Yesterday I had driving test in the TDX chair.
The test was very easy they started with manouvring around cones in the office and reversing between them and in reversing in a straight line. I’ve only ever driven a MWD (Mid Wheel Drive chair) once in my life – the week before, but still I found it very easy. The outdoor part I just had to drive it on the pavement and crossing roads to sainsbury’s supermarket and back. The clinic was just behind it about 5 mins away.
As I drive over much rougher terrain everyday when I take Inca out twice a day, I found it extremely easy.
Then they priced it up on what I needed on clinic/medical grounds and the TDX came to about £7,500!!! I thought as Invacare are the official supplier to NHS that they would pay that and I’d only have to pay if they didnt agree to the seat riser or wanted a different colour… I was wrong!
They will only pay for the cheapest option that meets my needs, The guy who supplies the chair said they would supply the NHS with a Quickie Salsa M for £3,800 ish (can’t remember exact figure now) and that would have both the Tilt-in-space and the seat riser on but only comes in one colour (red) and they don’t do custom colours on that model.
I’ve had a look at the pics and information from the brochure. It has independant suspension on each wheel and an anti-pitch mechanism so the back won’t tip forward when going down a forward slope and visa versa. I don’t know if I can manage to get a home demo as the company that supplies the wheelchair clinic seems to be the nearest Quickie dealer also and I already have an hour booked at clinic in my name.
So gonna take some measurements today and compare with the TDX which I have already had at home and know where it will fit. I might know better once I see the actual chair and sit in it.
I’m reserving judgement for now but I have other things to consider. Yes, I could afford to put the rest of the money to the TDX, but then I have less savings left and the new benefits overhaul is worrying me. As well as ending the one I am on which is my biggest income at moment, they are also changing the rules of Housing Benefit (HB) from next January HB will only pay the equivalent rent of a 1 bed place for a single person.
I was moved into a 2 bed adapted bungalow in 2006 as the 1 bed place was not big enough to get a manual chair around let alone a powered one! If I want to stay here and avoid moving, I have to find the difference between what HB will pay and how much this bungalow actually costs. At least I’m hoping they will offer me that choice and not just move me anyway to put 2 people in here! I’m not sure of my legal rights here, since they originally moved me here cos the 1 bed place was not adapted and there was nowhere else available.
Anyway I’m expecting to need to find at least around £500 a year to secure my home, depending on the difference in costs. so the money I was going to use for the chair would easily cover my rent for about the next five years (allowing for other costs going out too), so I have that to think about too when making my decision about my next chair.
I’m thinking unless I instantly hate the chair on sight, I might take the free one if I’m fairly sure I could get in the swing gate with it.
The A frame may not be possible as the lady said she wasn’t interested on whether the chair fitted my environment, only if it fitted me and with the TDX arms in as far as they could go (when it fitted through the A frame) she said was too tight against my hips and could cause pressure sores if sat in all day with no relief, so they would have to be widened.
I’m going to ask about the flip up footplate on the Quickie Salsa, as that would make tight spaces easier to negotiate (unofficially) very tight spaces, as officially you are not meant to drive it without feet securely on footplate! They tend to prefer to fit the traditional swing away type but I will try to argue that the calf support that comes with footplate may help keep my legs in position better.. though I guess they could just add calf pads then to the swing away ones!
The last thing to consider related to cost is that if I take the one the NHS are willing to supply they cover the repairs etc so if I was unlucky enough to get a faulty one first they have to pay to repair or replace it. Whereas if I take the vouchers and pay the other half for the TDX and that arrives faulty, I’m then responsible for all repairs!
I know from experience that chairs parts are much more expensive than scooter parts and repairs. My Vibe has been repaired about 4 times and each time has cost around £400 for parts and labour and shipping parts from US. Each time its been away for several weeks, I thought maybe if NHS are maintaining it for me I might get a quicker response and repair time and less hassle trying to get a replacement/loan chair if repairs were going to take weeks.
When I got the Vibe they guy said I would get a loan chair if repairs took a long time but I’ve never had one, they never actually have one available, but the NHS will have to provide me with SOMETHING until they fixed mine, so there are a few advantages to taking the one they are willing to supply for free.
So.. back to clinic in 2 weeks to try the Quickie Salsa and get measured up for that then I have to decide!