take your own portable hoist you will probably need to drive your own vehicle as taking a portable hoist on public transport is difficult. If you don’t drive, then this isn’t really feasible.
Option 3 allows for the most flexibility but it would dramatically increase costs. Most equipment companies have a minimum rental duration (usually 7 or 10 days). So even if you only want the hoist for one night, you have to pay for 7. Sometimes, there can also be delivery fees too.
Option 4 is one which I suspect is the most popular. Sometimes it can just be too much hassle finding accommodation and then sorting out your equipment needs. Disabled people may decide to travel back late at night or just miss an opportunity altogether. It is sad this is a reality for disabled people in 2017.
I work for Muscular Dystrophy UK’s Trailblazers and tourism is one of things we campaign on. So I took this idea of increasing the provision of hoists in hotels back to the team. Now, we want to find out just how bad the situation is and we then want to work to fix it. But, we need your help to do this.
Firstly, if you use a hoist to transfer, then please fill in our very short survey here. Secondly, if you’ve decided not to go away or had to cut an opportunity short, we’d love to hear your story. You can share your story with us by emailing Trailblazers.
On a separate note, I didn’t end up going to Germany so that remains on my list of places to visit. Instead I went to Paris where I rented a portable hoist (which cost a small fortune). If you want to find out more about my trip, you can read about it here.
By Lauren West