Contact&Connect: Wheelchairs

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Contact&Connect: Wheelchairs is an automated telephony approach to keeping in touch with wheelchair users and their advocates. Covering both complex wheelchair users and children with wheelchairs, the calls have been co-designed with occupational therapists working in this particular area.

Working alongside the more general community loan equipment approach, Contact&Connect: Wheelchairs automatically contacts service users prior to their regular review meeting to ask a standard set of questions. There are a number of drivers for the call; firstly to ensure the review is required, in some cases people are able to confirm they do not want/need a review, or in the case of children, parents/carers can confirm where they would prefer the review to take place, and whether they will attend.

For people confirming their upcoming review, they are then taken through a series of simple questions which start to encourage the service user advocate to really consider their wheelchair in more detail; including their comfort, mobility, positioning and aspirations. Having answered the questions prior to the assessment, wheelchair services are finding that wheelchair users/advocates are more focused in the face to face meeting, allowing reviews to be more targeted and personal.


Improving the review scheduling process

Prompting wheelchair users/advocates to think about mobility, aspirations, issues or requirements before the assessment appointment

Supporting a new parent co-designed approach to Children’s Wheelchairs

Catching potential health issues or potential to outgrow wheelchairs before they become critical

Reducing unnecessary assessments

Pre-identification of issues helping to make the assessment more personal and targeted

Ensures engagement with people who might not be being seen as regularly as the service would like

Helping wheelchair services to be ahead of the curve and manage their wheelchair contracts more efficiently


The Contact&Connect: Wheelchair script was co-designed with Sunderland Wheelchair Service (SWS), and is already proving successful in engaging with wheelchair users and their parents/carers. During the three month review, Head of Therapies/Deputy Chief Operating Officer Emma Anderson, said: “It’s helping us to genuinely understand how users want us to engage with them. We’ve found the approach really beneficial and really interesting, and I know we absolutely have to keep going with it.”

In time the calls will support over 3,000 wheelchair users per year, and shift the balance from reviews often being requested by families or service users, to being driven by the service. It will also reduce the time it takes to set up review appointments, as well as letters, calls and emails. Alongside the benefits of automating part of the review scheduling process and collecting information on how people are managing, the service has helped to identify those service users where contact details are out of date.

But by far the most important driver behind Contact&Connect: Wheelchair is to be ‘ahead of the curve’, in terms of having the key information in the core systems to support more personalised and informed reviews. SWS wants to ensure that children and complex adults do not outgrow their wheelchairs, understand whether their needs or aspirations have changed, that the wheelchair is not broken or out of date. By scheduling an automated call in advance of the review, means that this information is already logged and wheelchair users are primed for their review – making the review as responsive and relevant as possible.

Co-designed in partnership with Sunderland City Council

Sunderland City Council