What is a caregiver wheelchair van?
Caregiver wheelchair vans were designed to improve affordability of wheelchair accessible vehicles. Many wheelchair users who always travel with a family member or caregiver may not require all the conversion features that are included in most side-entry wheelchair accessible vehicles. Caregiver vans eliminate some of these features without compromising the functionality or ease-of-use for the wheelchair user and the caregiver. Eliminating these features also helps to reduce the cost of ownership over time with less maintenance and repair requirements. Here are some ways a caregiver wheelchair minivan may differ from other wheelchair accessible minivans:
- Manual ramp instead of a power (or automatic) ramp
- Manual sliding door instead of a power (or automatic) sliding door
- No power kneeling suspension
- Driver and front passenger positions not wheelchair accessible
What are the best caregiver wheelchair vans?
We evaluated several wheelchair caregiver vans based on the following criteria: ease of use, space and maneuverability, and customizable options. Here are the vehicles that earned our top spots.
1. BraunAbility CompanionVan
The BraunAbility CompanionVan is built on the Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Voyager. It is a side-entry wheelchair van that is accessible in the mid-row only. The front row is not modified for accessibility during the conversion. The conversion comes standard with an easy-to-use manual fold-out ramp with an easy-lift handle. However, you do have the option to upgrade to a power ramp. Speaking of options, you can also customize the CompanionVan by adding a mid-row Flip-and-Stow seat as well as a third-row foot rest.
2. VMI Northstar E
The VMI Northstar E is built on the Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Voyager. It is a side-entry wheelchair accessible van with a manual in-floor ramp. The ramp is very easy to use, as it glides in and out without requiring the user to bend over or lift. Because it has an in-floor ramp, you’ll find more unobstructed interior space in the Northstar E than other caregiver wheelchair vans. The front passenger seat is also accessible in this conversion. This conversion can also be customized with a mid-row jump seat; however, there is no option to upgrade to a power ramp
3. BraunAbility Manual Rear-Entry
The BraunAbility manual rear-entry is built on the Chrysler Pacifica and Chrysler Voyager. It is a rea-entry wheelchair accessible minivan with a fold-out ramp. The second and third rows o the vehicle are wheelchair accessible; however, the driver and front-passenger positions are not accessible. The wheelchair user enters and exits the vehicle from the rear and requires limited maneuverability to get positioned in the vehicle. Unlike in a side-entry vehicle, in a rear-entry vehicle the wheelchair user is able to pull straight in and reverse straight out.
Need help deciding which of these caregiver wheelchair vans will be the best fit for your needs? Connect with a mobility consultant!