How to buy the right wheelchairs for your aged care patients

By: Yolanda Smith - MedicalSearch Writer
30 June, 2015

It is essential that your aged care facility is equipped with the optimal equipment to allow your patients to have the best experience.

With statistics showing that 80 per cent of aged care patients use a wheelchair every day, choosing the right wheelchair couldn't be more important.

Consider your patients

Patients have different needs, and the benefits and features of each wheelchair model are going to differ. It's therefore important to assess what your patients require and use this as a determining factor for selecting the right option.

How often will they need to use the wheelchair? Can they move independently for short distances, or will they always rely on the help of the wheelchair to move?

Will they be able to propel the wheelchair themselves or will they need assistance from your staff to push them? Alternatives such as electric-powered wheelchairs to help aid mobility may also be a valid option.

Think about the environment

Not only do you need to consider who is going to use the wheelchair, but also where it will be used. You are more familiar with the environment in your aged care facility than anyone else, and it's important to think about where the wheelchairs will be used.

Are they mainly for indoor or outdoor use? Wheelchairs for outdoor use are often built more sturdily to resist against more unpredictable terrain. Inside, there may be narrow passageways or doorways that require a more streamlined wheelchair model.

Portability and storage are also important considerations. If your aged care patients usually stay inside the facility, there may not be a need for the chair to fit inside a car. Instead, a bigger concern may be the storage space when it is not in use, which may lead towards the choice of a foldable design.

Recognise differences in wheelchair design

Each wheelchair is designed with specific purposes in mind. Large rear wheels are a favourable feature, as they allow for easy manoeuvring. Additionally, when the wheels are positioned on an adjustable axle closer to the front of the chair, less effort is needed to move it.

The optimal weight of the chair depends on how it will be used by your patients. Lightweight chairs are often preferable for aged care facilities, as they can usually fold easily for storage when not in use.

Finally, the size, angle and style of the seat change the comfort and functionality of the chair significantly. Likewise, the positioning of the foot, back and armrests can make a big difference and should be taken into consideration when you decide which wheelchairs are best for you.

Buying the right wheelchairs for your aged care patients comes back to three main factors: your patients, the environment and the specific features of the chairs. When you make your decision, it is important to balance these factors to choose the most suitable option for your patients.