Black folding frame that is lightweight and manually operated. It has removable armrests, swing-away footrests, an additional back bar, transit wheels and push handles.
Source of Wheelchair: Local NHS Wheelchair Services
Diagnosis: Ehlers Danlos Syndrome
Due to the sudden decline in my daughter Lauren’s health, she was either confined to a hospital bed or stuck at home by the age of 18. We knew we needed to look into getting a wheelchair and initially turned to the internet, but had no idea where to begin with our search. This is when one of Lauren’s consultants referred her to the NHS Wheelchair Services.
Initially, the department seemed very helpful. We discussed every aspect of Lauren’s disability, documented her height and weight and discussed her lifestyle. Lauren wasn’t eligible for a powered wheelchair because our house didn’t have a ramp, and we didn’t have a wheelchair accessible vehicle. So she was given two manual wheelchairs to choose from, but instantly opted for the Invacare Action 3 purely based on how it looked. Lauren hated the fact that every piece of equipment she was was given by Occupational Therapy and now Wheelchair Services, looked big, bulky and ugly. As a young adult, she didn’t want to use something that looked like it was from a hospital or care home.
The Invacare Action 3 is a lightweight manual folding wheelchair, available in both self-propel, transit and one arm drive models. As the frame only weighs 14.5kg, we opted for transit wheels to ensure the frame could easily be lifted in and out of our car once folded. You could also flick two leavers on either side of the backrest to fold it down, along with pressing two quick-release buttons to remove the swing-away footrests. Lauren opted for a mid-range backrest and a Matrix, Flo-Tech Lite seat cushion also made by Invacare. Although much to Lauren’s disappointment, you can only order these chairs via the NHS in a colour of your choice if you are under the age of 18! So she had no choice but to go with the standard matt black frame.
Sadly after waiting for 3 months for the wheelchair to be delivered, we were instantly disappointed with the product. The wheelchair was the wrong width and colour, the footplates were not right and the backrest did not support Lauren’s back in the slightest. Despite our disappointment, we were encouraged to try it out for a month before making any alterations. But Lauren didn’t even last a week before I recontacted Wheelchair Services to come and make some alterations. Somehow Lauren’s original order had gone missing so the technician had no idea what Lauren required, meaning once again we had to go through the entire order process to ensure she could have a reinforced backrest, a solid footplate as opposed to two individual footrests and wheelchair that fit her size. The width of the wheelchair was so much wider than requested that Lauren rattled around instead of being supported by a wheelchair that was made to fit her size!
I am sad to report that the second wheelchair was even worse than the first! Somehow they got the measurements wrong yet again, meaning Lauren now had a wheelchair that was even bigger than the original. Each of the alterations listed above took several months to complete, meaning Lauren was stuck without a functional wheelchair for nearly ten months. It was at this point that we knew we couldn’t continue to work with the NHS Wheelchair Services, as Lauren’s condition continued to decline, making her a prisoner in her own home. She needed to get out, whilst being in a comfortable, safe and specially made wheelchair.
To conclude, I would recommend this wheelchair to someone requiring a manual frame that is compact, lightweight and folding. It is perfect for people who have a disability/medical condition that can fluctuate in symptoms because you can easily change the height/angle of the footplate, backrest etc. Despite our negative experience, I couldn’t find any faults with the wheelchair, but because we received such bad customer service we felt as if we had no option but to go elsewhere! I completely understand that the NHS is bound by budgets, meaning you can only able to pick from a select range of wheelchairs and the adaptations. However, we have since learnt that many additional alterations could have been made to the Invacare Action 3 Wheelchair had we contacted a specialist retailer. So I recommend doing some research before putting your order in with your local Wheelchair Services!