Our previous two vehicles over the past five years have been leases. After getting rid of our little four-door sedan, we decided to lease. As Namine’s equipment needs have changed, leasing has allowed us to swap vehicles with the most ease.
Our past two vehicles have been SUVs, and while they served their purpose and provided us with ample space, we simply need more space. Namine now has a larger wheelchair, a larger walker, and two different sport wheelchairs. Her basketball chair is especially large, as it needs to protect her legs. The sport chair we have on loan from WASA, which she uses in tennis, is not as long but is still wider than her everyday chair.
All of these equipment needs had to be factored into our decision on a new vehicle, which led to us deciding on a minivan.
In addition to the space we gain in getting a van, it’s also easier for Namine to get in and out of the vehicle. Instead of climbing in the back, as she did in the SUV, she can now open the sliding door on the side. Since the floor of the van is pretty much level with her wheelchair, transferring requires no climbing.
The middle seats slide along a track, so we can slide the seat in to make room for Namine climbing into the van. She can climb up into the seat and buckle herself in, after which we slide the seat back into its original position. From there, Namine can close the sliding door with the press of a button.
Namine’s procedure for getting out of the van is simply the reverse of getting in. She was able to practice this whole process once before we finalized our decision — it wasn’t the deciding factor, but it did make us all feel better about this aspect — and a few times more before we took the van home.