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Trouble with a Wheelchair Technician

Katherine HaywardKatherine Hayward Member Posts: 74
edited October 2014 in Disabled people
Those of you who use wheelchairs. Back in November, I got to try out some powerchairs and when I left the shop the technician said he would email me so I could try my cushion accessories which I was unable to try on the day I tried the chairs as he didn't have them. I sent him 2 emails and he's not replied to either. When I was there with him last he seemed irritated at the fact I haven't just taken the plunge and bought what I needed , as he emailed me a quote. Truth is (and any person who acts logically would do this) I need to try things first, and still haven't saved enough money to buy the chair and the cushion
accessories outright. Due to access at our apartment I can't easily get out to his shop and so he tends to come over if I need to try something or if he has to assess me. He's been
very good and understanding about this for the past 3 years until the last time I saw him , when he insinuated he didn't want to come to my apartment anymore. This makes me and my fiancé feel really cheated, used and disappointed. It is almost like if we don't buy the chair outright from him quickly then he's not interested. I know from experience that technicians get a commission for what they sell, and the commission would be more for a wheelchair with all the extras I need than just a chest harness and a new cushion and cushion cover and some positioning pads for inside the cushion.
Could he just be in it for the commission?


Replies

  • Katherine HaywardKatherine Hayward Member Posts: 74
    edited October 2014
    I just thought I'd post an update on this post, now almost a year has gone by and he has not returned my calls or emails. Also, now my control is in really bad shape and turns itself on and off, the power button has completely come out of its perforated hole in the plastic, and the chair stops dead in its tracks. I have a Quickie Rumba at the moment. I am now in touch with a different wheelchair shop, who are trying to figure out what to do.
  • milomilo Member Posts: 164 Pioneering
    Sorry to hear about the problems you've had. Have you contacted Quickie? There is usually some kind of manufacturer warranty.
  • Katherine HaywardKatherine Hayward Member Posts: 74
    edited March 2015
    Hi Milo, in the end, I ended up buying a new wheelchair control, because I have had the chair 8 years, and I'm not sure what warranty a control has, but cushions/ backrests have 2. years. Thanks for replying to my post. The technician still has not got back to me. I'm feeling like I need more help and advice than just a technician. Are physios qualified to help with new wheelchairs/ accessories? I was assessed by a physio and they gave me a chair that's totally unsuitable because it's a manual chair and I use a powerchair.
  • milomilo Member Posts: 164 Pioneering
    Not sure about in your area, but I was originally given a manual chair and was then reassessed for a power chair by the wheelchair services dept at the local hospital. I was referred to them by my physio. May be worth speaking to your physio and seeing what they can do.
  • Katherine HaywardKatherine Hayward Member Posts: 74
    Hi, Ok, thanks I'll try them again, I was also considering going through my OT maybe. Thing is, I've heard all sorts of things about wheelchair provision. My needs are very complex but I'll see what I can do. I have heard of people with complex needs being offered products that totally didn't meet their needs. How's it going with your chair? what model do you have? I need one with tilt in space, seat rise, adjustable footrests (all electrically adjustable) and a specialised control. Last time I tried, years ago mind you as I was put off by the fact they gave me a manual chair that's so basic I can't sit upright in it myself, and there's no way I can push it. I ended up having to get family to lend me money to buy a powerchair which is now in need of replacement, The reasoning the physio and technician from The Wheelchair service gave me at the time for not meeting my needs was "no money" and they gave me a photocopy of powerchair providers in my area. My family can't give me money anymore and I can't work, so my partner and I have been saving the money we do have for years to buy my chair. This isn't an ideal situation as it's stressful for the both of us. My wheelchair service is Oxfordshire. I totally don't see the point of them having given me a wheelchair that's no use to me. Perhaps a totally new assessment would be a good idea after all. I read that wheelchair services don't provide wheelchairs for outdoor mobility, is that right? If so I'm in a messy situation seeing as I need a powerchair for full time mobility inside and out. A standard powerchair won't do the trick for me. I know someone who works as an assistant at a special needs school and she told me she went to wheelchair services with the child she looked after who has complex seating and positioning needs like I do, and they only gave her a standard powerchair. I'm thinking, is it worth going through all that waiting to see wheelchair services for them to only prescribe a basic powerchair which I'll still have to spend money on to customise to my needs (if it's upgradable- I also read that some models they offer are not very customisable.) Hard to know what to do for the best. I need a powerchair that does more than just get me from A to B, and which wil last me.
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 128 Pioneering
    edited April 2015

    Hiya Katherine

    Usually the NHS will not provide powered wheelchairs for people they assess as only needing to use one outdoors, but if you need a power wheelchair inside the house as well it is likely that you will meet their criteria.

