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Having the right equipment and aids can be crucial to independent living. Some may be related to a particular health need and others to support you on a daily basis.

Equipment from the National Health Service

Your local doctor can prescribe items from an approved list. These include:

  • elastic stockings
  • appliances for colostomies
  • some types of trusses or wound dressings
  • urinary catheters
  • pressure relieving cushions and mattresses
  • continence pads

Other health equipment available includes:

  • wheelchairs and walking aids
  • hearing and vision aids
  • artificial limbs and surgical appliances
  • communication aids

Your doctor can also refer you to specialist services for other kinds of health equipment. You can also approach these specialist services directly.

NHS wheelchair service

If it’s difficult for you to move around your home, even for a short time, a wheelchair may be the answer.

An occupational therapist or physiotherapist will assess your needs at home, in hospital or at your local National Health Service wheelchair service.

The NHS wheelchair service will help you choose a wheelchair that meets your needs. Extras include cushions, armrests or trays.

Costs and repairs

NHS wheelchairs are provided on loan for as long as they are needed.

If you only need one for a short time, the service will tell you how to get one from an organisation such as the Red Cross.

The NHS will pay for any servicing or repairs as long as they are not caused by misuse or neglect.

You will be given the number of the local approved repairer who will be responsible for repairs.

A therapist may agree you need a more expensive chair than the local service can offer. You may be able to get a voucher to pay the difference.

Powered wheelchairs

The service may be able to provide a powered indoor/outdoor wheelchair but only if their professional assessment recommends it.

Usually you will have to buy outdoor electric wheelchairs, electric scooters or specialist sports wheelchairs yourself.

The wheelchair service will be able to tell you about local distributors.

www.direct.gov.uk