September 28, 2015 | 2:57 pm | By Pants Up Easy
Going out to eat with friends and family is a major pastime for many people. While this is usually a very enjoyable activity, it can be a bit stressful as a wheelchair user. While most restaurants and other public places have wheelchair accessible restrooms, they may not be the easiest places to maneuver. Below you will find four tips for going to the restroom as a wheelchair user that you should keep in mind for the next time you visit a new restaurant.
If you know where you will be meeting your dining partners beforehand, consider calling or going online to find out if their restroom, as well as the restaurant itself, is wheelchair accessible. Going online to look at reviews can sometimes fill you in on issues that you may encounter that the restaurant would not tell you about, as many wheelchair users will leave helpful feedback for others on review sites if they have had a negative experience. For example, many restaurants, especially in cities with older buildings, are extremely difficult for wheelchair users to maneuver. They may not be up to date with the most recent regulations for wheelchair accessibility. Finding out beforehand will allow you to suggest another dining option in order to make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved.
When you need to visit the restroom, plot out the path that you will take before taking off. Ask the server where the restroom is located, and make sure that there is a clear path for you to take where you are sure your wheelchair will easily fit. Some restaurants are considered wheelchair accessible but are extremely difficult to get around in a wheelchair, so asking for assistance may be necessary.
Many wheelchair users like to enlist the help of a transfer board when they know they will be using a public restroom. A transfer board can assist a wheelchair user in safely and more easily transferring from their wheelchair to the toilet, car, bed, or other surface. If you tend to struggle with transferring from your chair to the toilet, especially in new or potentially cramped settings, a transfer board may be your best bet. There are many different types of transfer boards available, made in different shapes, sizes, and materials. Personal preference will determine which board is right for you.
Before you actually move from your wheelchair to the toilet and back, make sure you are set up for success. Lock the wheels of your chair into place, with your chair as close to the toilet as possible. Pull your pants down around your knees, careful not to let them fall to your ankles as this could potentially trip you up and cause a fall. Move your arm rests and foot rests out of the way if you feel they may be in the way. Use your transfer board if you choose to have one, or make sure there are sturdy grab bars nearby. Developing a plan of action before making a move can make the process much easier and safer for you.
While it may seem that something as simple as visiting the restroom shouldn’t be a major event, for wheelchair users, that isn’t always the case. It’s an unfortunate fact that using the restroom, especially in public, is a challenge that all wheelchair users must face. By preparing yourself beforehand, you can take away some of the stress that you might face in the situation and prepare yourself for a much more carefree meal out with family or friends.