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lightweight folding wheelchairs

(14 Posts)
MereDintofPandiculation Sun 24-Feb-19 21:53:42

My father came round for a family meal, and it became clear that his mobility has declined . We have steps up into the house, and had made "half steps" to help him get up and down, but cognitive issues mean he can't understand instructions as to which foot to put where.

So we need to move on to the next stage - a folding wheelchair and a portable ramp.

Local mobility shops have folding wheelchairs for about £175, online your can get them (different makes) for £90. Has anyone got any experience of these, what features to look out for, etc. Recommendations of makes would be even better!

HighwayCat Sun 24-Feb-19 22:17:19

I’ve no recommendations on brands, but there’s various things to look for. There’s ones with big back wheels -self propelling, if he’s likely to push himself around (my Dad used to ‘paddle’ around with his feet which is apparently quite common but very bad for posture plus end up slipping down in the seat) or you can get attendant propelled ones which have 4 smaller wheels. Obviously you can still push the self-propelling chairs and I think they’re easier if you’ll be using it outside at all. Check about folding down to fit in a car boot if necessary, some are quite a hassle. The footplates seem to be the bits that end up broken so maybe find out about ease and cost of getting replacements. And if he has any condition - rather than just old age - you’re exempt from VAT on the purchase.

MereDintofPandiculation Mon 25-Feb-19 10:51:37

Yes, thanks, I knew about the VAT exemption, which I've used for footwear. I'd sort of rejected the big wheeled ones as I don't see him self propelling (there are cognitive issues, and we would hang on to the wheelchair since he doesn't have space, and just use it when he was out with us). How much easier are they to use outside? - I can't see us pushing him very far. The downside is they're less easy to fold, although some have removable wheels.

Needmoresleep Wed 27-Feb-19 15:28:12

This has worked for us. Slightly less than £100.

MereDintofPandiculation Wed 27-Feb-19 21:35:35

Thanks! That's about the same cost as hiring for a day, once you take astronomical delivery charge into account.

DS tells me that a big-wheeled wheelchair can be got up a flight of 4 steps. Any idea whether the same could be done with this?

littlemisscynical Wed 27-Feb-19 22:19:25

Are there any health professionals involved in your fathers care? If he has a diagnosis of a progressive condition he will likely meet criteria for wheelchair provision. Ask GP for OT referral. They will be able to provide recommendations for ramp also. Though obviously won't be able to assess your home as it is not your fathers main residence.

Needmoresleep Thu 28-Feb-19 00:19:34

I don’t really know. My mother has dementia and was slowly losing mobility but “didn’t need a wheelchair”. We got the lightest/cheapest one which could be put in the back of the car, giving her a chance to change her mind.

Three years on and she is happy to use it when out, but uses a walker at home. We mainly do car park to cafe type journeys so nothing too rugged. But the Lloyds pharmacy site has alternatives and their products, at least the ones we have bought, have been good and well priced.

My guess is that even if you found you needed a more robust model, there will be times when something light and portable comes in handy.

littlemisscynical Thu 28-Feb-19 09:45:24

@Needmoresleep I am sad to hear that. When I worked as an OT in dementia services I never refused a request for a wheelchair. Just a basic transit wheelchair usually, not a self propelling one. As long as the family use it to take the client out regularly I saw no problem with providing one. My colleagues seemed to do the same.
I would pull out all the stops when it came to helping family who are caring for a relative with dementia.

Needmoresleep Thu 28-Feb-19 10:24:04

misscynical, yes, the struggle with dementia is to solve the problems that keep arising as she loses capacity. DM is very lucky as money is not an issue. (Managing her assets with the family tensions around inheritance is!) Often paying does not help, so in this case the light cheap wheelchair was perfect. (When faced with the slope down to the cafe, her response was "perhaps just this time, I am feel a bit tired.")

I think one of the struts did bend so it did not fold properly but one of the carers relatives is a car mechanic and he sorted it in a jiffy.

Sometimes paying does help. She stopped walking and was in pain and the XRay did not show anything. Rather than wait for the NHS referral she saw a private physio the next day who diagnosed bursitis and got her back on her feet. Three appointments, £100, and no further problems.

The latest is that when she wakes in the middle of the night (ten years into dementia and she is still in very sheltered housing, with three carer visits) she no longer remembers where the loo is so goes out the front door, and then returned to the wrong flat and once managed to get out of the building completely. The laser with a voice message was no good as she argued with the message, then ignored it. She would climb over a stair gate, we cant lock the door because there is no DOLS. Next up is a night light in the loo and a sensor on her front door. One day we wont find the solution, but at the moment the housing manager and SS could not be more helpful.

Fortysix Thu 28-Feb-19 12:31:31

If you are looking to bump up and down steps then maybe look at the wheels/ tyres specifically.
My DM's chair (Days Escape Lite, attendant propelled) was bought initially for my DF nearly four years ago for very casual journeys but she inherited it and is using it every day in the care home. It does OK on the flat but it's not fabulous on changing terrain.
My DSis took my DM around the local area on Tuesday in the better weather and managed to tip her out the front into the mud when she came upon an obstacle. (Rescued by two dog walkers; sister's lack of pram skills evident. Accident report form had to be filled in on return.)
We've been contemplating a new one for a while but not got round to it. We won't buy the same one again- wheels are too small- but then we never expected still to have requirement four years on. Watching with interest.

Fortysix Thu 28-Feb-19 14:53:03

Needmore have been told luminous tape strips can also help. My DM is a bottom shuffler and occasional walker in the night but couldn’t vault a stair gate.
Mere you may want to add a comfort cushion or wheel chair pad £10 + to your shopping list. Not the sort of thing you want to borrow and if it remains in your car between uses, you want it to be fresh and odour free.

MereDintofPandiculation Fri 01-Mar-19 06:22:13

Thanks, everyone. Still reading! It's all helpful.

Fortysix Sun 03-Mar-19 12:12:25

Compared two chairs yesterday side by side both with passengers aboard. For our purpose, taking DM outside once or twice a week around park and negotiating pavements, the self propelled option with its double sized wheels will make for a smoother less bumpy transition. Current chair is the equivalent of a stroller.
I think it boils down to how many times a week you are going to be taking chair in and out car and whether the ramp works efficiently. If ramp removes the need to ‘bump’ him then the smaller wheels would have my vote. However if you are going to be pushing regularly on gravel, on concrete, on grass, on old tarmac when he goes out and about then the care home’s linoleum floors then I would go for bigger wheels. Hopefully others in the know will contribute their experience...

MereDintofPandiculation Mon 04-Mar-19 10:27:12

Fortysix Yes, that's the conclusion we came to. Access to the ramp is via gravel, so although we're not expecting to use it more than once a week, it might make the difference between making the journey and not being bale to make the journey.

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