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September 2023 Newsletter

null • 8 min read • May 21, 2024 4:22:25 PM • Written by: The Wheelchair Alliance

STOP PRESS: Wheelchair Alliance to support NHS England!

We were recently approached by NHS England asking us to help them produce a Quality Framework for wheelchair provision.

We think this is very good news as the Alliance will collaborate with commissioners and providers of NHS wheelchair services to ensure they all deliver high quality services which meet expected standards. This will help reduce the current postcode lottery and will drive improvements in wheelchair services for all. With the input from our User Engagement Group, the Wheelchair Alliance will be in a position to influence and shape the Quality Framework to ensure it helps services deliver the outcomes we all want for wheelchair service users.

Follow our progress and help strengthen our voice on our website or social channel.

Your voice is being heard…

We are really pleased to say that the work of the Alliance is being noticed – and that means the volunteers supporting the Alliance are working harder to Strengthen the Voice of wheelchair users and improve service provision. There is a financial cost to this, for example managing the website, paying for insurances and also funding some administration costs.

We are actively approaching companies to sponsor our work or become partners however there may be other organisations that would like to become members, especially as we move to develop an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) – see the update later in the newsletter.

If you know of anyone interested in supporting improvements in wheelchair services they can email wheelchair-alliance-september-newsletter-images2

Getting out and about:

July was a busy month as the Alliance was raising awareness at a number of high profile events. We are indebted to Disability Expo for providing us with a stand at their inaugural event in exchange for taking part in one of their excellent People’s Panels. There was a bit of a frenzy of activity as we developed pop-up stands and leaflets to highlight what we do. However it was well worth the effort as many people visited the stand and we made some good links which we are following up and will hopefully result in new partner relationships.

We also shared a stand at the PMG (Postural and Mobility Group) conference with the National Wheelchair Managers Forum (NWMF). This was a great opportunity for us to network with other professionals striving to deliver the best possible wheelchair services.

Once again, a big thank you to PMG and NWMF for their fantastic support.wheelchair-alliance-september-newsletter-images3

“I have been a powered wheelchair user for most of my life where it has given me independence to get out and about. May this be travelling around London, allowing me to be ambitious to take part in different adventures abroad or having the opportunity to meet friends. All things and much more which allow me to have a fulfilling life.

However, it boils down to having the right wheelchair to fit around my needs. It must be comfortable for my legs as some days I can be out all day with no opportunity to lie down and this can create a lot of pain. So, having my chair being able to lean back relieving the pressure of my leg has been such a help in these long days (as long as I remember to do it). Also, having suspension when going over rocky surfaces does make it a lot more comfortable.

I also need a chair that I can rely on having long distance as my adventures can take me far and wide. Luckily, my brother found a spot on the back of my wheelchair where he has put one of the charges onto it so that I can charge on the go by finding a plug socket. This allows me to feel confident and I know not to worry that I will be running out of charge as long as I am with someone to do so.

And as much as I am not a fan of manual wheelchairs which stops my independence and having to rely on others to push me around, they have saved me when I’m having to travel via car as it can be folded a lot easier and is lighter. And when the unexpected airline decides to damage my electric I have a backup. I require this chair especially to have comfort because usually getting my manual chair to this degree becomes a little more difficult to achieve but it is important as if I am in a manual for longer and it is not comfortable then it takes a longer time to recover from the pain.

Overall, having the right wheelchair is so important to me for independence, comfort and just being able to live a fulfilling and happy life.”

Isaac Harvey, MBE

A view from a wheelchair

In our last newsletter one of the Alliance Board members shared his thoughts on repairs and maintenance and our Wheelchair User Engagement Group have been clear on sharing their opinions too.

The Alliance knows that the Quality Framework mentioned earlier will include repairs, maintenance and follow up and we will ensure the experience and possibly solutions from wheelchair users are included in the development of the framework.

The Alliance is also considering other innovative approaches that may help and will update you in a future newsletter.

What is the value of a wheelchair? 

This may seem a strange question and the Alliance has commissioned some research, funded by a grant from Motability Foundation, to look at this.

The right wheelchair will make a difference to you as well as your families and carers enabling you to live the life you would choose. The research is being undertaken by two well known research companies: Frontier Economics and Revealing Reality. A number of wheelchair users have been interviewed following our call for people wishing to take part and the findings will be published in November.

There are some clear themes emerging and we believe the interim results will have a big impact on our ability to lobby for change, including more creative use of the money available for wheelchairs and, we hope, increased funding for wheelchairs.

Watch this space!wheelchair-alliance-september-newsletter-images5

Getting your voice heard by those who need it most!

We know how hard it can be to get our voices heard and make change happen which is why we are keen on getting an All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for wheelchair provision set up.

There is already an APPG for Disability which covers all types of disability, both seen and unseen, with wheelchairs a small part of it. We talked with the Chair of the APPG for Disability and they felt a separate one for wheelchairs would be beneficial. We have been busy behind the scenes working on this and the Alliance will act as the lead for the APPG with both expertise and financial support from Whizz-Kidz. There is no guarantee that we will be successful and we are currently at the stage of approaching MPs’ and Peers’ across all parties to see if they are interested, along with our patron, the Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, in supporting this.

We will regularly update you on this and know that many organisations whose members are reliant on wheelchairs will be keen to join the Group.wheelchair-alliance-september-newsletter-images6

Keeping our plans up to date:

We regularly review our strategy to make sure that our objectives continue to be relevant and enable us to deliver our mission. 

The latest draft was discussed by the User Engagement Group and their suggestions were incorporated into the strategy and then approved by the Board at our meeting in August. 

View our strategy for 2023 – 2026 wheelchair-alliance-september-newsletter-images7


Keeping our plans up to date:

There are some important points that readers of the newsletter may wish to help us with:

We aim to expand our User Engagement Group to become a National Advisory Board of wheelchair users to really amplify your voice. It isn’t possible to include all wheelchair users on the Advisory Board and we are looking for wheelchair users who are in a position to represent each of the seven NHS regions. We currently have representatives from a number of wheelchair service providers – if you know of others, please use the contact form on the website to ask for more information. Contact Us

We are looking for people who wish to join The Wheelchair Alliance Operational Board to actively support the work of the Alliance and are particularly keen to increase the number of Board members with lived experience. For more details please use our contact form accessible via the link above.

We will be voting for new members at our Board meeting in November.wheelchair-alliance-september-newsletter-images8

Support The Wheelchair Alliance by making a donation, partnering with us or becoming a sponsor

The Wheelchair Alliance