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July 2015 Powered wheelchairs

Press release                                                        July 2015

New guidance on getting a powered wheelchair

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.

“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.”

Dr Phil Friend OBE, Rica Trustee

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:

  • My Voice, My Wheelchair, My Life is an online campaign which aims to transform wheelchair services for users and their families.
  • 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” 
  • CECOPS6, an independent social enterprise that aims to raise the standard of wheelchair services has introduced comprehensive standards and accreditation guidelines.

Dr Jasper Holmes, Co-Director, Rica 020 7427 2463             jasperholmes@rica.org.uk
Chris Lofthouse, Outreach Manager, Rica  020 7427 2467  chrislofthouse@rica.org.uk


  1. Rica (Research Institute for Consumer Affairs) is a national research charity that works with older and disabled consumers to publish practical and unbiased information:  www.rica.org.uk
  2. The new guide Getting a powered wheelchair: a guide to help you choose is available online at: www.rica.org.uk/content/getting-powered-wheelchair. Funded with support from the Clothworkers’ Foundation and Motability, the guide is also available in print: send a large (A4) SAE with £1.19 in stamps to: Rica, Unit G03 the Wenlock, 50-52 Wharf Road, London N1 7EU.
  3. The Powered wheelchair user survey report 2014 is only available online at:
    Between April and July 2014 Rica surveyed 341 powered wheelchair users to identify views and experiences of choosing, funding and maintaining a powered wheelchair plus 23 people who had been unable to secure funding for a powered wheelchair.
  4. My Voice, My Wheelchair, My Life is a programme of work to transform wheelchair services for users and their families. See more at: http://www.nhsiq.nhs.uk/improvement-programmes/my-voice,-my-wheelchair,-my-life.aspx#sthash.qtQ2X6Wd.i8LbVXSO.dpuf
  5. The Right Chair, Right Time, Right Now campaign works to improve the quality and effectiveness of wheelchair services across England via the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance with 13 members including providers, charities, carers, wheelchair users, the NHS and industry. It has developed a Wheelchair Charter and highlight good practice: http://www.rightwheelchair.org.uk/
  6. CECOPS is an independent, not-for-profit, social enterprise, aiming to raise the standard of the provision of disability equipment including wheelchair services. CECOPS has a Code of Practice for all organisations and individual clinical professionals. It aims to ensure effective equipment provision which results in good clinical and financial outcomes keeping more people safe and independent in their own homes: www.cecops.org.uk