    It is difficult to predict what your local Wheelchair Service might offer you, as each Service sets it’s own criteria for eligibility. Because of limited budgets most Wheelchair services will only offer the cheapest/most basic wheelchair that meets the persons assessed needs.

    Some NHS wheelchair services offer a voucher scheme so that you can have more choice of wheelchair. You receive a voucher to the value of the chair you would have been offered after your assessment (which is determined locally in each individual case). You can then put the voucher towards the cost of a chair that you buy privately or in partnership with the NHS.

    Perhaps it would be worth contacting the Oxfordshire Wheelchair Service to enquire about their criteria and see if they offer the voucher scheme:

    Address:Windmill Road, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7LD.

    Tel: 01865 227273

    Email: [email protected]

    General information about obtaining an NHS wheelchair can be viewed at:

    http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/Pages/mobility-equipment-wheelchairs-scooters.aspx

    Alternatively, leasing a powered wheelchair through the Motability powered wheelchair scheme is an option for some people:
    http://www.motability.co.uk/scooters-and-powered-wheelchairs/



    Some people find that the power wheelchairs that meet their needs are not available from statutory sources so they turn to charity providers such as: http://www.mobilitytrust.org.uk/
    The grant search facility at:
    http://www.turn2us.org.uk/grants_search.aspx
    might help identify other potential sources of charitable funds.

    Hope that helps!

    -B x

  • Katherine HaywardKatherine Hayward Member Posts: 74
    Thanks for the charities, and the other information.
    Katherine.
  • Jean_OTJean_OT Member Posts: 528 Pioneering

    Hi Katherine

    I appreciate it has been a long time since you posted. However, I think the questions you asked is relevant to a lot people who are considering the best way to source a powerchair so I’m going to answer anyway.

    The first step for most people who need some support with mobility will be to ask their GP to refer them to their local NHS Wheelchair Service http://www.wheelchairmanagers.nhs.uk/services.html

    The Wheelchair Service can assess their needs and supply a wheelchair to those that meet the criteria of the Service. As things are, at the moment, people can normally only get a power wheelchair from the Wheelchair Service if they need it to get around indoors and outdoors. Also, as you point out, sometimes the Wheelchair Service will only offer the most basic wheelchair that they think meets the individual’s essential needs. However, the system is in a state of change, the wheelchair voucher scheme mentioned in Rose’s reply is in the process of being reviewed/replaced by Personal Wheelchair Budgets:  https://www.england.nhs.uk/personal-health-budgets/personal-wheelchair-budgets/

    In theory, when the new scheme is fully implemented you might be able to use it to get funding towards a wheelchair that meets your needs, as defined by you.

    There are potential risks involved in obtaining a wheelchair without a proper independent assessment, if the wheelchair is not appropriate to the person’s needs there may be resulting injuries or difficulties with posture. So whenever possible a proper independent assessment from a suitably qualified health professional should always take place to ensure that the correct model and size of wheelchair and any adaptations or seating inserts, are selected. Once the recommended equipment has been obtained the professional may need to adjust it. There may also be training needs, showing the person how to use the wheelchair safely and maybe showing those involved with their care how to position them correctly within the wheelchair etc.

    As you have discovered being assessed by a technician who is in the business of selling wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories is potentially problematic as they are not independent, they have a vested interest in you spending money on the products they sell.

    Therefore, I think that if someone is not being assessed by the local NHS Wheelchair Service because they are going down the private route, they should strongly consider paying for an independent assessment of their needs by an Occupational Therapist in independent practice: https://www.cotss-ip.org.uk/

    Wheelchairs can be expensive so sometimes people seek charitable grant funding. You can search for charitable funders at: https://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/search-grants

    Also, currently, there are other ways of obtaining a power wheelchair that may appropriate to some people’s circumstances, such as the Motability Scheme or Access to Work: https://www.scope.org.uk/support/disabled-people/equipment/wheelchairs

     

    Best Wishes

    Jean

    Jean Merrilees BSc MRCOT

    You can read more of my posts at: https://community.scope.org.uk/categories/ask-an-occupational-therapist

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