Buying a Wheelchair? Accept Only What You Want!

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

new wheelchair not new anymore

Six months later, I am still trying to see the day when my new wheelchair will really be mine and be done correctly.

Getting the approval by the insurance company was a monumental task on its own, getting the wheelchair and the cushion from the manufacturer to the distributor was a nightmare.

If you are in the process of getting a new wheelchair or mobility aid then you might want to remember to do a few things.

Wheelchair Process Take ONE!

First, get a notebook that you can keep with you to jot down people’s names, the time you spoke with them, and if possible get exact quotes from them. Products and services for the disabled is a multi-million dollar and it is up to you to make sure that these companies deliver the product that suits your needs so they can keep their millions.

I’d like to point out the myth that we should be grateful for these products and services because our insurance or government programs cover the majority of the cost for these items as if we are some poor pathetic charity case should be squashed, stomped and rolled out of our minds.

Let’s twist this story around. If we weren’t disabled they wouldn’t be making these products and delivering these services. So who should be grateful to whom? Right?

Enough said!

Respect the Wheelchair User

Secondly, you need to follow up on every conversation with any person who makes a promise to deliver a product or service within a certain time and make sure that it is the product you need and ordered to begin with.

Don’t allow them to think that you are sitting there with nothing to do but to wait for their arrival even if they do have your mobility aid. Your time is as valuable as theirs.

If you can meet with the supervisor or the person who appears to have the power to make things happen then it would be in your best interest to make an appointment to discuss your needs and your expectations.

Our society has become so fast paced and results orientated that we forget that there are people attached to these products and services. So placing a face to the product can go a long way for you and the mobility aid company.

Wheelchair Arrives! Yippee! Not so fast.

The biggest mistake we can possibly make as mobility aid users is to assume that once the product is delivered to you, the relationship between you and the company is over.

In fact, this is where it can actually get down right critical. Don’t sign off on the product until you have tested it for at least three days. They might ask you to sign to admit that you received the product but right next to your signature you should write that you are not admitting ownership of it until you have tested the product for at least three days.

During those three days, do everything you would ever think of doing with that product.

For example, I had four days to test my new wheelchair which gave me enough time to realize that the cushion was driving me crazy, the wheelchair left me feeling unsafe, and yearning for my old wheelchair.

It wasn’t even a matter of getting used to the new wheelchair which is something I did consider while trying out the new wheelchair.

I remembered the conversations I had with Miguel, the company’s wheelchair representative. I told him that the reason I needed a new wheelchair was because the old wheelchair was too old. If I could clone the old wheelchair, I would be thrilled.

Every Inch Counts for a Wheelchair User

When the new wheelchair arrived, I immediately noticed the differences even the slightest inch. Let’s face it, when it comes to a wheelchair every inch counts.

My seat was off by a half an inch and I could feel the difference. I didn’t think it would be this difficult or take this long considering they took the serial number off of the old wheelchair.

This brings me to my last piece of advice. Don’t assume that because the company has been in the business forever, they know what you need.

Become a part of the process from the moment you decide you need a mobility aid to the minute you feel happy with your purchase. Remember, without you there is no them.

What’s been your experience ordering a wheelchair?

I’d love to know! Tell me in the comments.

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