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Getting in and out of cars with a mobility issue

Having access to transport, or being able to transport yourself is a key part of independence for most people. As our lifestyles and mobility change, getting in and out of the car can become more of a challenge. In order to keep you (or your loved ones) enjoying the life you want, we have covered some of the best ways to help you stay mobile.

1. Techniques

Most people commonly get in and out of the car by putting one leg in, sitting down, and then bringing the other leg in. However, if you suffer from mobility issues, or are finding that you have less flexibility in your legs as you age, this can be difficult.

One technique for entering the car that places far less strain on your body, is to sit down onto the car seat with both legs on the pavement, and then swivel both legs in together. This is also a far easier technique for those who have a walker or mobility aid, as you are applying even pressure to the aid, and don’t have to worry about slips and falls.

Reversing this method (swivelling both legs out and then standing up) is also the best way to exit the vehicle, as you don’t have to balance or rely on the strength of just one leg, and allows you to use your walker in the most effective way.

Ask your family member or carer to park on the flat. If parking you need to park near a curb, park ½ a meter or so out from the curb allowing room for your walking aid/walker. Do not try and transfer from the top of a curb edge. This is often far too high for most people.

What helps many people (particularly those with hip replacements) is to ask your family member or carer to adjust the passenger front seat for you first. Slide the seat back and recline if necessary too. This allows more space for you to lean back and swing your legs in without having to bend your knees through a tight space. This often has less chance of pain with arthritic hips and knees.

2. Equipment

If you are finding that the above technique is no longer effective for you due to difficulties with strength or flexibility, there are a variety of transfer items that are available to assist in staying independent.

Swivel cushions can be easily placed in any seat, allowing you to just sit on them and use the cushion to rotate in the seat. Leg lifters can be useful if you struggle with lifting or moving your legs on their own, and a wooden transfer board with an autoslide car transfer assist can make it easy to get from a wheelchair or seated position into a vehicle.

Car swivel cushions sold at LifeMobility can assist with accessibility.

A simple car swivel cushion can make all the difference to using a vehicle

To view our full range of car transfer assistance equipment, you can visit our website here. Otherwise, contact us for a conversation about your unique needs, and we can help you decide what might be the most effective product for you.

3. Wheelchairs

If you are using a wheelchair, there are a few techniques that can be used to get in and out of the car on your own, if you are able to use your arms. Make sure that your car and wheelchair are stable, braked and parked on level ground. Once you feel that the wheelchair is stable, you can use a transfer board or slide to manoeuvre your body into the car, sit, and then twist your legs in. Otherwise, lift your legs into the foot well, and lift your body across.

If you don’t have enough strength in your arms, a leg lift and slide board might also be an option.

4. Patient Hoists

If you are unable to get in and out of your wheelchair on your own, it is useful to have a patient hoist so that someone can assist you get in and out of the car easily. This reduces strain on the body of those assisting, as they don’t have to lift, and should be the most comfortable option for you or the patient.

Patient hoists and slings can assist with mobility

A hoist and sling needs to be fitted to your unique body, so your local mobility showroom should allow you to try a few options before making a decision.

Make sure you try out your sling and hoist before purchasing, as the sling and hoist should be comfortable and pain free. Ideally, you should be able to sit in a slightly reclined or upright position, so it is important to try the sling to make sure it fits your unique needs. You can visit our showroom to try out our slings and hoists, as this is the best way to know what solution will work for you.

5. Public Transport

Public transport is also an option for those with walkers, rollators and mobility scooters. If you have an access issue, you might have the opportunity to apply for a free travel pass, which also makes public transport an economical option.

Mobility Aids help with travelling on public transport

Check your travel pass eligibility to avoid unnecessary travel costs.

In Victoria, all trains are wheelchair accessible, and train drivers are required to help you access the network. Over 80% of buses in Victoria are accessible, while some stops and routes of trams are accessible, but not all. The PTV website and journey planner app are a great way to get familiar with which tram and bus stops will work best for you. Public Transport Victoria has created a guide for using the network with a mobility aid, that can be found here.

Finding a way to get in and out of the car, either as a driver or a passenger can be difficult without a little advice, but with the right items and technique, you can stay independent and mobile. For assistance with working out the best plan and products for you to get travelling you can contact us or view our products online. Ready to go on a road trip? We have catalogued our favourite Victorian wheelchair accessible destinations.


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