Today I got my wheels which is so much more exciting than when I passed my driving test. My new wheelchair is amazing. It’s smooth, fast, comfortable, adjustable in 101 ways, has purple rims… But most importantly it’s going to give me back some of my freedom (once the council have fitted an electric door opener so i can actually get out the building…).
HOWEVER it cost me £7000.
Until me and my sister got sick, I’d assumed that the NHS provided things like wheelchairs. How wrong was I?! Each NHS area is allowed to make up their own policy but for York, and other areas as far as I can tell, it’s ridiculous.
Can you safely self propel? No? You can’t have a manual wheelchair. Fair enough I guess, but having a transit chair would be better than no chair. At least then people could take me out.
Can you get around your home without needing a wheelchair? Yes? Then you can’t have an electric wheelchair. Even if you also can’t have a manual chair and can’t walk outside your home.
Yes. This is the head scratching, puzzled face moment. If my shoulders and hands were better I could get a manual chair. If my legs were worse I could get an electric one. But right now, I can’t have anything.
I’ve been lucky and borrowed my sisters old electric wheelchair for six months which means I’ve been able to continue working and having some kind of a life outside my flat. I also got given an old manual chair by one of my carers. She had it for a relative who passed away so it was no longer needed. This has meant I can go out with friends and carers on day trips, shopping, hospital appointments etc.
I was also lucky enough to inherit a little bit of money so have used up my savings to buy my electric wheelchair and a more suitable manual chair.
But I know that so many people won’t have had these resources and will be facing day after day stuck inside their home with no end in sight which is horrific.
If you’re having problems funding a wheelchair the main options seem to be Access to Work (you’ll be required to pay a proportion as will your employer) and charity grants (search http://www.turn2us.org.uk to find out what you can apply for).
If you’re concerned about the state of wheelchair services in Britain, you may like to visit Right Wheelchair and pledge your support.