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The Essential Mobility Checklist

Mobility scooters and powerchairs help millions of people stay mobile in the UK. Here’s an essential checklist, which we’ve packed with everything you need to know if you’re thinking about mobility.

When walking becomes challenging, scooters and powerchairs make everyday life easier.

They’re used by a range of people at different stages on their mobility journey. Some just need a bit of extra support to get around, while others need more. Mobility looks different for everyone, so it’s all about finding what works for you.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a scooter for yourself or a loved one, there’s a lot to consider. It can be an exciting journey, as you imagine all the things, you’ll have the freedom to do independently. But it’s not without its challenges.

Buying a mobility scooter is an incredibly personal decision. And it’s okay if you don’t feel like now’s the right time. The more you explore your options, the more confident you’ll be when you decide, knowing it’s the right choice at the right time.

There are many things to consider when buying a mobility scooter. So, it’s no surprise that people can feel overwhelmed by the options. We’ve put together this handy mobility checklist, to help you choose and use.

Is now the right time?

It’s perfectly normal to feel like you don’t quite know where to begin, or what questions to ask. You might be feeling uncertain about what’s involved in planning, and whether now really is the right time. And that’s okay.
There’s no such thing as a ‘right time’ according to Dr. Hannah Barham-Brown, a disability campaigner and TGA powerchair user.

If you’re having trouble deciding, Hannah suggests asking yourself (or a loved one) some simple questions:

“Are there things you would like to be doing right now that your impairment stops you from doing? Are you achieving everything you want to? Are you going out with your family? Are you going shopping independently?” she asks.

“If the thing that’s holding you back is not being able to walk very far, or not being able to stand for very long, then it’s the time to start considering your options,” she adds.

The important thing is not to rush into anything. It’s natural to feel a little wary at first, so take your time and consider how your life would change with a mobility scooter.

If the thing that’s holding you back is not being able to walk very far, or not being able to stand for very long, then it’s the time to start considering your options…

How to get support when deciding about mobility

Talking with friends and family is a great way to explore your mobility and finding support in the process. If you’re not sure if you need a mobility tool or what type would be best for your situation, TGA has some helpful guides online, which should help with the decision-making process.

Organisations such as Parkinson’s UK and the MS Society provide valuable support to people with disabilities, and can help with everything from funding to finding people who are on the same mobility journey as you

It’s okay if you don’t feel now is the right time

There are plenty of reasons that can make people feel like they’re not ready for a mobility scooter. Maybe it feels too soon. Some people report a sense of “admitting defeat”. Others might be coming to terms with their limited mobility, and the research process can feel overwhelming.

These are all perfectly valid feelings, so if that’s where you’re at right now, don’t worry. You can explore these issues and find support in our helpful guides online.

 

Getting your mobility wishlist together

Your mobility wishlist needs to work for you — the person using it every day —and that means it needs to meet your needs, wants and budget.

But it also has to fit into your daily life and suit your circumstances too.

 

Matching your mobility wishlist with your life goals.

It may seem like an odd question but think about what your life goals are. Are there things you want to try? Places you want to go? Hobbies you would love to get back into. How are those goals going to impact the type of mobility aid you need?

Dr. Hannah Barham-Brown suggests you “think big” when considering the options available. “What are the craziest things you can think of? Even if it seems completely unlikely at this stage, because a lot of us come to chairs at challenging times in our lives when it feels like everything’s kind of shutting down around us,” she says.

What are your must-haves? What are your nice-to-haves? Do you want something that folds up? Or a mobility scooter that can go for long distances, on different kinds of terrain? Write down everything that comes to mind and see how it shapes up on paper.

Think practically about your powerchair

There are lots of reasons why people decide to get a mobility scooter: wanting to maintain independence in your daily life; getting tired easily; not being able to walk long distances for yourself or with assistance; or finding that steps or stairs have become difficult.

When you’re thinking about your new mobility product, don’t forget the little things that can make a big difference in your daily life. Think about how often you take public transportation, how far away from home your appointments are, and how much weight you’ll need your chair to carry for you.

Are there any inconveniences or obstacles you’d like a new chair to help you overcome? “Thinking about who you want to be in it and what you want to do is absolutely key,” says Dr. Hannah.

Maybe this means taking an afternoon drive through the countryside, to a National Trust property, or on an active holiday abroad.

