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August 8 2013 5 08 /08 /August /2013 22:13

on a bus in GenevaA couple of weeks ago, I went to Geneva to be part of the UK CEDAW NGO delegation. As usual with any trip as a disabled person there were all the preliminary research to do - far more than a non disabled traveler.


I decided against flying ( fear of damage to my wheelchair en flight) in favour of taking the Eurostar and then the train to Geneva which necessited a bus trip (bus 65) across Paris from Gare du Nord to Gare de Lyon.We missed our connection because signage is terrible, we couldnt figure out the station and they wouldnt let us get on the train because although there were still 10 minutes before the train was due to set off, we were not there half an hour before as required (oh yes, we did prebook assistance). We had to wait 3 hours for the next train.


But I had also got to find an accessible hotel room for the 5 days we were to be there. My fellow NGO colleagues were staying in a non accessible hostel so that was ruled out. A search on the internet did not result in any useful leads. A trawl through the NGO website for accessible rooms gave me a few to call with no positive answers but a suggestion from the

International Network of Women with Disabilities connected me to my first break - Hotel Silva, wonderful place, simple but accessible and central. I should add that many NGOs seem to use this hotel and my fellow disabled CEDAW sisters (from Cape Verde and Serbia) were also staying here and I met the wonderful Shivani Gupta from India there too - a fabulous bit of serendipity.


http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7448/9321341406_44e0e3fe49_q.jpg   http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3734/9321339774_d50031371a_q.jpg  http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2836/9318550485_651bac8c9c_q.jpg  


http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5499/9318553589_92d672a219_q.jpg  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5493/9318554991_31d06f7521_q.jpg  http://www.hotel-silva.ch/images/stories/slide/DSC00796.jpg


There are a few niggles - the entrance is at the back, the beds are so close to the wardrobe you can't really use it and the lift is tiddley small. But there is a fridge and a microwave in each room ( we brought our own kettle).  Something that I did not realise is that Swiss plugs are not the same as standardised European plugs - so we were very lucky that we had one socket which we could use with our adaptor and I had the presence of mind to bring an extension lead - for all the charging we needed for our electrical appliances - wheelchair, laptops, ipad, mobile phones etc. I forgot to tell them that their shower chair was wobbley and the locking system did not work properly. Other wise we were very happy with the room. Eleanor who shared the room with me was pleased by the balcony (for smoking). There is an Ibis nearby on Rue de Grand Pre but it was more expensive - I didnt manage to check out the accessible rooms but they told me they had roll in showers. We also had dinner out round the corner at a Vietnamese Restaurant La Maison d'Asie which was pleasant - there were quite a few accessible restaurants at rue de la Servette (also tram stop Poterie to the train station).


We didnt really go sight seeing but walking on the lakeside was quite pleasant, we did eat out with the whole group. And being me, my first photo was not of the scenic lake but an accessible portaloo! Geneva had some really steep ramps too - surely they cannot be for wheelchair users?


http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5512/9324258629_9036e8bd49_q.jpg  http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5465/9377508125_d4925e74c3_q.jpg  http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3778/9318567021_49c24e0a3f_q.jpg


I was also glad I brought my new trabasack max with me with all the documents etc I had to carry around. I could also use it as a mini desk at times. The transport system seems to be fairly accessible - both buses and trams. The bus drivers were the most polite and helpful I have encountered ever in my life. AND you can fit 2 wheelchairs in the same bus!


I wish I could say the same for the trains - the staff were also polite but they were adamant that we could not go except on our designated booked time ( to be sure our assistance would be there). Also that there were two parts to the train station - one for France/Europe and the other for within Switzerland.It was s little confusing.


Our journey back was considerably more stressful than I had anticipated - the bus number 65 was diverted to Place Republic and did not go to Gare de Lyon anymore. I didnt know this but using guesswork - we got to Bastille and walking along some of the way managed to catch up with the bus 65 and caught our Eurostar connection back to London in time. Parisian taxis are not usually accessible.

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March 4 2013 2 04 /03 /March /2013 17:35

I think I have blogged about fracturing my knee previously in October. Apart from having to get used to having support with transferring using hoists and 'banana' /transfer boards, I had to experiment and learn to use urinals and bedpanss when I am on my own. I am still squeamish about mentioning them but when you need to go, you have to go..and there wasn't always someone to hand to help me transfer.


However, it meant I had a chance to try out the products that I was selling. I love the design of the Uriwell, it looks cool. Here is a video showing you how it works




well, its great for the whole family. You can even get one for kids - however, its not so good if you're not a very mobile female. And certainly not if you need to sit at the edge of a wheelchair trying not to spill any. I am sure it would be fine for the male anatomy. It might even be okay for a female who can stand.




