Transforming wheelchair services with a ‘can do’ attitude

A boy in a wheelchairHardly a clinic goes by without a wheelchair issue cropping up. Too small, broken, not supporting particular body parts, foot plates not right….then there’s the attitude of the people who make the assessments. Where’s the ‘can do’ attitude? Often sadly lacking, with too many reasons for why something can’t be done.

In our area we are working on making this whole process better. We have set up an inter-agency strategic partnership for disabled children and young people. This is chaired by a lay person and includes folk from the local authority, the clinical commissioning group, managers and lead clinicians from the health provider trusts at management, and, most importantly of all, the young people’s participation officer and chair of our local parent carer forum. The first thing on our agenda to tackle is equipment as disabled children, young people and parent carers tell us the current arrangements are not working for them.

We are mapping out what happens at the moment and will redesign the whole service.

A lot can be done without needing to spend extra money. Being smarter about commissioning, taking time to listen to what disabled children, young people and their parent carers tell us they need, and doing something about everyone’s attitude will make a big and positive difference.

We plan to use some of the sessions of eLearning from Disability Matters to help to improve everyone’s attitudes. This programme is being co-developed by disabled young people, parent carers and other experts across agencies and the voluntary sector and gives voice to the lived experiences of disabled children, young people and their families. They tell us what works best for them and how we all can do better to support them as they go about their daily lives and access services.

Check it out at

A bit more thought, a lot more listening to those who need to use wheelchairs and a big dose of positive, ‘can do’ attitude will make a significant difference that we hope matters for disabled children, young people and their families.

Dr Karen Horridge
Paediatrician (Disability), Sunderland
Chair, North of England Collaborative Cerebral Palsy Survey
Chair, British Academy of Childhood Disability


One thought on “Transforming wheelchair services with a ‘can do’ attitude

  1. It’s a start, in 2010 my wife who weighed 8 stone was given a large electric wheelchair, after the engineer failed to fix the back my wife said again it’s to big.
    His reply was if your not prepared to move bedroom furniture out of the room, then we will have to consider if we can supply you with a chair and left.
    A few days later wife told me to ask them to remove both her old electric chair and the manual chair.
    We then went in debt by buying one that was more suitable.

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