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Wheelchairs and scooters

Wheelchairs and Scooters Panel

Maintaining mobility and independence becomes increasingly important as we age. Whether you're considering a wheelchair or a scooter for yourself or a loved one, understanding the options and potential challenges is crucial.

Common scenarios and concerns

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Limited mobility: Difficulty walking long distances or navigating uneven surfaces can restrict daily activities.

This can lead to reduced independence, social isolation, and frustration.

Wheelchairs: Manual or electric wheelchairs offer varying levels of support and independence. 

Scooters: Mobility scooters provide a powered option for those with limited walking ability.

Safety concerns: Manoeuvring a wheelchair or scooter safely indoors and outdoors requires awareness and adaptation.

This can lead to falls, injuries, and property damage.

Training: Seek proper training on the safe operation of your chosen mobility aid. 

Home modifications: Consider ramps, wider doorways, and lowered countertops for improved accessibility.

Comfort and fit: Using a wheelchair or scooter that doesn't fit properly can lead to discomfort and pain.

This can lead to pressure sores, back pain, and difficulty manoeuvring.

Proper sizing: Ensure your wheelchair or scooter is sized to your body measurements for optimal comfort and support. 

Cushioning and seating: Choose appropriate seat cushions and backrests for added comfort and pressure relief.


Choosing the right mobility aid

The choice between a wheelchair and a scooter depends on your individual needs and level of mobility. Here's a breakdown of each option:


  • Manual wheelchairs: These require user propulsion and are ideal for individuals with some upper body strength and endurance.
  • Electric wheelchairs: Powered wheelchairs provide increased independence and are suitable for those with limited upper body strength.
  • Lightweight wheelchairs: These are portable and easier to fold and transport, making them ideal for travel or occasional use.

Mobility scooters

  • Three-wheeled scooters: These offer greater manoeuvrability in tight spaces but require more user skill for balance.
  • Four-wheeled scooters: These provide increased stability and are a good choice for those with reduced balance or coordination.

Factors to consider when choosing a mobility aid

  • Level of mobility: Consider your ability to push yourself, transfer from a chair, and maintain balance.
  • Lifestyle needs: Think about where you'll be using the mobility aid most frequently (indoors, outdoors, uneven terrain).
  • Strength and endurance: Evaluate your upper body strength and stamina for operating a manual wheelchair.
  • Budget: Wheelchairs and scooters range in price depending on features and functionality.

Safety first

Operating a wheelchair or scooter safely requires training and awareness.

  • Seek training: Always obtain proper training from a qualified professional on the safe operation of your chosen mobility aid.
  • Practice in a controlled environment: Before venturing outdoors, practice navigating your mobility aid indoors to become comfortable with handling it.
  • Plan your route: When going outdoors, choose accessible routes with smooth surfaces and avoid steep inclines or uneven terrain.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Always pay attention to traffic, pedestrians, and obstacles while operating your mobility aid.
  • Maintain your mobility aid: Regularly inspect and service your wheelchair or scooter to ensure it's in safe working order.

Adapting your home for accessibility

Living in a home that accommodates your mobility aid is essential for safety and independence. Here are some modifications you can consider:

  • Ramps: Install ramps at doorways and other uneven transitions to facilitate smooth travel.
  • Wider doorways: Widen doorways to allow for easier passage with a wheelchair or scooter.
  • Lowered countertops: Lowering countertops in kitchens and bathrooms can improve accessibility.
  • Grab bars: Install grab bars in bathrooms and near walkways to provide additional support.
  • Accessible showers: Consider a walk-in shower with a shower seat for safe bathing.

Comfort and fit

Using a wheelchair or scooter that doesn't fit properly can lead to discomfort, pressure sores, and back pain. Here's how to ensure optimal comfort:

  • Proper sizing: Get measured by a qualified professional to ensure your wheelchair or scooter is the right size for your body.
  • Seat cushions and backrests: Choose appropriate seat cushions and backrests that provide pressure relief and support your posture.
  • Adjustable features: Opt for mobility aids with adjustable features like armrests, leg rests, and seat height for personalised comfort.
  • Regular breaks: Take regular breaks while using your mobility aid to avoid fatigue and
  • Proper clothing and footwear: Wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing that allows for ease of movement. Avoid wearing loose shoelaces or clothing that could get caught in the wheels.

Where to buy equipment to help with your mobility

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

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  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.



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