Wheelchair & Cushion Procurement

Wheelchair & Cushion Procurement

Wheelchair and cushion procurement is defined as the process through which individuals obtain equipment or education designed to improve their wheelchair or wheelchair seating system.

For the wheelchair user, the wheelchair represents a variety of aspects of living. The wheelchair becomes part of the users’ self-identity, part of the work environment as well as an integral part of the physical and cultural environments of the user. Wheelchair procurement, therefore, requires careful consideration of all these elements, because the type of wheelchair selected, and its configuration have a powerful impact on the lives of wheelchair users.

Rapid changes in wheelchair technology and wheelchair seating options in conjunction with funding issues and demands for accountability have complicated the wheelchair procurement process for clients and therapists.

Wheelchair procurement rarely involves only the wheelchair user and the prescriber; often a variety of individuals have input during the process.

Choosing the wheelchair cushion is just as, if not more important as choosing the appropriate wheelchair. The wheelchair cushion must be able to provide you with optimum pressure relief. It is not recommended that you decide on a wheelchair cushion solely on subjective features such as texture, colour, cost. One of the most objective and reliable measures to help you decide on the correct cushion is a pressure mapping assessment as discussed below:

Seating Information Technology Laboratory – SIT LAB

The SIT Lab makes use of the dedicated expertise of rehabilitation therapists from various fields, in the use of state of the art technology. This technology is in the form of the Force Sensitive Application™, or FSA. Use of the FSA System enables the clinicians to make an informed decision regarding pressure distribution, postural symmetry and the effectiveness of the seating system and pressure relief in an objective and scientific manner.

This is achieved through measuring the pressures between the client and the cushion or backrest of the wheelchair in real time and is represented through a pressure map of the client.

All wheelchair cushions marketed in South Africa are available in the SIT Lab used to perform the pressure mapping. This is done to help identifying the best possible pressure relieving cushion for each client prior to purchase. Wheelchairs are procured and delivered to the clinic, for the client to try out prior to purchase.

Also included in our SIT Lab service:

• Client and family education programmes
• Appropriate wheelchair and cushion procurement
• Medico-legal assessments and reports
• Motivation for equipment
• Research and development
• Product assessment, reporting and endorsements

It is in your best interest to familiarise yourself with what your funder allocates for a wheelchair and a wheelchair cushion and how often they are willing to replace this equipment. Sometimes, it is fully covered and sometimes you do require to supplement the amount to get what is prescribed. There will be some funders that may not pay for equipment at all and you may need to save and budget for this and you may also have to settle for the next best option or second -hand equipment.

Every funder and funding system (WCA/ RAF) is different. Usually quotations from suppliers are required. Your therapy team will give you the names of the suppliers of the wheelchair and wheelchair cushion. Sometimes your suppliers will assist you with the application. In most cases there is a waiting period for an authorisation or approval before you can receive your wheelchair and cushion. Again, it is in your best interest to follow up with your funder as you ideally want to be discharged with your wheelchair and cushion.