Supermarket praised for adopting shopping cart catering for elderly and disabled

Drew Ann Long was having a difficult time taking her daughter with special needs out with her on errands - so she ...

Drew Ann Long was having a difficult time taking her daughter with special needs out with her on errands - so she invented the Caroline's Cart.

An east Auckland supermarket has been praised for supporting customers with special needs by adopting a unique shopping trolley. 

New World at Eastridge Shopping Centre in Orakei is the first of New Zealand's major supermarket chains to offer the Caroline's Cart.

The Caroline's Cart is a specialised shopping trolley that features a large, front-facing seat with a built-in harness, designed to accommodate a person up to 115 kilograms. 

This means parents and caretakers can transfer a wheelchair-user into the cart, regardless of their age, so that the parent or caretaker does not have to manoeuvre both a shopping trolley and a wheelchair while shopping.

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New Zealand Human Rights Commission human rights advisor Erin Gough said the Caroline's Cart would make a huge difference for people with mobility issues, their families and their carers.

"We hope other organisations follow their lead," she said. 

For Orakei resident Kran Radford and her 30-year-old daughter with mobility issues the Caroline's Cart has been a "lifesaver" during trips to the supermarket.

"I was unable to push a wheelchair and a shopping cart at the same time - so I had to pay a caregiver to sit in the car with my daughter," Radford said.

"I would be terrified my daughter would have a seizure sitting in the car, without me there," she said.

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"The whole supermarket experience was an extremely stressful dash and grab - most of the time I did not even look at what I was buying.

"Now my daughter can be involved in the shopping experience, which she loves," Radford said. 

Radford said the cart is also perfect for the elderly and she wished all supermarkets had the cart available.

Although New World is a supermarket chain, each store is individually owned and operated - so the respective owner makes decisions on initiatives such as the Caroline's Cart.

Eastridge New World general manager Chris Hart said customer feedback had been "extremely positive".

"I would recommend all supermarkets invest in a Caroline's Cart - the community loves to see that we are catering for everyone," he said. 

Alabama resident Drew Ann Long invented the Caroline's Cart for her daughter Caroline.

Caroline, who suffers from Rett syndrome, had outgrown the child's seat in the traditional shopping cart and Long was eager to find something that would help her include her daughter in her errands.

Long said she could not believe the Caroline's Cart was available in New Zealand.

"I have not really even heard of Auckland - it is very humbling to know that my invention is changing lives on the opposite side of the world," Long said.

The carts are widely distributed around the United States, in stores such as Walmart and Target, and are slowly becoming available in Australia and New Zealand. 

Each Carolyn's Cart costs US$850 (NZ$1100).

 - Stuff

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