Tamcroft Villa, Lanchester Road Hospital, Lanchester Road, Durham, County Durham, DH1 5RD
I have used this particular wheelchair service on three occasions and have received two manual wheelchairs, but due to the nature of my disability which affects my muscles I am now a powered wheelchair user. My overall experience of this particular service is of a service with poor communication and care and of a service which at times often fails to meet the needs of its customers by providing them with unsuitable equipment. Whilst my first manual wheelchair from this service allowed me to access places more freely than before, my second manual wheelchair was the complete opposite. In my assessment I expressed that I wanted a wheelchair which was lightweight, easy to self-propel, they even asked what colour I wanted (blue). However, when I received the equipment, they just chose a standard wheelchair from a store room - not only was it the wrong colour but it was heavy and extremely difficult for me to self-propel, with limiters on the wheels. I had therefore lost my independence. My NHS physiotherapist and Occupational Therapist soon realised the difficulties the wheelchair was causing both to myself and my parents and advised I approach the wheelchair services again, but for a powered wheelchair. However, even though these experts were fully aware of my needs and what equipment would best suit me, this particular wheelchair services refused my request for a powered wheelchair. In the end I approached the charity Whizz-Kidz and they not only provided me with a powered wheelchair, but a wheelchair which suited my needs both medically and socially. As a complete contrast Whizz-Kidz in their assessment process asked me about my plans for the future, what were my needs, what colour did I want and throughout the entire process ensured the wheelchair suited all of my needs. This powered wheelchair which I am still using today as it suited all my needs has prevented my posture from worsening and prevented me from needing a spinal rod operation on the NHS which most people with my disability end up requiring. If I was still in my NHS wheelchair today I would not have been able to avoid having this operation. My powered wheelchair has not only provided me with more confidence, but massively increased my independence, allowing me to live a more active and fulfilling life. I have been able to be more socially active and have been able to volunteer at a local museum and now attend university (living on site with carers). All of this things would have been extremely difficult if I was still in NHS equipment.