If you require a manual or a powered wheelchair there are many different ways to purchase your chair. You may look at being referred to the NHS or you may decide to privately purchase. We have collated information below on the different avenues you can use to obtain a wheelchair.
- NHS funded: The NHS pays for the entirety of the wheelchair including managing any repairs of maintenance work that is needed. This process with involve a referral to the local NHS wheelchair service who will complete an assessment and prescribe the most appropriate chair. You will be unable to choose which chair will be provided to you; the chair provided will be based on your needs as assessed by the clinician.
Personalised wheelchair payment
There are two main options available
Partnership: You get provided a voucher for the basic cost of a wheelchair and use this voucher within the NHS services. You can choose an NHS chair from a slightly wider range and pay the difference in expenses. The chair in this situation would still be the property of the NHS who will complete repairs and maintenance.
Independent: You receive a voucher for the cost of the chair, together with some extra money to cover the maintenance and purchase a chair outside of the NHS services. An independence payment can be used with a private wheelchair company; however, the NHS wheelchair service will need to approve the chair you are purchasing prior to the money being released. All repairs and maintenance will need to be covered independently.
The amount you receive will be based on the cost of the wheelchair the NHS would have provided you, if you were going down the NHS funded route. Which wheelchair you would have been provided with is based on an assessment by a clinician looking at postural and mobility needs. It is important to be aware that suppliers provide the NHS with wheelchairs at a much lower cost due to the volume of orders, and therefore the amount of money the NHS provide you with will not be as high as the standard retail value for the chair.
- Access to work: If a wheelchair is provided to enable access to a work environment then the access to work scheme can be used. This is a government scheme which provides a grant to anyone in paid employment or due to start a job. An assessment is undertaken to look at your needs and the costs or practical support in the workplace. If you are on certain benefits you may not be eligible, such as: Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance, Severe Disablement Allowance, Income Support and National Insurance credits
In addition, if using the personalised wheelchair payment provided by the NHS they can link in with Access to work and share the cost of the wheelchair when appropriate.
Charities: There are a range of charities that can assist with wheelchair funding provision. Applications will be made and reviewed by a board, just because you are rejected by one charity does not mean you cannot apply for other. Charities can help cover the cost of a whole chair or help cover the additional costs of a chair when using a personalized wheelchair payment. You have the option to apply and be funded by multiple charities if you are unable to receive the required amount from one charity.
Some charities ask for a report by a Physiotherapist or Occupational Therapist to ensure they are providing funding for a suitable chair, if this is the case it is important to work with a company who has a clinician available to complete a wheelchair assessment and write a report for you. It can take time to get an answer from a charity about funding, they have a number of enquiries to go through and some charities will only hold a board meeting every few weeks or every month about funding decisions.
Motability scheme: If you receive a higher rate mobility allowance (such as the Enhanced Rate of the Mobility Component of Personal Independence Payment or the Higher Rate Mobility Component of Disability Living Allowance) you can apply for motability and use this allowance towards either a car, scooter, or wheelchair. This basically means your are exchanging your weekly mobility allowance towards leasing a vehicle or wheelchair. Payments are paid directly from the Department of Work and Pensions to motability.
The lease is generally 3 years, this will cover all maintenance costs etc. You cannot have more than one lease agreement; therefore you cannot lease a car and a wheelchair at the same time.