Published: 9th July 2015
Author: Acceleris

Commissioners need to plug the ‘whole-of-life’ gap


Increasingly it strikes me that there’s a gap between prescribing chairs for clinical need, and prescribing chairs for what we might call ‘the whole of life’.

Every time I travel – by car, train, bus (or, just last week, river-bus) – I thank my lucky stars that I’ve got my trusty steed. For me personally, the key thing with a chair, apart from fit, is weight. Being able to get the chair in and out of the car without hurting myself, and being able to get on and off trains and buses easily, mean I can do the things I need, or want, to do.

At my local Wheelchair Services, they couldn’t supply a chair any lighter than the one I had arrived in. In fact, they offered me a new chair exactly like the one I was having difficulty sitting in. So that wouldn’t have helped at all, and I took the voucher and bought a chair from an independent supplier. Of course, I’m lucky to be able to afford to upgrade. For lots of people, that isn’t an option, and they end up with the wrong chair. It might get them from A to B, but what if they want to get to K, or Z?

With the wrong chair, users are more likely to be stuck at home; socially isolated; dependent on carers and benefits; and potentially depressed.

With the right chair, users can be what and where they want to be: at work; at college; at the pub; looking after themselves; socially or politically active; or out and about on a river-bus.

Commissioners, you need to ensure that Wheelchair Services can provide chairs that go beyond addressing just ‘clinical needs’. It makes sense, financially and socially, to provide chairs that address the ‘whole-life’ needs of users.



Fiona Carey
Patient Leader & Member of the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance

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Categories: Commissioning