For women, there is also the slipper urinal. A white plastic urinal with rubber end cap for emptying, it is useful for bed or wheelchair use and is autoclavable to 135 degrees. It only holds up to 1 litre and you need a certain dexterity to be able to extricate it without spillage. From personal experience, you have to be extra careful when on a lurching train journey. But it does have the advantage for wheelchair users that if you are out and about and not sure how accessible toilet facilities are going to be, that it is portable and reasonably discreet.





  If you are laid up in bed a bed pan might be a better solution - to avold the likely possibility of spillage. I find that with some care, it can be used independently. You have to be quite adept in getting it under you but there is enough depth so that you can get it off from beneath you without getting your bed wet.



Would love to hear other people's views:-)

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December 20 2012 5 20 /12 /December /2012 13:54

Now winter fuel bills are not part of independent living equipment but many disabled and older people are stuck at home because of the weather.


So I thought it would be good to alert you to the fact you can have £130 off your winter electricity bill.


This is information from Paul Lewis' blog. ( read full details there).



You can read the details of each six and how to apply here


There is a Warm Home Discount helpline on 0845 603 9439

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December 19 2012 4 19 /12 /December /2012 18:02


Merry Christmas




Happy New Year!




all friends and customers!


Please look out


for our new online store coming next year!





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November 25 2012 1 25 /11 /November /2012 15:36

I've been quiet lately because I fractured my knee and ended up in hospital for a longish stay while they sorted out care for me to be safe at home.


This means I ve been using equipment that I ve never had to use to before- like a hoist, urinals, hospital bed and banana board with slipsheets.



I had an Oxford Midi with the sling. It took me sometime to get used to being hoisted but once I got used to the support workers hoisting me, I found it helpful. The hospital OT came out to show me how it should be used and what straps should be used.


As a result of needing to be hoisted, they also insisted I had a hospital bed. With a pressure relief mattress so that I wont get pressure sores. I'm sure they meant well but I ve never had pressure sores ever before and this mattress was such that I could not grip to move positions in bed.I asked for bed barriers and/or a monkey bar to help me move. They did but not before I started having muscle spasms due to sleeping in one position for a couple of weeks!


I was so happy when they finally took the mattress away, some people swore by them but I think it depends on the individual. I am able to move my limbs in bed and that mattress actually hampered me from relieving my muscles. My masseur says she thinks I have sciatica now and my GP says just to take pain killers. So just a bit of warning.



This is how the bed is set up now.

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September 11 2012 3 11 /09 /September /2012 01:02

Guest Blog : Soxon success


 Hello and my name is Robert, and it was suggested to me that I write my story of my troubles with getting socks on and I’m delighted to be able to tell you about my success with Soxon.


To give a little bit of background,  I’m 25 now but since I was born I’ve issues with my mobility and my Father often generically said I had a walking difficulties however the name of my condition is as yet unknown and fully confirmed though its being researched, but it is mostly associated/linked to a condition called Kingdenborough syndrome  but I’ve been told over the last 2 or 3 years by my Doctors that I only have many but not all of the listed symptoms and my recent wee heart condition has made things more unclear and less unlikely in their view it is indeed that condition.


Over my younger and teenage years, the ability to get up off the floor myself without assistance (whether that from a person or a chair/table/bed) waned and after that my way of bending down my leg to get my sock on mysteriously disappeared. I could - and still can to varying extents and soreness and fatigue levels – walk but these things were noticeable and important to bear in mind, I’ve never been that nimble and flexible.


With me not being able to get my socks on, it wasn’t a big issue in the wide scheme of things as I lived at home and if needed, my Mum could help me but in regards to personal pride and my independence therein developed an issue , if I was on my summer holidays from school or college and was wanting to sleep on later then my Mum would have to wake me up and put my socks on my feet. While I was grateful for the assistance, it wasn’t a long term solution.


soxon.pngI didn’t look for a solution admittedly at that point but luckily a scheduled meeting with an NHS OT (occupational therapist) came up with an idea, after explaining I had 1 or 2 issues. I was gifted free on the NHS a ‘soxon’ via the NHS  and after a little bit of practice, my ‘sock thing’ as we nicknamed it at home, gave me the last piece of the jigsaw in regards to my independence to getting changed. Often my shoes were trainers that were already tied but easy to slip on or if smarter shoes, they were usually slip on in style too as many are and the rest of the body I could do even if not always conventional as even now I’ll sit down and pull up my bottom half. 


To use, I fit the sock on the 'soxon' and put my foot in it and then pull up and it seamlessly fits on. There is a video below , though maybe not exactly the same implement: its certainly the same method.


I have now got 2 ‘soxons’ as I ordered another one incase I am wanting to shower in my wetroom during the day downstairs and then get changed again (say, I was going out for dinner and wanted to be fresh) and then I’d have one already downstairs and wouldn’t need to go upstairs (where the original one is kept in my sockdrawer beside my bed for the mornings) as stairs are the bane of my life, and also good to have a back-up one incase I lose one while away somewhere.


