Looking after your Scheme product: tips from a powered wheelchair user

Disability blogger Emma Muldoon is a Scheme customer and full-time powered wheelchair user. In this article, Emma shares her personal tips on how to care for her powered wheelchair and gets advice from a Motability Scheme dealer on how to keep a mobility aid in top working condition.

Following a regular maintenance routine helps keep your powered wheelchair in good working order. Wheelchairs are like cars and need to be serviced to make sure they get us from A to B without any issues and to prevent breakdowns. Here are some easy ways to look after your powered wheelchair.

Charge the battery

One of the most important ways to keep your powered wheelchair in tip-top condition is to charge it regularly. Even if you are not using it for long periods of time, it’s best to charge it. The easiest and simplest time to charge your powered wheelchair is when you are sleeping. I charge my wheelchair overnight to ensure the battery is fully charged for the next day. You should try not to let the battery drain completely, as this can cause damage.

If you notice the battery is not holding a full charge or you are running out of power faster than usual, then you may need to replace the batteries. As a part of your worry-free lease package with the Motability Scheme, you can get in touch with your local dealer who will be able to fit the replacement batteries for you.

General maintenance

Over time, things like nuts, bolts and electrical connections can become loose. These should be kept tight and secure at all times. It’s best to speak to your dealer as soon as you notice if parts are becoming loose/worn or if it’s making a strange sound.

Your dealer should be able to find the issues, and then either reassure you, or come to see you if necessary.

My powered wheelchair kept breaking down due to a faulty loose cable connected to my controller. This happened several times when I would drive down curbs and across roads, which made my wheelchair lose power. This was frustrating but also dangerous. Now I make sure all cables and other parts are checked and my wheelchair is serviced on a regular basis by my dealer.

Routine services and maintenance are included as part of your full lease package with the Scheme. This includes any routine repairs in your agreement at no extra cost.

Keep it clean

 Just like giving your car a spring clean or taking it to a car wash, it’s important to keep your mobility aid clean too.

It’s not surprising that powered wheelchairs gather up lots of dust, dirt and even hair. By adding cleaning to your powered wheelchair maintenance routine, you will help keep it working at its best for longer.

If you have a wheelchair with a power pack, the safest way to clean it is by wiping it down with a damp cloth or sponge. This will make sure that water does not get inside the mechanical workings of your wheelchair causing rust or stopping it from working properly.

Regularly washing the cushion covers by hand or in the washing machine can stop the build-up of dust, dirt and sweat to keep the material in good condition.

With any electric mobility aid, it’s important to keep the wheelchair controller covered from water to stop it from getting damaged. Again, I’ve learned from this mistake after being caught in a heavy rain shower, which caused the buttons on my controller to stop working. The whole controller unit had to be replaced.

Tyre damage

If you’re at home when you notice tyre damage, simply call your Motability Scheme dealer and arrange a time for the repair. If you’re out and about when a tyre is damaged, and you can’t get home, call Motability Assist on 0800 953 5000. They will arrange to get you and your scooter or powered wheelchair home and where possible repair the puncture.

Find out more

Check tyre condition

Much like cars, powered wheelchairs also need tyre replacements from time to time. Rough, uneven terrain and the distance travelled will cause gradual wear and tear to the tyres.

You should check if the tread is worn or bald in any areas and make an appointment to have them replaced as soon as possible. The condition of the tyres is important because it can lead to performance and safety issues with steering or cause the battery to drain faster.

Dirt, grime, dust, hair and twigs can build up and get stuck in the wheels, but regular cleaning will help keep the casters/wheels working well. If you’re a Motability Scheme customer and suspect there’s something wrong with your tyres then please contact your dealer, who will be more than happy to check your tyres for you. 

Maintenance tips from a Motability Scheme dealer

As a Motability Scheme customer, your dealer is there to help and support you throughout your lease. I spoke to Scheme specialist Tracy, from Parkgate Mobility in Yorkshire, to get his answers to some key questions on powered wheelchair maintenance.

How often should my powered wheelchair be serviced?

Regular servicing is very importance to the safe reliable use of any powered mobility equipment. We recommend that your powered wheelchair is serviced annually to keep it in tip-top condition.

By keeping a record of service intervals, you will know when a service is due, however, your Motability Scheme dealer should contact you when your next service is due.

Depending on usage it may be necessary to have your powered wheelchair serviced more regularly. Again, your dealer should give you advice about servicing requirements.

What do I do if I have a technical fault?

Contact your local Motability Scheme dealership as soon as possible and explain what the issues are. They will be able to tell you if the equipment is still safe to use or not. For minor technical faults, it may be possible to continue to use the equipment while they arrange an engineer to visit.

I have air-filled tyres, what checks do I need to carry out?

First of all, look to see if the tyres are properly inflated. You can check this by looking at the tyre to see if the bottom appears flatter than normal and also by pressing the tyre with your thumb to see if it feels under or over-inflated.

Can I, or my carer, pump my product’s tyres up myself? 

Yes, you can pump your powered wheelchair’s tyres yourself if you are physically able to do so. Make sure that you always inflate to the recommended pressure as outlined in the user manual. But do not forget that your dealer is there to assist you through your lease, so will be more than happy to help if you’re unable to pump your own tyres.

How do I keep my battery from going flat?

Follow the recommended charging procedure as outlined in the manual. We recommend a good, long overnight regular charge.

Try not to get into the habit of short charges and do not wait until the battery is flat before you charge. If you do not use the equipment for a long period of time, then put your powered wheelchair on charge every now and again so that the batteries do not go flat.

What’s the best way to look after my battery?

Modern-day batteries are maintenance-free but do need regular charging. If you follow the above advice, you should get good service from a set of batteries.

The good thing about battery-related problems is that it usually happens over time. This means the powered wheelchair will not just stop working. You’re likely to get a warning in advance which should give you enough time to contact your dealer before the issue gets worse.

What’s your top tip for wheelchair maintenance?

Getting your powered wheelchair or scooter serviced regularly is my number one tip. If you’re a Motability Scheme customer, then annual servicing is included as part of your worry-free lease package, so make sure you do not miss out on your yearly appointment.

Plus, the batteries are the lifeblood of your powered wheelchair so try to get into good charging habits.

Servicing your product

If you’re a Motability Scheme scooter and powered wheelchair customer then regular servicing and maintenance are included as part of your worry-free package. Dealerships are now starting to open with many now booking servicing appointments. Click the link below for more information on what you can expect when your product is serviced.

Find out more

To read more from Emma, please visit her blog Simply Emma

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