When it comes to powered wheelchairs, you must always consider funding. Due to the nature of powered wheelchairs, they are expensive. However, that certainly doesn’t mean you cannot get one. Far from it. There are a vast number of provisions for users to obtaining powered wheelchairs, you just need to dig a little deeper and do your research. The NHS offers wheelchair services and crowdfunding has proved an ever-popular method for gaining powered wheelchairs in the past. For those unsure of wheelchair funding, we’re sharing how you can get a powered wheelchair.
Firstly, check the wheelchair services available through the NHS. You must speak to your GP regarding your needs to help them identify your current level of mobility and, therefore, the urgency of powered wheelchairs. It’s important to note that each locality may be different, so you must check the criteria and waiting times for the powered wheelchairs. The NHS will only refer those who have long-term issues – generally, more than six months – for the powerchairs as an aid for mobility and independence.
Once you have been referred by your GP, your need for the powered wheelchairs will be assessed. Typically, they will not provide a powered wheelchair for those that can walk short distances, but this may depend on the various circumstances of your disability. They may also be unlikely to provide powered wheelchairs if you are able to use a manual wheelchair. Again, we suggest speaking to your local GP and reading up on the wheelchair services as to if you meet the criteria.
If you do meet the criteria, a mobility engineer may custom build powered wheelchairs to your requirements, and carry out an assessment of your home for the specifications. They must ensure that your home is suitable to manoeuvre in the powerchair, and that you have the correct storage and charging facilities.
The NHS will then offer the provision of powered wheelchairs through these methods:
- A powerchair supplied to the user that meets all needs identified through the assessment, fully funded, maintained and repaired by wheelchair services.
- Wheelchair funding through the NHS may also be available in the form of a voucher, allowing you to top-up and purchase powered wheelchairs that suit your requirements. This voucher will also cover any maintenance and repairs.
- Again, a voucher for the appropriate powerchair, but with a contribution towards the repairs and maintenance. You can top-up and purchase a wheelchair for your needs, but you own the powerchair. Wheelchair services will also advise on reputable suppliers.
- The voucher can, in some cases, be used to rent powered wheelchairs long-term.
If the NHS agrees to fund the powered wheelchairs, they will, likely, provide accessories and customisable features for your powerchair in an effort to improve comfort.
For those that fail to meet the wheelchair services criteria, the next option is to privately purchase the chair. Of course, that can prove costly so there are options you can take to help reduce costs.
If you have been diagnosed with a long-term disability, you are eligible for VAT relief. Essentially, you will not be charged VAT on any powered wheelchairs or products that have been designed and adapted for your needs. Similarly, you won’t be charged VAT on:
- Installation and any additional measure for your chairs
- Repairs or maintenance
- Spare parts, customisable features and accessories
You will need to confirm in writing that you have a physical or mental impairment that affects your ability to carry out daily activities or that you are terminally ill, to meet the criteria. More information on VAT relief can also be found on the Gov.uk website.
The Motability scheme is another option for obtaining powered wheelchairs. The scheme is operated by Mobility Operations – a registered charity – and enables those with disabilities to lease a powerchair in exchange for their mobility allowance. To be eligible, you need to receive one of the following allowances:
- Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance (HRMC DLA)
- Enhanced Rate Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment (ERMC PIP)
- War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement (WPMS)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment (AFIP)
More info on the Motability Scheme can be found here.
If you would like to trial your powered wheelchair before buying, you can contact local suppliers to do so. Similarly, look for your local equipment demonstration centre that offers the opportunity to try out a range of essential equipment. There are several around the country, and local authorities will alert you to the nearest centre.
Access to Work
The Access to Work grant is available for those that have physical or mental disabilities that make it hard to complete your job. Before you do apply for the Access to Work grant, however, you must speak to your employer about any reasonable adjustments they can do to ease you back into the workplace. If you do need help through the grant, you must have a paid job, be about to start or return to your previous role to qualify. If you do, you will be offered support based on your requirements. For instance, the Access to Work rant can pay for:
- Any special equipment, adaptations or support to help you work
- Help to get to and from work
Charity funding is another great option for help in gaining powered wheelchairs. The Disability Grants’ website actually lists charities and trusts that may help with funding towards your necessary equipment and or chair.
Hiring powered wheelchairs
There are a number of organisations that will help in loaning a powered wheelchair for a short period. For instance, you may require electric wheelchair hire for a holiday or long journey. Similar to hiring a vehicle, for example, there will, likely, be a delivery cost and deposit included. This option is excellent for those looking to try various powerchairs before purchase, but you must speak to the supplier regarding specifications and dimensions. It’s important that you know what you require before hiring a powered wheelchair.
If you require powered wheelchairs for better access to town and city centres, you could look into Shopmobility services. Similar to that of the above electric wheelchair hire, this service can offer help with daily activities such as travelling and shopping. Anyone who considers themselves to have issues with mobility – due to short of long-term disability – are eligible.
Ultimately, there are many options available for powered wheelchairs. If you would like to discuss further, you can get in touch with our team today and we’ll share advice on where to buy your chair.