People with degenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and the parents of children who use wheelchairs are increasingly inquiring about non-standard wheelchairs, according to one mobility retailer based in Warwick.
Wenman Healthcare has noticed a growing need for non-standard wheelchairs which tailor to the user’s needs far greater than standard wheelchairs.
Catering for this increase in demand is challenging but the business said that major mobility manufacturers are proving useful in helping retailers to meet customers’ needs.
Charlotte Wenman from the company explained that if the firm is building a chair from the ground up it works with manufacturers to assess what is possible.
“A good example of this is Sunrise Medical ‘Built 4 Me’ feature. We are talking to major manufacturers at a technical level almost every day. Our team at Wenman Healthcare include university-trained engineers; and have worked within the NHS Wheelchair Services and a number of the larger specialist suppliers.”
The funding structure for NHS wheelchairs is changing soon with a new ‘personal wheelchair budget’ system replacing the current voucher system. Wenman Healthcare said it is “awaiting development” to see how it will impact on the business in the long and short term.
The company has noticed some customers who are using crowdfunding or a combination of a wheelchair vouchers and self-funding to purchase their equipment.
Wenman said: “This is a great help as it means the user is not limited to the very limited selection offered by the NHS. There are so many different types of wheelchair which can suit an individual’s needs better than what is commonly on offer.”
Across the industry there is a growing trend of people self-funding their wheelchair purchases. Some people believe the stretched NHS is unable to provide people with appropriate equipment and as such private retailers are stepping in.