Wheelchair Safety in Preschool Classrooms

There are many reasons why a preschooler may be in a wheelchair or motability scooters.  Muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, cerebral palsy and paralysis are just some such reasons.  Teaching staff not only need to be sensitive to the many conditions that may be the reason why a child is in a wheelchair but they also need to be trained in wheelchair use and safety.

 Arranging the Room

 The child in the wheelchair or motability scooters still needs to access all areas of the classroom, so careful consideration needs to be given to the layout of the classroom so that the wheelchair bound child can easily make use of the tables, play areas and toilet without hindrance.  It is very important that enough space is created for easy manoeuvrability of the motability scooters but also equally important is ensuring that the walkways remain uncluttered and you will achieve this only by training the other children to consider the wheelchair at all times.

 Manual Wheelchairs

 When a child is in a manual wheelchair or motability scooters, staff must be aware of the importance or ensuring that the wheel locks are engaged to prevent the wheelchair from moving unintentionally.  This simple step will prevent the motability scooters from bumping into anyone or anything and ensures that the chair doesn’t roll away from the activity.  You may also find it prudent to teach the other children how to engage the wheel locks but you must ensure that the children must always have adult supervision.

 Electric Wheelchairs

 Different safety measures need to be employed for children in motability scooters, the speed should always be set to slow as this will allow the child to move around the classroom safely with little risk to them injuring themselves or someone else.  For the safety of everyone on the classroom it is imperative that the child is trained on how to manoeuvre the chair slowly around the room, however, it is crucial to remember that the child must always be supervised by an adult as accidents can and do happen.

 Movement and Lifting

 Training needs to be given to all staff on how to move the child in and out of the chair.  Some children will have been taught how to do this for themselves, however even these children will often require assistance form an adult but is important to only give assistance when asked as it is important to the child to gain a level of independence.  Be absolutely sure that the wheel locks are engaged before the child moves out of or in to the chair.

 Transportation

 When wheelchair bound children are being transported to a preschool program by bus or van it is necessary the driver has been trained thoroughly on how to adequately move and secure the wheelchair.  It is important that formal training is provided and that the driver has been tested on their competency of securing children in wheelchairs. It is also very useful to ensure that the driver has been trained in the basic functionality of the motability scooters including locking the wheels and basic manoeuvrability.