As a research associate I have spent a large part of my working life on wheelchairs. To test design and safety analyses. I co-founded the independent Foundation Vast = Beter, founded in 2004. The aim of this foundation is to improve the safety of the transport of people with disabilities, through training and information in the workplace. Until October 2014, I contributed to this foundation. In addition, I am an experience expert. My partner was already taking care of Arjen, our (zEMB) foster child, when I met her in 1985. In 2018, Arjen died at the age of 45. Arjen taught me a lot!
In 2014 I stopped my work on the safety of wheelchair transport. I felt less and less at ease and on adjustments to the ‘old’ Code VVR during the consultations, was less able to contribute as an independent researcher. With my second cap on as an experiential parent, I regularly became angry and sad. The overview you need to have as a researcher disappeared. It was increasingly about sub-interests of parties and less about the overall picture and the sensitivity to the other. (The other is the guide to the good. about Emanuel Levinas, article in Trouw.
Safety aspects for wheelchair users in (taxi) transport.
I felt, and I still do, that regulations on standards and regulations on the safety of wheelchair transport are a matter for all parties involved. First of all to the wheelchair user! In addition, taxi companies, wheelchair manufacturers, suppliers/adaptation companies, municipalities, care offices, UWV and physio- and occupational therapists and rehabilitation specielists play a role, because they are all involved in providing a well-suited ergonomically sound wheelchair. A good security policy requires an open transparent discussion. And no fait accompli, which harms wheelchair users and drivers.
Safety thrives on openness and the freedom to report risks. We can learn from reported risks.
In the past, as a TNO-er, commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Water Management, I have carried out research into the safety of wheelchair transport in all modes of transport (literature study) and on accidents and almost accidents in wheelchair transport. The latter was the reason for a Radar (Dutch TV) broadcast. Attention has been paid to it more often, in the form of black books. In the case of an (almost) accident, one always legally searches for someone to blame. A pointing finger is never far away as is anger, which is so human. But it doesn’t really solve the security problem. Each party involved then retreats behind its own shield. I hope that in the case of a report of a (near) accident, in all openness, an analysis of the cause is always made. So all parties can learn from it. This is more to the long-term safety of wheelchair transport than to the emergence of a claim culture.
Something about the Anglo-Saxon checklists and tick-off lists. They are sometimes useful, I refer to them on the site as well. They should never stand in the way of independent thinking as professionals and users in the safe wheelchair transport. I feel more for the Rhineland model where a carpenter specializes in carpentry, but also has enough knowledge to, if necessary, build the whole house. Invest in professionals and leave McKinsey at home. That is really better in the long run and also cheaper.
A good book to read in this regard: Marjolein Quené The management society.
A “new” code VVR has been released by Sociaal Fonds Mobiliteit , which is simpler but also more restrictive. Wheelchairs that do not comply with the ISO 7176/19 crash test, in particular the custom-made devices, should only be transported individually as of 1 July 2020. (Now postponed until 1 January 2021).
We do see you
This year the final report of the project group ‘We do see you. That describes the situation of Very Seriously Intellectually Multiple Limited (zEVMB) children and adults. Steps have been taken to improve the often complicated bureaucratic situations for parents and carers by appointing co-pilots. They take over some of the red tape. Parents are more in need of care and contact with their child and the child is not the victim of bureaucracy. One of the thorny points is the situation around transport. The funding of transport is very fragmented and that makes good agreements difficult. Because zEVMB people are often reliant on custom-made aids, the VVR-SFM code threatens, for example, the availability of transport and therefore of day care.
The Code VVR and We see you are reason to start this blog. To reexplain a number of principles of safe wheelchair transport, from my background and experience as a researcher. And to test this new Code VVR agreement for feasibility and compare it with the policy, as some other countries already apply.
This blog is not meant to be complete and is also no substitute for a Code VVR.
Making mistakes is only human, so I am certainly open to substantive commentary. It may take a while before a posted comment becomes visible. I want to be able to moderate (and translate) them. I would like to work within my means, on a common safe future for wheelchair transport.
Banning does not help the safety of wheelchair transport. Risk analysis and a learning organization do!
I would like to wish all those involved in the security process a great deal of wisdom in the steps to be taken at the moment. See after the other as a guide for the good.