We asked ... Nicole Seifert, BGW

"Safe mobility starts with the right choice and adaptation of the wheelchair"

Whether it’s a wheelchair or a walker – for people with disabilities, it is crucial to control their own mobility in a competent and safe manner. Yet not everyone truly feels confident in every situation with these assistive devices. That’s why REHACARE.com spoke with Nicole Seifert from the German Professional Association for Health Services and Welfare (German: Berufsgenossenschaft für Gesundheitsdienst und Wohlfahrtspflege), BGW, about ways to foster more trust in yourself and others.


Photo: Nicole Seifert; Copyright: BGW/in.signo

Nicole Seifert; © BGW/in.signo

Ms. Seifert, you were the "sicher mobil" (English: safe mobility) campaign ambassador. What was the campaign’s objective and to what extent is safety important in terms of mobility?

Nicole Seifert: "sicher mobil" was a prevention campaign by the German Professional Association for Health Services and Welfare (BGW) and the German Wheelchair Sports Association (Deutscher Rollstuhl-Sportverband), DRS. It intended to raise awareness for safe mobility for persons using a wheelchair and their environment and increase the respective know-how. The focus was on a person’s own mobility and the aspect of transportation. The campaign included seminars, trade fair presentations and political debates. We also published informative literature on the subject. The campaign finale took place at the REHACARE 2012.

When it comes to mobility, safety is important for everyone – regardless of whether a person uses their legs or a wheelchair. However, specific aspects play a role for wheelchair users. For them, safe mobility already starts with the right selection and adaptation of the wheelchair. In addition, they need to be able to handle the assistive device properly and invest a lot in their personal fitness. Those who need to remain in their wheelchairs during rides in a small van have a particularly high accident risk and should therefore be protected by a wheelchair and personal safety device that complies with DIN standards.

Even though the actual campaign has ended, seminars continue to be offered on the subject. Who do they address and what can a person learn from them?

Seifert: Together, BGW and DRS developed "sicher mobil" seminars that are geared towards employees in rehabilitation facilities and disability assistance services, as well as wheelchair users themselves. Participants experience how persons who use a wheelchair can be assisted with their mobility and fitness to live an independent life as much as possible.

The focus is on medical supplies, wheelchair techniques, and athletic activities, for example. Another topic is health-conscious assistance – ranging from giving a helping hand to transportation in motor vehicles. You can find more information about these in-house training seminars and other services centering on safe mobility for persons with disabilities on our website.
Photo: Female and male wheelchair users in a bus; Copyright: Josefsheim Bigge/Pedro Citoler

The project "Kompetent mobil" aims at supporting people with disabilities to be mobile as independent and safe as possible; © Josefsheim Bigge/Pedro Citoler

The "sicher mobil" campaign was succeeded by a project titled "Kompetent mobil" (English: competently mobile). What is this project about?

Seifert: Safe mobility is a particular challenge not only for wheelchair users but for all persons with disabilities – regardless of whether the impairments are physical, cognitive, sensory or psychological. Many people are dependent on promoting their personal, very individual mobility skills. This is what the "Kompetent mobil" project is all about. Together with the Occupational Rehabilitation Services Bad Wildbad ("Berufsförderungswerk Bad Wildbad") and the Josefsheim Bigge, the BGW and the DRS developed a training concept pertaining to this subject.

The "Kompetent mobil" concept fundamentally includes actual tutorials on safe mobility on foot, using a wheelchair, a bike or a hand bike, on the bus or train as well as using a car, motorcycle or an electric-assisted bicycle. The different tutorials are presented in a modular user guide and can thus be used by skilled employees who work with persons with mobility impairments. To determine a person’s individual need for assistance and choose appropriate training modules, a functional mobility assessment was also developed. Facilities can book special training courses for their experts to introduce them to the concept.

What does inclusion mean to you?

Seifert: To actively participate in life without having to plan too much.
More about the BGW (only in German) at: www.bgw-online.de
Photo: Nadine Lormis; Copyright: B. Frommann

© B. Frommann

Nadine Lormis
(translated by Elena O'Meara)