The League of Friends has very generously funded the purchase of a new fleet of wheelchairs for visitors to use when attending Salisbury District Hospital.
This significant improvement is the result of a lengthy process, which started by identifying the requirements we were looking for in a chair, both from the user perspective as well as engineering and safety. We asked representatives from our team of volunteers and the League of Friends’ members to give views as potential users. Then the Trust staff, such as Porters, Manual Handling Experts, Medical Engineers and Infection Control specialists were asked to contribute and ensure we purchased a device which was fit for purpose in a busy hospital environment.
Essential qualities identified were that they must be lightweight and easy to steer, have an easy to operate and effective braking system, be easy to get into and out of, easy to clean and, importantly, be of a robust design to be able to tolerate the significant wear and tear the chairs receive, including often being left outside in the car parks in all weathers. Once we narrowed down the wheelchair styles on the market, we considered two chairs loaned to us. This ensured that those involved in the selection process could come and try them out to verify that they met our criteria and were worthy of the investment. After various delay caused by the pandemic we were delighted to put them into use just before the Easter weekend 2021.
Feedback has been very positive with one visitor commenting that they were “much better than the ones I used in other hospitals”. Their bright, cheerful colours, which reflect the colours in the League of Friends logo, means that they are easy to identify and differentiate from the heavier ‘portering’ style chairs on site. They have a squeeze and release braking mechanism next to the handles which is easier to use for those with poor balance or mobility than locking castors on wheels. It also means that the brakes operate automatically, which is both a useful and a safer option – those of you who know our site will know we are built on a hill so there are some steep slopes to negotiate! An automatic braking system stops wheelchairs rolling away out of control, with or without passengers. The footrest lifts to allow ease of entry for users entering the chair from the front and each arm also lifts up out of the way if required. This is very helpful if a user needs to transfer into the chair from the side. The wheelchair can be pulled alongside so they can slide across from another chair or out of a car.
Such was the success of these wheelchairs that the League have agreed to fund the growth of the fleet to 25 in 2022.
Medical Device Safety Officer and Decontamination Lead, Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust
27 January 2022
Our staff at Salisbury District Hospital have long been well regarded for the quality of care and treatment they provide for our patients and for their innovation, commitment and professionalism. This has been recognised in a wide range of achievements and it is reflected in our award of NHS Foundation Trust status. This is afforded to hospitals that provide the highest standards of care.