In March 2021 Scottish Government issued new Guidance on the provision of Wheelchairs for short-term loan. This was developed in response to national work involving the Red Cross, which highlighted inconsistency and gaps in the provision of basic wheelchairs for temporary, short-term loan.
Current criteria advises that the regional NHS Wheelchair services will, following assessment, provide standard wheelchairs for 'permanent and substantial usage'. However if the needs are short term or intermittent then the needs will not be met by the service. In terms of residents within Care Homes (residential and Nursing), it is the responsibility of the Care Homes to purchase and provide standard wheelchairs for any short term/variable needs.
Further work to clarify provision nationally has confirmed that historical arrangements for short term provision of standard wheelchairs have been inconsistent, unclear, reliant on the third sector, and staff are often left to problem solve this gap in provision leading to frustration and delays. There is evidence of a direct impact on delaying discharges from hospital settings, and lack of timely short term provision has an effect on both the physical and mental wellbeing for those patients who are at key stages in their illness/condition.
This new Guidance does not replace the obligations of regional wheelchair services but rather, addresses the gaps in provision for short-term loan needs. It provides detail on the definition of short-term loan and type of wheelchairs suitable for these temporary needs, and useful information to help services establish clear criteria and processes.
Some community equipment services have already applied this approach and can evidence the benefits in terms of the impact on wider service provision, as well as for the person who requires the wheelchair loan. A community Occupational Therapist from West Dunbartonshire said:
I was duty OT and received a call from one of our Physiotherapists who was trying to prevent and admission to hospital. The speedy provision of the chair allowed the client to remain at home with support. The wheelchair was delivered the next day and the outcome was that the client was not admitted, instead cared for in their own home.
It's great to now have this service through our community equipment store service.
- Integration Authorities must adhere to the recommendations within the Scottish Government Guidance on the provision of Wheelchairs for short-term loan, and have suitable arrangements in place to meet any eligible needs for a wheelchair on short-term loan, for up to a maximum of 6 months, to ensure no gaps in service provision.
- These arrangements must also be monitored, and reported within the Integration Authority.
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