Published: 24th August 2015
Author: Acceleris

Mobility Company Perspectives

I work for a small mobility company and see the deficiencies in the NHS wheelchair service on a daily basis. In my experience there seems to be three main problems which seem to be;

  1. The wheelchairs provided by the NHS to the majority of people I see are heavy, uncomfortable and impractical to use. Often they are too heavy for the carer/ partner to lift- for some reason this is never taken into account at the assessment. Elderly carers are often expected to lift & propel manual wheelchairs capable of carrying people up to 20st. Power packs that fit to manual chairs are available at a cost of around £600- £800 but are not provided by the NHS. We often receive referrals from the NHS to supply and fit products of this kind, at the client’s expense.
  2. Delays in the wheelchair service can lead to long waiting times- usually several months depending on which trust is providing the chair. Many of the chairs we sell are to clients who are in urgent need of a wheelchair, or are unhappy with the one they have been given. The NHS chairs often sit unused due to their sheer unsuitability.
  3. There seems to be little or no provision for people in residential care. I have recently heard heartbreaking stories of seriously ill people who are stuck in hospital/ nursing home beds because their relatives cannot afford the £1000-£2000 needed for a tilt in space armchair or wheelchair.

Just last Saturday a gentleman came in and told me that the nurses could not feed his mum because they were unable to sit her in the correct position in the bed/ chair available. We can provide these chairs if there is funding but they still take about 4 weeks to order in. This lack of provision often means that people who have very little quality of life cannot even be taken out of their rooms at all. This is very sad, most people with serious or terminal illnesses would take such joy of being taken out to sit in the sunshine once in a while. There is also, of course, a higher risk of pressure sores if the person is sitting in an unsuitable chair.

Fortunately many charities step in to provide funding for chairs, especially for children. The clientele that seems to be the least covered by the charities are the elderly and the adults who can walk but have very limited mobility. Sufferers of specific diseases such as MND and Muscular Dystrophy can often obtain funding from their relevant associations.

One thing that I find frustrating is when I receive an order for a  single wheelchair at full price that has come from an NHS organisation- with the buying power that this possesses it should be able to source wheelchairs at considerably reduced prices!




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Categories: Experiences