Before you are provided with equipment, or you buy it, it’s worth getting independent advice to make sure that the type of equipment you’re getting is the best to meet your needs. If buying yourself, you may be eligible for VAT relief on devices and services you buy specifically to help you cope with your long-term condition or disability. Your retailer will advise you if this is the case.
Organisations that can give information and advice
- You can get independent reports from the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers. There are a number of Mobility and Motoring guides available on their website. Or you can telephone 020 7427 2460.
- The Money Advice Service website has advice about shopping around for disability aids and equipment.
- Disabled Living Foundation gives impartial advice about aids and equipment. Helpline: 0300 999 0004.
For information on what’s available and where to get it, you can speak to your GP or practice nurse, local pharmacist or social care staff.
If you prefer to buy your own walking aid there are numerous outlets selling mobility equipment. You can search for Mobility Equipment and Services in the Trading Standards approved Buy With Confidence directory.
An aid is only useful if you know how to use it properly and safely. Whenever you get new (or replacement) equipment, ask to be shown how it works. Over time, all aids need checking to see they still work. Make sure you know where to find new parts for an aid, or who to talk to about getting an aid repaired or replaced.
You may be able to borrow walking aids, such as walking sticks or Zimmer frames, from the NHS.
Living Made Easy gives impartial advice about mobility products. Select "Access and Mobility" from the menu at the top of the page. You can also call one of their advisers on 0300 999 0004 (9am - 5pm, Mon-Fri).
Permanent or regular use wheelchairs are available from the NHS Wheelchair Service. You will need to be referred by your GP for this service. Short-term loan wheelchairs are available to hire from the British Red Cross, usually for a loan period of 6 weeks. This may be helpful while waiting for a permanent wheelchair to be issued.
If you are thinking of buying your own wheelchair:
- Which has guidance about choosing the right
- The Money Advice Service website has advice about shopping around for disability
aids and equipment.
- Disabled Living Foundation gives impartial advice about aids and equipment.
Helpline: 0300 999 0004.
The Motability scheme allows some disabled people getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP) or War Pensioners Mobility Supplement (WPMS) to obtain a car, powered wheelchair or scooter.
You can rent or buy equipment from some commercial companies, but it's important to take independent advice to ensure you make the best choice. See advice under ‘Manual wheelchairs’.
The number of people using powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters has increased in recent years. Before taking one of these vehicles out on to the road or pavement make sure that you have a good understanding of the rules concerning their use and that you undertake training.
Highway Code rules for users of powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
DVLA guide to registering powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Code of practice for Class 3 vehicle users from the Department of Transport.
If you are able to go out to do your own shopping, Shopmobility may help.