Consumer research for older and disabled people

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Getting assessed for a powered wheelchair

Getting assessed for a powered wheelchair

If you have non-specialist needs or are an experienced user who knows what you need, you can specify the right powered  wheelchair for yourself.

If you're new to all this, you’ll require professional advice.

Postural Support
If you need postural support, get advice from an Occupational Therapist (OT) or other seating specialist. Your local NHS Service may advise you and may provide postural seating even with a privately purchased wheelchair.

A woman outside her home, preparing top enter a WAV using a powerchair.A professional assessment will consider:

  • your support needs (specialist seating, harnesses and supports)
  • your capabilities (setup, operation and maintenance)
  • your lifestyle (how you will use it, cars and public transport, leisure activities)
  • your environment (storage and charging, inside and outside your home).

See also Your needs.

Getting assessed by an OT

Some wheelchair users will be assessed by:

  • OTs in schools
  • OTs at specialist medical units eg spinal injury units, neurological units

Some Wheelchair Services will provide a chair to this specification, though some won’t. Most will need to do their own assessment and none will supply equipment that doesn’t meet their criteria.

If you feel you aren’t getting the support you need from NHS or school OTs, you can hire your own. You will have to pay.

Finding a Private OT

The British Association of Occupational Therapists and College of Occupational Therapists can help you find an independent OT:

College of Occupational Therapists, Specialist Section, Independent Practice
College of Occupational Therapists, Specialist Section, Independent Practice

United Kingdom

Tel: 

0207 9890681

Going for Independence also have a list of Private OTs:

Going for Independence
Tel: 

01287 204204

Getting assessed by an equipment supplier

A reputable equipment supplier can advise you on the range of products they supply and whether they are suitable for your needs.

They consider:

  • your environment and lifestyle
  • where you'll use the powered wheelchair and how
  • other things like battery range, charging,transport and storage
  • extra features like raising seats.

Bear in mind that they will not recommend anything from outside their range and that they may try to persuade you to pay for features you don’t really need. If you’re researching a powered wheelchair for private purchase, a charitable grant, an Access to Work grant or an NHS voucher purchase this can be a good way of finding out what’s available.

Last updated: April 2015


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