It is important that before considering the ‘do’s and don’ts’ of wheelchair repair we understand and explore how to maintain the wheelchair. Topics such as correct storage, battery maintenance, cleaning and regularly checking the wheelchair enable you to ensure the product remains safe and productive in the long-term.
It is suggested that review your UM/SM to know the frequency of controls, so you can check of the wheelchair to pick up on any issues before they become too problematic. Things to look out for include:
- The wheelchair may feel more difficult to push in idle mode
- Brakes might not securely hold the wheelchair as well as they should
- Battery is not lasting as long
- Tears in material
- Visible low pressure in tyres
These are all likely to be simple things to resolve as part of good maintenance but ignoring them could lead to bigger problems and crucially limit the user’s independence or safety.
Become familiar with the user manual which contains a lot of information about safe use, storage, recharging and troubleshooting. The manual UM must be read by the user and assisting person when you first purchase the wheelchair to improve your understanding of the product to ensure you maximise its performance and therefore its ability to support the user.
When coming towards the service period, ensure that you are aware of appropriate procedures, requirements and whom to contact if you have any queries.
Service manual & documentation
The service manual contains all relevant information regarding timescales, service type and works needing to be completed.
On completion of the service ensure that you have a completed service checklist, much like when you have your car serviced, so that you have evidence of work carried out. This should be kept with your updated service record/manual along with records of any repairs or maintenance.
Ensure the wheelchair repair/service company are trusted and qualified to provide the service.
If you are calling a company because of a fault or to make repairs, be prepared with all of the details of the fault and chair. Being able to provide information such as model name or serial number means the engineer can arrive fully prepared which can increase the chances of a technician resolving the issue in one visit.
Any repairs need to be completed using original spare parts or the warranty will become invalid. This can be checked when you first contact the company to make a service booking.
Significant advancements in wheelchair technology have been made to improve not only user’s experience and activity levels but also to help user’s take more control of managing their chair and keeping it well maintained. This is something to consider when looking to upgrade. A good example of this is the support tools that come with the LiNX power control unit. Power wheelchairs with LiNX connect to an app that can provide diagnostics and user feedback. The system will update the user with information such as battery charge, fault information and drive time.
When arranging a wheelchair repair or service, the more complex or advanced the product is, the more critical it is that the work is carried out by regulated and manufacturer trained engineers.