If you have issues bending down or other related issues, I’d thoroughly recommend what is a relatively simple invention as it’s taken a pair of socks of a worry off my mind, before I’d have to ask even childhood friends or my Mum, and that’s massive for me.  


Thanks for reading,


Robert Ryan/@Boab10 on twitter



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September 9 2012 1 09 /09 /September /2012 23:59


I said I would blog about this.This is a true story.


What do you do if you, a wheelchair user, were to drop a bag of cherries on the floor, and you were entirely on your own?


I was in a quandary. I did not want to squash all the cherries on the floor - which would happen if I moved. There would be an almighty mess. With my grabber, I managed to get hold of a broom (luckily situated within reach with a grabber) and swept most of the cherries from under the wheel. But inevitably, some got crushed. I used some wipes at the end of the grabber and managed to wipe the mess off and pick the crushed cherries, the juice  and stones up.


it was a long laborious process but I then picked up as many as I could and left the others in a corner for when someone else to come along to sweep up.





so hooray for having a grabber! I have several but this one was perfect for this job.

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September 9 2012 1 09 /09 /September /2012 23:37


This is reposted from a blog by Alistair Somerfield about TapCare which uses Near Field Communication to enable and control simple, affordable personalised care. go to the TapCare website to find out more.


http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-m-yuMtFmYxI/UEIxTA1ES_I/AAAAAAAAAFQ/ZsCqhi7-ff8/s1600/TapCare.jpgMy mother in law has regular carer visits every day.

At 7.30am, 12.00pm, 4.45pm and 9.30pm she is visited by 2 carers to assist her with bathing, and dressing and medications. We help look after her in terms of meals and social life.

Given our work and childcare, we cannot be around all the time so we need some way to confirm that things are OK and regular needs are being met.

This is why we have made a Tapcare clock.

TapCare clock
It's just a normal clock but we've stuck Near Field Communication tags to the back of it.

They're matched up to the times the carers should be attending.

If everything is OK, she just taps her phone on the clock at the right time.

We get a quick Tweet and know what's happening.

If things aren't OK: for example, if the carers are delayed or they have left something undone. Then she can just tap the Call Me tag which is near her in bed.

That tag sends a Text and Tweet to us.

What TapCare means
So TapCare is trying to make a balance between technology and personal life. We don't want to make the house and fittings even more medical-looking than now so hiding the tags in the clock is better.

It's also cognitively easier to remember and something the carers can remind her to do if she forgets.

Keeping in contact and maintaining independence are mutual things that need agreement from all of us.

TapCare works for us because it allows us to just build a telecare system that is simple and personalised to the needs of my mother in law



you might also want to read

Take personal control of care and health

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August 19 2012 1 19 /08 /August /2012 17:02

I was on the hunt for kitchen equipment that is useful and would not clog up the kitchen and reasonably priced. Like every person who cook, you can always find gadgets - food proecessors, blenders, bread makers, steamers etc. I have a small kitchen and I imagine most people  like to maximise existing work space in their kitchen.


Even when I cook with my PA and she clears up as I go along we quickly run out of work space. Today I asked her to help me make soup. Soup is one thing that I cant manage because of the hot liquid. There is a pot you can buy with a wire basket to help you drain vegetables without carrying the hot saucepan. However it is really not a good idea to boil vegetables, and you can use a slotted spoon for the same function. There is equipment to help you grip,grate and different types of knives.


It would be useful to ask about aids for visually impaired chefs and what they use to help them propare food. My favourite kitchen gadget is a thin flexible chopping board that I can carry without problem to the pot/stove.


I had this discussion with my PA about what we could have in the kitchen to help with independent living and we looked up on the catalogue - the trouble with all these gadgets is whether they would be used even if we had them. But my concession is using very light Chinese lacquer bowls to have my soup from. And the bowl is not at all hot to touch.


We then made soup.  She cut up the marrow, tomatoes, ginger.


Minced Pork, Tofu, tomatoes and marrow soup


500 gm minced pork (substitute beef or beefballs if wished)

1 small marrow cut up

2 tomatoes

Fried tofu

soya sauce to taste


Bring water to boil in saucepan, add minced pork/beef. Add the vegetables and then the tofu. bring back to boil. Put some soya sauce in a dipping dish and ladle into bowl.



This is very easy to the stomach and you can add rice or have it with bread or noodles.

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August 5 2012 1 05 /08 /August /2012 22:29

Sarah Rennie recently went to Oslo and she has videoed some of the journey. It s useful to get an idea of how she gets around in her trip abroad.


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Independent living campaigner, blogger, tweeter.
  • eleanor.ila@gmail.com Independent living campaigner, blogger, tweeter.