Wheelchairs & Mobility Aids
At Disability Watford, we are often contacted with requests for information about wheelchairs and mobility aids. With that in mind, we have created this page to help answer the most common questions we get asked. If you still have questions after reading this page, please feel free to contact us at email@example.com
Getting a wheelchair
Different types of wheelchair
Wheelchairs can be divided into two main categories: manual self-propelled wheelchairs and electric wheelchairs and scooters. We provide a short introduction below. ‘Which?’ also publishes useful buying guides on choosing a wheelchair and choosing a mobility scooter, that provide additional information.
With a manual wheelchair, you have to propel yourself. These wheelchairs have a larger back wheel and smaller front wheels. Then there are the Assistant/Transport Wheelchairs which have smaller back wheels and are intended to be pushed by someone else (the attendant/carer), for you. These types of wheelchairs can be purchased quite economically, starting from under a hundred pounds.
Extra powerpacks can also be purchased, which attach to the manual wheelchair and provide an additional set of smaller battery-powered wheels that help give extra propulsion for longer journeys or rough terrain. These powerpacks can, however, cost from a few hundred pounds to many hundreds. Also, these powerpacks only assist the attendant/carer who is pushing your wheelchair, and don’t take the place of an electric powered wheelchair or scooter.
Electric wheelchairs and mobility scooters have battery powered motors, and are given a classification (Class 2 or 3), by the Department of Transport:
- Class 2 products can only be used on the pavement and have a maximum speed of 4mph. Recipients aged under 14 are restricted to Class 2 products only.
- Class 3 products must be registered with the DVLA. They can travel up to 8mph, although must only be driven at 4mph on pavements.
If you are not entitled to one of these, and you still want one, then they can be purchased but they are normally thousands of pounds.
Purchase of Wheelchair and other mobility aids
If you have researched the options and are considering buying your own wheelchair, there are many places that provide this equipment.
With the feedback from our members over the years, Disability Watford only recommends one mobility shop who work in our area and that is Meadow Mobility 01442 865588. There are, however, there are many such suppliers along with other mobility aids, in addition to sellers on Amazon, eBay and other online marketplaces.
These are available along with many other mobility aids from some of the usual internet shops and auction websites and there many mobility shops out there. with the feedback from our members over the years Disability Watford only recommend one mobility shop who work in our Area and that is Meadow Mobility 01442 865588.
Long term wheelchair loan
Hertfordshire (NHS) Wheelchair Service
If you need a wheelchair long-term, for example, six months or more, then you may be entitled to loan one free of charge, or with some financial help, via your County Council’s Wheelchair Service, which is sometimes also referred to as the NHS Wheelchair Service. For Watford residents, this is covered by Hertfordshire County Council’s Wheelchair Service, provided by Millbrook Healthcare.
The Hertfordshire Wheelchair Service provides wheelchair equipment, assessments and support for children and adults who are registered with a Hertfordshire GP and who need to use a wheelchair long-term (normally six months or more) due to a disability, terminal illness or severely limiting medical condition.
Note, though, that you cannot get wheelchair equipment by contacting the Service directly – you’ll first need to be referred to this service by your GP, physiotherapist or hospital staff.
The Hertfordshire Wheelchair Service (Millbrook Healthcare) will then undertake an assessment with you to determine whether a wheelchair is needed and, if so, what type would be suitable.
The Service provides many types of wheelchair, some they have in stock and others they will have to order for you.
The Motability Scheme
The not-for-profit Motability Scheme allows people to hire a powered wheelchair, mobility scooter or car for up to three years. To qualify you must receive a government-funded disability allowance – either the Disability Living Allowance, if you already receive that particular benefit; or the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) if you are applying now. You will receive your wheelchair or mobility scooter in exchange for all or part of your allowance.
Anyone getting the enhanced-rate mobility component of the PIP can take part in the scheme, providing they have at least 12 months of the award remaining. The scheme is also open to people receiving the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement.
Short term wheelchair hire
For shorter term wheelchair hire, for example, following an operation or injury, there are several options.
The Shopmobility Scheme
Shopmobility is a charity set up to assist people with mobility difficulties – whether through disability, illness or injury – to continue to get around town and city centres.
If you only need a wheelchair or for a few Days then your best option is call your local Shop Mobility and in our case this is Shopmobility Watford (01923 211020).
Anyone who has problems with mobility can access shops and other services through the Shopmobility scheme. Shopmobility Watford has a large selection of battery powered scooters and wheelchairs for hire. You do have to sign up to be a member first, but after that, the service is free, as long as the equipment is taken and returned on the same day, during opening hours.
To sign up to the scheme, you must register, in person, at the Shopmobility office, and once registered you can book equipment for use. All equipment hire must be pre-booked in advance.
Red Cross wheelchair hire
The Red Cross provides short-term loans of mobility aids such as wheelchairs.
As the service is run by volunteers, the Red Cross asks for a donation, and may also require a refundable deposit. The nearest branch in the Watford area is the Croxley Green (Watford) Mobility Aid Service. Get in touch as early as you can, as the branch may have a waiting list.
Other wheelchair hire options
Many organisations may have wheelchairs available to hire, too. They are usually manual wheelchairs that are adequate for a short period of time whilst the organization’s services are being used, and need to be returned within a set time period the same day. You’ll need to phone ahead to reserve a wheelchair, as there’s often limited availability.
Aside from wheelchairs, there are many mobility aids that you may want to consider for indoor and outdoor use:
Walking (Zimmer) frames
Walking frames, also referred to as Zimmer frames, can be used indoors and outside and come in different heights and widths, normally without wheels.
Tri-walkers provide increased stability and support via a sturdy three-wheeled frame, that is normally provided with height adjustable handles, and additional storage space.
Rollators are walking aids that provide the most stability through a frame that is typically set on four wheels, compared with the three-wheeler tri-walkers. As with the tri-walkers, these can come in different size frames/wheels and can feature seating, brakes and basket/shopping bag/storage space.