Tips for Buying a Wheelchair

Wheelchairs can be a tremendous benefit for people with balance or mobility issues. Those issues can be the result of aging, illness, or injury. Before purchasing any mobility assistance equipment, you should be evaluated by a health professional. Once you’re ready to buy a wheelchair, there are many things to consider in the selection process.

Types of Wheelchairs

Basically, there are three types of wheelchairs, each with different options to consider based on lifestyle and other factors. Each type of wheelchair is best in specific situations.

Attendant Propelled Wheelchairs

As the name suggests, attended propelled chairs are pushed by someone else. These are most often used in a controlled environment when there is serious risk of falling or the person in the chair is unable to propel themselves. Most often, these are used in hospitals and other care facilities or at home when there is 24/7 care.

Self-Propelled Wheelchairs

Self-propelled wheelchairs are ideal for people with arm strength and the ability to wheel themselves. Although someone may also push them from behind, it’s less likely to be the case. The chairs tend to be lighter weight, but also sturdy and are somewhat easier to maneuver in tight spaces than the next option – power chairs.

Power Wheelchairs

Power chairs are ideal for people who aren’t able to push themselves, but also do not require around the clock care. For example, people with arthritic hands or carpal tunnel syndrome. Power chairs include a small motor and hand control which the patient uses to control direction and speed.

Things to Consider When Buying a Wheelchair

Regardless of the type of wheelchair you need, there are many other features to take into account. It’s likely you’ll be spending a significant amount of time in the chair, so it needs to be comfortable and ergonomically correct.


In order to achieve maximum comfort, look at what can be adjusted on your chair. Foot rests, back rests, arms, and in the case of power chairs, even the height may need to be appropriate for your size and weight.


The seats and arms of many wheelchairs can be firm or stiff and uncomfortable. Look for padded seats and arms or considering adding them as an after-market accessory.

Weight Limits

Manufacturers set different maximum weights based on the materials used to build the wheelchair. Particularly in the case of bariatric care, ensure the weight limits are appropriate for your needs.


In the case of self-propelled and attendant propelled chairs, you want a wheelchair that is easy to fold and transport. Lightweight construction and single-hand folding ability can greatly increase independence.


Think about where you’ll be using your wheelchair. Some chairs are meant for only indoor use while others can be both indoors and outdoors. Manufactures use different materials and wheels for chairs that will be used outside.


If buying a self-propelled chair, be sure the wheel grips are comfortable and easy to reach. In the case of an attendant propelled chair, look for handles on the back that are comfortable and easy to grip.


By consider each of these factors and talking with medical care professionals, you’ll be able to find the right wheelchair for your lifestyle.


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More information

Please note: VAT is removed in the checkout process

In the UK, disabled people do not have to pay VAT when buying certain disability aids and services (This can be claimed by friend or family member purchasing on their behalf). Not everything supplied to disabled people is necessarily zero-rated for VAT. Goods and services on which you do not have to pay VAT are usually known as 'zero-rated' or 'eligible for VAT relief.

Who is eligible for VAT relief?

You must be 'chronically sick or disabled' to qualify for VAT relief. The HMRC comment on this is as follows. A person is 'chronically sick or disabled' if they either:

VAT Relief on our Disability Aids

All products on the Aids for Mobility website are flagged with an option to claim VAT relief during Checkout if it applies to that item. When you add a zero-rated product or service to your Basket, you will be asked to tick a checkbox to confirm that you, or the person for whom you are buying the item, are eligible for VAT Relief.

How VAT relief works

If you are claiming VAT Relief you will be asked to complete an extra few questions during Checkout, where we will ask you to provide brief details of your disability and confirmation that the product is for 'personal or domestic use'. We will keep a record of this declaration along with your order details. You can then buy the product(s) in your Basket at a price that excludes VAT. You will be asked to make this declaration each time you place an order that includes zero-rated products. It is a legal requirement that we record this information for every order, and we apologise for the inconvenience.

More information from HMRC

You can find out more about VAT Relief for disabled people on the HM Revenue and Customs website. If you cannot find the answer to your questions there or would prefer to speak to an adviser, you can call their Helpline on 0845 302 02 03.

The helpline is open from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm, Monday to Friday. (Closed weekends and bank holidays).