<p> 	Jamie is 18 and is about to leave Craig Y Parc School (September 2013). He says his life has changed completely since he’s been at the school. He remembers being so shy and unconfident when he first arrived that he wouldn’t speak. Now he’s a talented actor, writer and musician and about to go to drama college to continue his dream to be an actor</p>

“As an experienced wheelchair user, I know that choosing and buying a powered wheelchair is a crucial decision and it’s important to get it right first time.”

Rica, the consumer research charity, has published a new guide called Getting a powered wheelchair: a guide to help you choose – available free online and in print. The guide was written and published by Rica in partnership with the following national disability charities: Disability Rights UK, Muscular Dystrophy UK, Scope, Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) and Whizz-Kidz.

The guide provides unbiased and practical information about:

  • paying for a powered wheelchair, including funding options
  • getting assessed for and how to find out about products on the market
  • types and features of powerchairs

It also provides real life stories by powered wheelchair users and a list of useful organisations that can provide further information and support.

Dr Phil Friend OBE and Rica Trustee said: “As an experienced wheelchair user, I know that choosing and buying a powered wheelchair is a crucial decision and it’s important to get it right first time. There are no independent product tests, meaningful reviews or simple guidance to help people through this daunting and often confusing process. Services and support vary depending on where you are, what you need and what funding is available. With more than 300 models available, getting the right one to suit individual needs is vital and this where the new Rica guide can help.”

The guide was written following a national survey of powered wheelchair users in 2014 by Rica. The survey of 374 powered wheelchair users found that disabled people and their families often struggle to:

  • Locate relevant information about funding options – 48% didn’t get the right information
  • Make an informed choice about provision – over a third (37%) get no assessment
  • Get value for money when buying and maintaining their powered wheelchair- 32% had to fund their own powered wheelchair completely themselves with a quarter (26%) being turned down for NHS funding.

Powered wheelchairs have the potential to help many disabled adults and children to be more independent and the correct supportive seating can promote good posture reducing the need for future medical interventions.

Rica’s guide has been published following three recent developments in wheelchair services:

  1. My Voice, My Wheelchair, My Life is an online campaign which aims to transform wheelchair services for users and their families
  2. The Right Chair, Right Time, Right Now campaign aims to raise awareness of issues in wheelchair services: “There are around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, roughly two per cent of the UK population, and whilst some people receive a good service too many have to wait too long for a wheelchair or to receive a wheelchair that is suitable for their needs”
  3. CECOPS, an independent social enterprise that aims to raise the standard of wheelchair services has introduced comprehensive standards and accreditation guidelines.

To find out more and read the guidance, visit the website HERE

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