Addressing the Problems With Wheelchair Repair Service

Your car breaks, you get a rental car straightaway. Your wheelchair breaks, you wait for four weeks. Should wheelchair repairs be more timely? I think this answer has to be yes.

I want to start by saying it saddens me to have to write this because I never wish to criticize anyone, nor do I like to complain, especially against a service I rely on. However, the assistance I received from my wheelchair repair service was beyond poor and has left me feeling deeply disappointed that this is allowed to happen.

I have cerebral palsy and so am a full time wheelchair user. I am also a psychologist who has to get to work every day, just like everyone else. A Ph.D. student that strives to make university (despite those early lectures) just like everyone else. I want to contribute to and be a part of society, just like everyone else.

I use a powered wheelchair which allows me to get around independently. When it breaks, I am limited to the use of my manual chair which due to left-sided weakness, I can’t keep in a straight line (you can laugh, it is funny). What’s not funny though is that 48 hours later, I still have not been assessed and I still have no chair. The reason? “We aren’t paid for after hours service.” But when I do have an appointment after taking the day off work? “The engineer can’t visit because he can’t get parked.” Again I’m not angry, just sad.

I appreciate that my story is most likely a system problem rather than an issue at an individual level. I feel a strong responsibility to speak up about this so steps can be made to improve. As a person who worked for the NHS, I understand these services have to prioritize cases and often cover a very large area, but I feel some tweaks to the system are essential. Even if it started with something as simple as updating clients if there is to be a delay on their repair.

Another area to address could be increased awareness of disability for those who work on the repairs. For instance, previously when a engineer called I was asked, “how was the day center today?” Don’t get me wrong, a day center most certainly is a vital and often brilliant method of socialization for some people, but the key word there is “some.” This should not be an assumption. Again, I stress I know no harm was meant; he was just trying to be friendly. But a little more understanding of the diversity of his client base would be useful. Every human should be treated as you find them, disability or not. No one is lesser just because they live life differently to what you view “life” to be.

Despite these instances, my wheelchair repair service do eventually help me as needed — I just wish it wasn’t such a fight. I know they are just trying to do a job, but I’m just trying to go about my daily life. Surely some changes to the system would make life easier for all involved. Does everyone not deserve and benefit from an efficient, satisfactory service?

28 thoughts on “Addressing the Problems With Wheelchair Repair Service

  1. Well said. My son has exactly the same problem, in his 3rd year at university and has been running around on bald tyres for months and now the icy and snowy weather is here. And that’s just the latest issue that’s he been left waiting to be fixed! Doesn’t seem to matter to wheelchair services at all that he needs to mobile to get to Uni!

    It’s so frustrating, more NHS money should be directing to helping disabled people, especially towards those that work for a living so are therefore contributing to society and paying their NI!! And employed needs to change their perception in general towards disabled people. Just because they are in a wheelchair or walk funny or have limbs missing does not mean they cannot do a full days work! See the person not the disability.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Andrea, thank you for your comment and sorry to hear about the challenges your son has been facing too. I hope he gets these resolved soon, especially in this weather as you rightly pointed out. In my experience it’s just about staying persistent and stressing how important his chair is to him. Good luck!

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  2. It is so bad that it is such a struggle to get a wheelchair repair, but I am so glad that you write about this kind of problem and I am sure that these kinds of posts will raise awareness. Also, you are such an inspiration. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So, so true. My father is a full time wheelchair user and also has an electric scooter. In the last 3 years his chair and scooter have been damaged beyond repair by an airline (two different airlines!). So, we get stuck with an airport wheel chair once we get to our destination and waiting weeks for them to process the claims to get the equipment replaced. After the second time, we purchased a scooter and wheelchair out of pocket to keep at my sister’s home in Florida because we visit her there 3-4 times a year and were sick of having his chairs damaged! Those things are NOT cheap! We have a special inexpensive wheelchair that we bring to the airport that we don’t care if it gets damaged because his everyday chair was over $4000. So, we have two scooters and three wheelchairs simply because airline employees can’t be taught to be gentle with medical equipment.

    And you’re right, when we do need a repair…it’s a long wait. These are not accessories. It’s not like dropping off your leather boots to be re-soled. These are essential modes of transportation.

    I’m so sorry that you’ve had to go through this. We need more awareness around accessibility for sure!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is sad to hear. Another part of the medical system that is just too slow and inefficient. I feel for you. You should totally get a rental just like you would get a curtacy vehicle. Hears to hoping for change. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh that really is surprising that you are left to use a wheelchair that is not working well for you. More money really needs does need to be put into wheelchair repair services.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is so bad that it’s seems such a struggle to get a wheelchair repair. It should be instantaneous! Sorry you had to go through this.

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  7. I’m so disappointed to hear this. My daughter also has CP, but it’s very mild so she doesn’t need a wheelchair. We know plenty of people who do, and I think it’s a disgrace that you can’t get it fixed more quickly 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Not only is this frustrating for you it’s also pretty outrageous. In a society where you can get your shopping delivered to your door in couple of hours, your windshield replaced at home the same afternoon and you car fixed by the side of the road it is shocking that you can’t have your wheelchair repaired quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was very sad to read, especially the part about not being able to get parking so cancelling an appointment! I never realised these were the types of issues people can face, I hope we can work towards a better future

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Gosh, this is something I hadn’t even considered before. My other halve’s grandpa has ALS and if his chair breaks, he literally cannot move any part of his body, except his face – it would be so undignified and upsetting. I think there should definitely be an out of hours service, there’s clearly a need for it so why doesn’t it exist.

    Liked by 1 person

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