Much to everyone’s surprise, my dad not only survived his transfer from the west coast to a nursing home on the east coast, but he thrived. It wasn’t long before I began looking for ways to get him out and about — not just to doctors, but so that he could get to know the area around the home and have at least a bit of the sense of freedom that he had had when living at home.
Getting him in and out of the car back when he lived on the west coast had been a frightening and precarious business. I’d been bruised a lot in the process, and the picture of my dad (six feet tall, 220 pounds) clinging precariously to a swinging car door haunted me even in my sleep. And, of course, by the time he came east, his body was even less cooperative than it had been out west.
So I had a Multi-Lift installed in my car. Using a sling and a power-activated arm to lift my dad, we were able to get him in and out of the passenger seat of the car without any risk of falling.
The system consists of a bracket mounted in the car, with a power supply that’s usually wired into the car’s battery (although the existing dashboard socket may suffice), a lifting arm, a sling, and a maybe an extension or two (depending on the type of vehicle). The photo on the left shows the lifting arm, which can also be used to raise a wheelchair into place.
When we went out, I grabbed an extension piece, placed it on the bracket in the car, and put the lift arm on top of that. Then I slipped the sling around Dad, brought the front extensions up under his thighs, and we attached them to the arm. Using a control attached to the arm, I raised Dad in the sling (right, laid out flat) until he was out of the wheelchair and just above the auto seat. Then I pushed the lift arm sideways to manipulate him into the car. Using the control, I lowered him onto the seat.
The lift must be stowed while driving, so there’s a fair amount of hauling stuff back and forth to and from the car trunk, and it was relatively physically stressful for someone of my size to move someone of my dad’s size around, but the Multi-Lift did the trick when nothing else would.
There’s no way my dad could have travelled in a car without it — unless he had a burly and devoted attendant with him at all times. It was invaluable right up until his muscles stiffened too much to use it anymore, and a van became essential.
For someone with known long-term needs, brackets for the Multi-Lift can also be installed in the home. Wall brackets allow transfers from wheelchair to easy chair or bed, and extension arms can allow transfer from a wheelchair in a hallway into a bathroom. A bathing sling is available.