Partnership working benefits young wheelchair users in Tower Hamlets

17 JANUARY 2017

An innovative project to jointly provide advanced wheelchair equipment to young people in Tower Hamlets is already proving a huge success.

Launched in 2014, the partnership between Whizz-Kidz, Barts Health NHS Trust, East London NHS Foundation Trust and Tower Hamlets Council aims to ensure young people have the best possible wheelchair equipment for their needs and provided in the most efficient way possible. In the past it was common for wheelchair users to receive separate pieces of equipment, such as a wheelchair for home use and static chairs for both home and school. Now, through joint funding from health and social care partners, the needs of young wheelchair users can be met with a single, more suitable piece of equipment.

Partnership working benefits young wheelchair users in Tower Hamlets

Nick Goldup, Director of Partnerships at Whizz-Kidz, said: “It’s great to be working in partnership with local health and social care organisations here in Tower Hamlets.

“The project has so far benefitted over 80 young wheelchair users in the area and many more will benefit in the future. Not only are young people telling us how happy they are with their new equipment, but we’ve also calculated this joined-up way of providing equipment has collectively saved the local health and social care system around £500,000.”

“It really is a win-win situation for all involved!”

Nineteen-year-old Fahim lives in Tower Hamlets and was provided with a new riser chair in 2015 as part of the initiative.

Fahim said: “My new wheelchair has a riser which has made life a lot easier for me. With my old standard wheelchair, I’d need someone to help me, or something to grab hold of. With a riser this isn’t a problem anymore.

“I definitely feel more independent now I have my new wheelchair. Even for simple things like going to the bathroom or reaching something high on a shelf, I don’t need to ask for help. Things are generally more straightforward now and I can do more for myself, which is important to me.”

The initiative has involved creating a team of project leads representing each partner organisation. They work together to decide how best to fund individual equipment requests on a case-by-case basis.

Alex Hadayah, project lead for Barts Health NHS Trust and Tower Hamlets Council, added: “We recognised that we could really improve users’ lives by jointly funding equipment and improving the service we provide as a result. The aim is to join up our work and make a real difference for young wheelchair users in the area.”