Get wise to Accessing Wheelchair Services (Covid-19)

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Get wise to accessing wheelchair services (Covid-19) Providing continued access to your local wheelchair service. An overview of safety measures and Service User experience to support patient confidence during the coronavirus pandemic.

How have BHTA Wheelchair Service Providers responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

As the NHS has faced challenges during the Covid-19 Pandemic, the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has brought together several leading Wheelchair Service Providers to ensure the needs of wheelchair users are met during the pandemic. They have worked together to address wheelchair users’ problems relating to ongoing assessments, deliveries, service and maintenance.

What benefits have resulted from the BHTA bringing providers together?

They have been able to produce advice, guidelines and practical resources that benefit wheelchair provision at a national level. One such item is an interactive online map highlighting which wheelchair services were still operating following the redeployment of NHS staff across the health system. Additionally, they have developed detailed ‘back to work’ guidance that equips services in addressing demand whilst ensuring safety to service users and staff. It has also enabled service users to be confident that their provider is working to minimise risk. In particular, the guidance focuses on reducing the need for face to face interaction, as well as outlining recommendations on how best to implement technology to aid this. The publication also provides detailed best practice relating to the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and conducting repairs and maintenance.

What measures have BHTA providers put in place to ensure the safety of Service Users?

Extensive risk assessments have taken place to minimise risk in all aspects of the service. As part of this, a comprehensive range of measures have been developed to cover clinical assessment through to maintenance and repair. These include: • Developing remote services such as offering a telephone or video consultation. • Tailoring appointments to the individual. Each clinician will consider a persons’ individual needs ahead of co-ordinating their assessment to put an appropriate plan in place. • Making ‘contactless’ direct supply of equipment available where appropriate. 1


How has responding to the Covid-19 pandemic changed the way a person can be assessed for their posture and mobility needs?

By methodically implementing social distancing measures, certain aspects of assessment can continue undisrupted. However, significant changes have been made through the use of technology. Where the patient or family have access to the right device, virtual ‘e-consultations’ have been taking place with great success. As summarised in the above list, an individualised approach is taken to conducting each assessment and a comprehensive range of safety measures are in place. The BHTA would encourage individuals not to delay requesting an appointment or repair. Any concerns or special arrangements they may need can be discussed in advance.

• Interpreting government guidance on the use of PPE into easy to follow guidelines specifically for application within wheelchair services. • Creating practical guidelines for engineers and clinical staff to apply the principles of infection control. • Checking that patients and their households have not recently displayed Covid-19 symptoms before enabling access to clinics. • Ensuring safety measures are in place at the clinic waiting rooms to support social distancing. Some locations also facilitate visitors remaining in their car until the beginning of the appointment. • If people do not have their own face mask or gloves, these can be provided on arrival at the clinic. • Wheelchair repairs can be conducted outside of the home or other locations.


What are the potential risks for those who put off accessing the service?

The risks from the virus will remain for some time to come, however, with the measures taken these risks are being reduced to much lower levels. By putting off your appointment, you may be at risk of developing pressure problems or your posture deteriorating. Please continue to contact your wheelchair service for your needs to be addressed. In many cases you will not need to see someone face to face to discuss your needs. However, should you have any concerns about visiting, then this can be discussed in advance of your appointment. Another risk to consider is that wheelchairs are mechanical items, and like any vehicle requires regular maintenance to prevent faults developing. It is important that the equipment you rely on remains in good working order.


What has been the experience of those accessing the wheelchair service during the lockdown period? “[The e-consultation was] brilliant. Glad to be seen, no different, saves a big journey. [This service] needs to be kept. Appointments are very time consuming in getting ready and travelling there. With two disabled children video assessments are less stressful for me and them.”

Mansfield Wheelchair Service

“It was straight forward logging on. The process was clear, and it was nice to be seen quickly, seamlessly and effectively. Good to be listened to.”

Calderdale Wheelchair Service

“As there were two of you present on the visit (OT A in person and OT B in a virtual sense) I felt this worked very well. I benefited from having both sets of eyes and being able to ask questions to the both of you. I felt an increased level of confidence that only this one visit would be required as everything was so thorough and this was highly appreciated at the current COVID-19 times.”

Isle of Wight Wheelchair Service

How do I access NHS Wheelchair Provision?

NHS wheelchair service provision is accessed via a referral from a Healthcare Professional. This could be obtained through consultation with your GP or issued via a therapist that you work with.

If I have a question or concern about my local wheelchair service, what should I do? If you have their contact details, ask your local wheelchair service directly, or speak to your GP or therapist and ask them to find out for you.

Which areas are served by BHTA providers?

A comprehensive list of the providers, their areas and contact information can be viewed here: This document can be provided in large text format. Please call 020 7702 2141 to request a copy.


GET WISE TO ACCESSING WHEELCHAIR SERVICES (COVID-19) British Healthcare Trades Association Office 404 · Tower Bridge Business Centre 46-48 East Smithfield · London · E1W 1AW Telephone: 020 7702 2141 Email:


The BHTA is a trade association with members in healthcare and assistive technology, all of whom commit to the BHTA Code of Practice, the only one in this industry to be approved by The Chartered Trading Standards Institute. BHTA member companies operate to higher standards of customer protection than the law requires.

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