There are increasing numbers of wheelchair users in the UK. Currently 11 million people in the UK are living with long term illnesses that are limiting including disabilities or impairments. Statistically one or more wheelchair users inhabit 3.3% of UK households.
The population of wheelchair users is increasing greatly as the population ages, in fact those with a disability or impairment are over 60. In response to this, there has been much recent attention and effort given to improving access and equality for wheelchair users including the increase in buses with low-floor wheelchair access from 52% to 95%.
Inequalities in society and particularly healthcare for those with physical impairments, have been given significant attention. Under the Equality Act, all service providers are now legally obliged to take equality into consideration, where all elements of care are concerned including access. Therefore it is important that GDPs (general dental practitioners) have the information necessary to minimise inequalities in access.
People with disabilities living in the UK, can be referred to their local NHS Wheelchair Centre for assessment. Under the DLA (Disability and Living Allowance) funding may be available for further support including a car, a scooter or an outdoor electric wheelchair.
The International Organisation of Standardisation suggests specific space requirements for corridors, doorways and corners which mean be useful when designing and planning a new dental surgery or when acquiring equipment to allow wheelchair users better access. Eg. A particular dental surgery in Brighton city centre has, for the past 30 years, run its surgery from the top floor of a small Georgian terrace but with two very steep and narrow staircases to manoeuvre, over the years, they have lost out on a large demographic of local business, including the more elderly and infirm.
Some dental patients who use wheelchairs can manoeuvre themselves into a dental chair whereas others need extra support. Design Specifics Wheelchair recliner, a compact, ergonomic design made from lightweight alloys weighing only 370 kilos which allows dentists to treat patients in a seated position and has a fully adjustable backrest suitable for nearly all types of wheelchair including both manual and electric. Designed to rise on ball castors for easy movement, this innovative and state of the art design makes it very transportable and easily moved through any doorway.
If you are unsure as to how much assistance and the extent of support to give to your patients, our detailed guidelines come directly from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
For more information and advice on our bariatric dental chairs, contact us today or visit us online