Invacare Action 3
Tell us what your wheelchair looks like:
Black folding frame that is lightweight and manually operated. It has removable arm rests, swing away foot rests that were eventually replaced by a foot plate, an additional back bar, transit wheels and push handles.
How did you get this wheelchair:
From Wheelchair Services
Where did you get this wheelchair:
Local NHS Wheelchair Services
What would you rate this wheelchair:
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This wheelchair is really comfortable?Neutral
This wheelchair is easy to take apart?Strongly Agree
This wheelchair is easy to transport?Agree
This wheelchair is easy to use on public transport?
This wheelchair is great off road?
This wheelchair can go up or down a kerb/small step?Disagree
This wheelchair can easily be adapted?
Can you hang bags and equipment onto the wheelchair?
Do you have problems with the wheelchair tipping?
Only when loaded with too much baggage.
At the age of 18 my daughter Lauren was suddenly thrown into the world of wheelchairs, when her health began to spiral out of control. Due to the constant decline in Lauren’s symptoms, she was either confined to a hospital bed or stuck at home. Suddenly it was very difficult to move Lauren, so we knew we had to look into getting a wheelchair. We initially turned to the internet, but because nobody gives you a handbook when you receive a life changing diagnosis, we literally 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 electric 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 went 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. But at the time, we didn’t know what alternatives were available.
One of the main reasons we were given the option of the Invacare Action 3, was the fact it is a lightweight manual folding wheelchair, available in both self-propel, transit and one arm drive models. As mentioned above, Lauren wasn’t eligible for an electric wheelchair, so the one arm drive model was not an option. Therefore, she opted for the small transit wheels as opposed to the large self propel wheels, to ensure it fit in the small boot of our car. The staff demonstrated how easy it was to fold the frame, which began with removing the seat cushion and pulling the seat liner upwards to make the frame a lot narrower. You could also flick two leavers on either side of the backrest to fold it down, making the overall height shorter. Then if you opted for self propel wheels and/or swing away footrests, you can simply press a quick release button to remove them. The Action 3 weighs only 14.5kg, but obviously the weight can increase if you choose heavier modifications. We spent over an hour working out what size wheelchair Lauren would need; which seat cushion and back rest she found most comfortable; whether she wanted arm rests that could be removed; if she preferred fixed leg rests or ones that could swing away; as well as what colour frame she wanted. These decisions were relatively easy to make, as there were very few options. Lauren was adamant about having a bright coloured wheelchair, but at the time only paediatric wheelchairs could be built in various colours. So she opted to go with a maroon frame, as apposed to the usual black.
Sadly after waiting for 3 months for the wheelchair to me made and delivered, we were instantly disappointed with the product. First of all it looked very different to the Action 3 we saw at Wheelchair Services, due to the fact we had adapted many parts. The wheelchair was the wrong width and colour, the foot plates were not right and the back rest 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 calling 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. Once again we had to go through Lauren’s physical difficulties and explain why she needed a reinforced backrest, a solid footplate as opposed to two individual foot rests and wheelchair that actually fits her size. The width of the wheelchair was also much wider than requested; meaning Lauren rattled around instead of being supported by a wheelchair that was made to fit her size!
I have lost count of the number of times we had to go back to Wheelchair Services about their poor service, and inability to provide Lauren with a wheelchair that met her needs. They eventually removed the individual foot rests and replaced them with a single foot plate. They added a bar to the back of the wheelchair to make the backrest more rigid. They also added a padded back cushion that went right around Lauren’s sides, however it was so wide that it meant her legs were no longer supported by the wheelchair frame/seat cushion, making it very uncomfortable. They tried to make the wheelchair narrower, but we had no success as the frame can only be adjusted to a certain degree. Therefore they offered to order Lauren another Action 3 wheelchair, with the correct measurements and adjustments. However, 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 find out how Lauren found the perfect manual wheelchair, you can click at the bottom of this page to read her review.
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. Surprisingly, these small adjustments can really make a difference to the users comfort levels. However, I would not recommend going through the NHS Wheelchair Services! Due to the NHS budgets, you are only able to pick from a select range of wheelchairs and the adaptations they can make are also limited. We have since learnt that there were many alterations that could have been made to the Invacare Action 3 Wheelchair, had we contacted a specialist retailer.
Reviewer: Sharon (Carer of Wheelchair User)
Disability or Medical Condition: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome
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