Residents’ wheelchair needs changes after implementation of a provincial program

Ross McEachern

Purpose: People living in residential care facilities frequently have poor access to properly fitted wheelchairs. A provincial program to provide individually fitted lightweight wheelchairs for residents started in January 2016; however, no research has explored its outcomes.
Objectives: To evaluate seating needs of residents before and after implementation of a provincial wheelchair program and explore stakeholder’s perceptions of the program.

Methods: Wheelchair seating need was measured before and after program implementation with 22 residents, and interviews were completed with 6 stakeholders having experience with the provincial program.

Findings: Statistically significant reduction in seating need were observed, and the following themes were identified: meeting needs; saving time, money and stress; and the need for specialized equipment.

Conclusion: Our study provides preliminary evidence that improved access to individually fitted equipment can reduce the need for seating interventions. Future studies are needed to look at the cost benefits of these interventions.