If I Use a Wheelchair, How Can I Care for Patients with Contact Precautions?
If you are a student, is the nursing program willing to accept your theoretical knowledge of the skill and a learning laboratory demonstration of your competence, in lieu of actually carrying out the skill in the clinical setting? For many students, not just those with disabilities, catheterizing a male patient or inserting a nasogastric tube are approached in that way because simulated, theoretical activities still allow the student to meet program objectives when few opportunities exist to complete the skill in the clinical setting.
A second approach is to disinfect the wheels of the chair and spread a bed sheet over the wheelchair (“gown” the chair as well as the nurse) before entering the room. Discard the sheet, along with the other protection, and repeat the disinfectant when leaving the room. Or you could leave a facility wheelchair in that room, transferring into it upon entry and out of it when you leave the room.
Although they can safely complete the task, most nurses using wheelchairs will choose to work at a job or in a setting where this activity is not necessary. See how one nursing student using a wheelchair adapted to situations like this in the film entitled Open the Door, Get ‘Em a Locker. In addition, here are some specific suggestions on organizations and resources to increase your awareness about your rights and responsibilities:
- For protection, advocacy, and legal assistance, contact your state National Disability Rights Network. Be sure to click on your state so that you get relevant and timely information. Also check out your rights under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- Please explore our website for resources in regard to education, advocacy, and work. For assistance with the ADA, contact the Americans with Disabilities Act Technical Assistance Centers. Learning about the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 will help you to understand how the ADAAA broadens coverage for many individuals.
- Connections with people with disabilities in your community, contact your local Center for Independent Living.
- Information about how to get a job, contact State Vocational Rehabilitation Program or the Job Accommodation Network.
Disclaimer: The National Organization of Nurses with Disabilities (NOND) does not offer legal advice but NOND does offer resources to help you understand your rights, protections, and responsibilities within various Disability Rights Laws.