Whether you’re shopping for a new wheelchair or need parts/service, picking a provider to help steer you in the right direction can feel overwhelming. After all, wheelchairs are expensive and everyone’s needs are different.
However, a simple rule of thumb is that a good provider acts as a guide, not a salesman.
In this guide, we offer invaluable tips to consider when choosing a wheelchair service provider. Let’s dive in!
Starting at the Beginning
The first important thing to consider is that shopping for a wheelchair isn’t the same as shopping for a bike or a car.
The experience places individuals among professionals, including therapists and doctors who are experts at helping those with disabilities.
These professionals have the wheelchair users’ best interests at heart. Technically, this is more of a medical process than a shopping spree, which is one of the reasons why selecting a wheelchair service provider is paramount.
Probably the best starting point for finding a reputable provider is by asking those you trust for recommendations.
This could be a medical professional, a friend, therapist, or family member who uses a wheelchair.
It also doesn’t hurt to do your own research online or in the local classifieds, but be thorough and look up customer reviews to get an idea about the provider’s reputation.
After you’ve made a list of providers that you like, it’s time to start making calls. Remember, the provider is there to help direct you towards the safest, most efficient options.
In the following section, we go over what to look for when talking with potential prospects. This is where the real work begins!
How to Choose a Wheelchair Provider
Wheelchair providers are not there to lead you on a wild sales goose chase. They’re not supposed to pressure you to buy a specific model or recommend that you go to their “buddy” for repairs.
As mentioned above, a wheelchair provider respects the consumer and takes the time to learn about their physical needs and lifestyle, directing them in the most knowledgeable and efficient manner.
Here are some of our top tips to help you choose a wheelchair service provider.
Ask About Qualifications
A good starting point for picking a wheelchair provider is to check for qualifications. There are two main qualifications under the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA):
- Assistive Technology Supplier (ATS)
- Assistive Technology Practitioner (ATP)
These are highly regarded standards that demonstrate wheelchair service proficiency. In fact, Medicare requires an ATS qualification.
To confirm a provider’s qualifications, you can usually find the certifications listed on their business card. You can also look it up in the RESNA directory.
After establishing the provider’s qualifications, it’s time to set up a consultation to discuss your needs and lifestyle in greater detail.
Look Out for Red Flags
Common sense is paramount when shopping for an expensive product like a wheelchair, and there are always red flags to beware of.
For instance, if a provider doesn’t take the time to ask you questions and instead jumps right to a specific model, they might be trying to sell instead of guide.
Reputable providers ask about your disability, living arrangements, positioning requirements, and transportation. Also, they should be willing to answer any questions you may have instead of rushing through the process.
Familiarize Yourself With the NRRTS Code of Ethics
NRRTS stands for the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers. This association was incorporated in 1992 to introduce a compliant process and code of ethics for providing wheelchairs.
We find their code of ethics to help navigate the sea of providers and understand what sets the best apart from the rest.
1. The provider demonstrates an understanding of the consumer’s operational, physiological, and specialized needs prioritizing communication and listening closely to the consumer.
If the provider is not sure about a topic, they should take the time to discuss this with another knowledgeable party who knows the customer. This could be a medical professional, family member, or specialist.
If the provider is not trained in a particular area, they should refer the customer to another knowledgeable party who can offer the best advice and resolution.
2. The provider is proactive and efficient, keeping appointments, processing documentation, arriving on time, and returning calls promptly.
3. The provider supplies the customer with multiple wheelchair options, up-to-date information, and advice on proper usage to meet the operational and physiological needs of the customer.
4. A thorough breakdown of the resolution process should be relayed to the customer, including the regulations of associated organizations.
5. The provider should let the customer know that they have the right to work with the vendor of their choice.
6. All of the costs and financing options are carefully explained by the provider, while also explaining the customer’s financial responsibility.
7. The consumer’s data is kept confidential.
8. The provider does what’s needed to guarantee the consumer receives safe, quality equipment and continuous support.
9. The provider oversees the purchasing, build, fitting, shipping, and follow-up service of the wheelchair.
10. The provider is respectful of all customers regardless of their disability, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religion.
Final Thoughts: Picking a Provider to Service Your Wheelchair
Purchasing a wheelchair or reaching out for service is best accomplished through a reputable provider, who should possess the expertise and courtesy to guide consumers in the right direction, not sell to them.
When picking a provider, remember to ask for their qualifications and expect questions. A reputable provider will spend time listening to you and learning about your physiological needs and lifestyle.
In turn, they should be able to answer your questions thoroughly, offering you several product choices instead of steering you towards one product and making you feel pressured to go with their choice.
Resources & References:
- Provider compliance Tips For Wheelchair Options & Accessories, cms.gov
- Eight Steps to Proper Wheelchair Provision, physiopedia.com