More than 9,000 people are currently being supported by the Walsall Wheelchair Service, with an average of 140 referrals a month being made to the service.
It supports children aged from 36 months up to adults of all ages and the staff who are part of this Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust team are extremely proud of the way they work with borough patients, families and carers with a range of health conditions.
Breda Fletcher is the Occupational Therapist in the team and she explains the detail that goes into ensuring that people are given the correct wheelchair, mobility equipment, postural support and accessories for both their physical needs and to support the things they say are important in their lives.
Breda said: “I think there can sometimes be a perception that wheelchairs are something that an elderly person may need; people often don’t realise the wide range of factors that we need to take into account when supporting someone referred to this service. We see many people with conditions that mean they require postural support or a tilt and recline feature for example.
“We provide wheelchairs and mobility equipment for people of all ages with often complex conditions – the criteria is that they have to have a Walsall GP and a long term medical condition which severely impairs their mobility. Criteria for provision is set by NHS England.
“We carry out assessments and make sure we really get to know our patients to gain as full a picture as possible of their situation. There are many things to consider; is the wheelchair for indoor or outdoor use or both, do they want to be able to access public transport, can they propel the chair themselves, can their carer manage the chair?
“Colleagues within this team are really invested in the service we provide to people and everyone is treated as an individual. We think outside the box and strive to provide the best solution we can. As the service links in with the West Midlands Regional Wheelchair Services Group we keep up to date with innovation, research and development.”
Breda added: “Being an Occupational Therapist within Walsall Wheelchair Service is so satisfying as we see people’s confidence build and can appreciate how their quality of life can be improved in many cases by giving them independence. Our team prides itself on working well together to make a positive impact on people’s lives.”
Clinical Lead for the service is Phil Whitehouse, with Garry Burton and Matt Myatt as rehab engineers. Leanne Westley and Karen Lockley are administrators.