If you could have a feature or accessory, what might that be?

 

See what’s possible with a mobility scooter or powerchair

If you’re considering purchasing a mobility scooter, it can be helpful to explore how they’ve enhanced other people’s lives.

Mobility scooters can unlock a whole world of possibilities. And don’t just take our word for it. Check our customer blog to get an idea of the range of lifestyles and aspirations that are possible.

 

Try a range of options first

“I think one of the great things about TGA is they bring the chair to you to try,” says Hannah. “So you’re not just travelling to a showroom and going that looks shiny, I will try that one, please.”

Speaking to a knowledgeable advisor can help you understand the options best suited to your lifestyle. TGA will bring a range of models to your home to try, with zero-commitment involved.

“That really helps you work out whether it’s the right thing for you, because it is a very personal choice.”

 

Think about your environment

Think about where you’ll be taking your chair. A three-wheel chair is more maneuverable in tight spaces around town, while the bigger 4-wheel options are better suited to travelling further afield.

Consider whether you need it to go over different terrains such as grass, gravel, and mud. Do you need to travel on pavements or roads? How flexible does the chair need to be in terms of charging? Are you able to charge at home?

Answering these questions will help you select the right option.

 

Stay in control

Next, think about how much effort is required for steering and operating the controls on a particular model. You may want something that requires minimal effort because it’s easier on your hands or arms.

Controls are the key to mobility. You can’t go anywhere without them, but if they’re not set up right, you run the risk of losing control of your scooter.

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your controls are set up properly for you. Can you see all of the controls on your scooter? Are they easy to reach? Do you understand what each of the controls do?

If they’re too far away or hidden from view, it may be time to adjust your seat. In some cases, this is as simple as raising or lowering a lever — but if you need professional help, don’t be afraid to ask for it.

Finally, think about whether colour helps you see your controls more clearly.

If colours can help you differentiate between buttons and levers, then add them. They’ll make all the difference in your ability to use your mobility scooter or powerchair.

 

Powering up your mobility scooter

How often you use your scooter will affect the life of the battery, as well as how far you travel each time.

If you’re just running errands around town or taking a short trip to the shops, you should have plenty of power. But if you’re commuting longer distances or travelling overnight, it’s a good idea to stop with some extra charge left in your battery so you don’t run out.

The batteries in most mobility scooters and powerchairs take between 8 and 12 hours to fully recharge after they have been completely discharged. This means that if you run out of power during your travels, it’s important to charge the battery before using it again since extended use without a full charge can lead to damage.

 

How to get funding for a mobility scooter or powerchair

It’s important to know that mobility scooters aren’t usually covered by the NHS. If you’re looking for funding to cover your costs, you’ll want to see what financial support you might be entitled to.

The government-funded Motability Scheme enables disabled people, their carers and other family members to lease new powerchairs or mobility scooters in exchange for their mobility allowance. See the criteria, and more tips on how to get funding here.

 

Jazzing up your ride

Mobility scooters can help you get around when walking is difficult. But did you know that they also come with some added bonuses?

Many models have USB ports, so you’ll never have to worry about running out of battery on your phone again. You can even plug in a Bluetooth speaker and take your music with you on your ride, so you can enjoy your favourite tunes wherever you go.

They come in different colours, too — from brilliant reds to navy blues — so why not add some personality to your ride?

 

Think about the extras

For some people, a mobility scooter is a tool that gives them back their independence and freedom. For others, it is more than this — it’s an opportunity to get involved in hobbies and activities they wouldn’t be able to do without their scooter or chair.

But, like anything, both mobility scooters and powerchairs have different accessories that you can use with them to make your life easier. These range from simple items like wheelchair gloves, which can help prevent blisters if you’re using a manual (Hannah recommends using sailing gloves) to protective canopies, which shield you from wind, rain, and sun.

 

Finding your tribe

“There’s a power in finding other people like you” Hannah says, explaining that she found other disabled doctors like her on social media, which helped to “get her head” around her disability.

“That community has helped me with all of the small things I’d never have considered when I first became disabled.”

Being part of a community online or offline can help no matter what stage of the journey you’re at. If you’re looking for more general advice on choosing the right model for your needs and lifestyle, there are plenty of forums where people share their experiences.

Why not reach out and see if you can find other users who might want to share their tips for staying mobile?

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