Worrying picture of daily life for wheelchair users

We’ve just published the findings of a year long survey of Leuchie guests who are wheelchair users.  

For most of us, if we are fully mobile, it’s hard to imagine what it’s like to have to rely on a wheelchair to get about. It’s even harder to imagine being in that wheelchair for hours on end without being able to change position.

NHS Scotland guidelines currently recommend that anyone at high risk of developing pressure ulcers should not be seated for more than two hours without a change of position.

The majority of Leuchie guests are in this category and we were becoming increasingly concerned that this recommendation wasn’t achievable for most of them in their homes.

Over the course of 12 months we interviewed 100 of our wheelchair-using guests who are unable to get in and out of their chair without help.

We discovered that more than 70% spend seven hours or more in their wheelchair. 45% spend 10 or more hours in their chair. 43% do not move out of their wheelchair at all during the course of a typical day.

One of the main reasons behind this is that there is there was no one to help them move. Many over-stretched carers don’t have the time or the daily allocation of care visits to allow them to easily move the person they care for.

It can also be because there is no suitable alternative chair to move to. 65% don’t even have the kind of adjustable wheelchair that would at least let them temporarily shift their position.

These results reveal a worrying picture of daily life for a significant proportion of wheelchair users. If, as we suspect, our group is representative of all the people in Scotland living with long term conditions, then there are potentially thousands of people in a similar situation, who stay in their wheelchairs for hours at a time and are at risk of developing serious health complications.

We hope our findings will help start an active discussion about resolving these serious issues. The potential benefits to people with long term conditions would be enormous: improved health and wellbeing, a much better quality of life, even increased life expectancy.

Click here to read a summary of the results.

 

Mairi O'Keefe, CEO, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier, Thursday 21 July 2016.