Discover Equipment for Seniors To Enhance Independent Living 


There are many different types of wheelchairs. We can help you choose the right wheelchair for your needs. 

  • Self propelled; these have large wheels at the rear so the user can propel themself 
  • Transit or attendant propelled wheelchairs; these have smaller wheels at the rear and are designed to be pushed by a carer or attendant. 

Both self propelled wheelchairs and transit wheelchairs can be purchased from a medical equipment store or even a pharmacy.  We generally refer to these as “off the shelf”. Some of the features to look for include:

  • total wheelchair weight
  • removable parts (such as wheels and footrests that can reduce the overall weight when transporting
  • folding parts such as seat, footplates and backrests which makes them more compact to transport
  • attendant brakes; these are brakes on the push handles which help the attendant control the speed of the wheelchair when pushing down slopes
  • tension adjustable backrests to provide more custom back support.
  • adjustable armrests for more custom support and to enable wheelchair to be pushed up to a cafe table or desk.
  • Some wheelchairs come in a choice of different seat widths. 

Off the shelf wheelchairs are great for occasional or short community outings such as a trip to the grocery store with a carer, hospital appointments, garden centre visits, lunch at a cafe etc. 

When shopping for a wheelchair it is important that both user and carer are involved in the process. Make sure the sales assistant takes time to go through the features. If weight is important, ask if you can take the wheelchair to the carpark to check you can manage to lift it in and out of the car. An experienced sales assistant should be able to provide a few tips and tricks to help with this. 

Specialised or scripted wheelchairs

If you are spending most or all of the day in a wheelchair a scripted wheelchair should be considered. As the name suggests, these wheelchairs are individually prescribed for the user. A wheelchair can be built to fit the user's unique body shape. This results in a comfortable chair, improving posture and minimising the risk of pressure injury and pain.  These chairs are highly adaptable and adjustable meaning that, if the user's body shape or function changes, the chair can be adapted to fit. If the user propels themself, the adjustability means changes can be made to the propulsion to maximise efficiency. 

Purchase of a scripted wheelchair needs an OT Assessment.

The OT will assess the clients medical and physical issues, assess the environment where the wheelchair will be used and also take a series of body measurements from the client. These measurements are then shared with a wheelchair company representative and trials of the wheelchairs arranged where the final script can be completed. 

Scripted wheelchairs can seem expensive, but their flexibility, supportive posture, comfort and pressure relief can be invaluable considering the time the user spends in them. 

Tilt in space Wheelchairs

These wheelchairs are designed to give maximum comfort and support for our more dependent clients. They are excellent for the user who has difficulty changing position or altering their own posture. They can help to compensate for postural issues which can maximise good, functional posture for activities such as feeding, drinking, interacting with others and sleeping. The tilt in space function allows a carer to tilt the frame back for the user to rest comfortably, keep the head supported, elevate the legs and shift pressure to maintain healthy skin and reduce the risk of pressure injury. 

“my favourite feature about these wheelchairs is the freedom it gives user and carer to enjoy sitting in different locations. For my more disabled clients, they have the option of sitting and reclining lounging wherever they choose; their lounge room, back veranda, the local oval or even the boardwalk by the beach! It provides more scope for greater stimulation and a better quality of life.” Hazel

Wheelchair Power Pack

A wheelchair power pack is an attachment that can be added to a manual wheelchair to provide motorised assistance, enabling easier propulsion and reducing physical strain for the user.

Powered Wheelchairs

These are wheelchairs that have an electric motor and joystick for the user to ride from A to B. 

Even the lightest powered wheelchairs are heavy and, if used incorrectly or without care, can inflict a nasty injury to the user or other pedestrians. Those responsible for purchasing a powered wheelchair need to ensure the user is capable of using it safely and responsibly. This includes consideration to hand function, cognitive ability and eyesight. 

There are off the shelf versions of powered chairs as well as fully scripted versions. 

Off the shelf powered wheelchairs are certainly cheaper but to keep the cost down the main consideration is that they offer very little adjustability and can therefore be less functional and not as future proof. 

 Some considerations are:
  • can the seat position be altered eg tilted or reclined?
  • can the armrest height be adjusted eg to fit under cafe tables? 
  • can the footrest height be adjusted so feet can be supported comfortably
  • a footrest can be a a trip hazard, how easy is it to remove when getting in and out of the chair?
  • advertised as “folding” verses “portable”. Check the weight of powered wheelchairs that fold small enough to fit in a car boot. Some are still 25-30kg which is heavier than the recommended weight that should be lifted

Scripted Powered Wheelchairs

As with scripted wheelchairs above, these are powered wheelchairs, individually prescribed for the user. A scripted powered wheelchair can be built to fit the user's unique body shape. This results in a comfortable chair, improving posture and minimising the risk of pressure injury and pain.  These chairs are highly adaptable and adjustable meaning that, if the user's body shape or function changes, the chair can be adapted to fit. 

A scripted wheelchair needs an OT Assessment. The assessment will include questions about how the user wants to use the powered chair eg indoors, outdoors, amount of time spent in it etc. OT will take a medical history including cognition, eyesight, postural issues and pressure care needs. A series of body measurements will also be taken. These are then shared with a wheelchair company representative and trials of powered wheelchairs arranged.  During the scripting process the wheelchair is fitted to the user.  Driving skills and safety awareness will be assessed

Mobility Scooter

Mobility scooters are battery-powered vehicles designed for individuals with mobility challenges, offering a convenient and efficient means of transportation for short to moderate distances.

Many individuals use their mobility scooter to maintain independence with community activities such as accessing local shops, cafe’s and social groups.

Scooters can be fitted with a cane or walker holder so that, once parked, the user can transition to their walking aid.

Look out for features such as swivel seat, adjustable tiller and height-adjustable armrests. 

More powerful scooters cope better with hilly terrain and uneven ground. 

Mobility Scooters can be stored and charged outside with a cover to protect them from the elements. 

Mobility scooters can be folding and portable so they can be transported in a car boot. When purchasing a mobility scooter, the person transporting the scooter should be involved in the process and practice taking the scooter apart and back together as it can be fiddly and involve manual handling tasks such as lifting, bending and squatting.

As with powered wheelchairs, if used incorrectly or without care, mobility scooters can cause serious accidents and significant injury. Those responsible for purchasing a mobility scooter need to ensure the user is capable of using it safely and responsibly. This includes consideration to hand function, eyesight, cognitive ability eg safety awareness, reaction times and problem solving skills. 

When a request is made for a mobility scooter to be funded with government funding such as a home care package, an OT assessment is required. 

Pressure Relieving Mattresses and Cushions

Specifically designed mattresses and cushions focus on preventing pressure sores by distributing body weight evenly, enhancing comfort, and supporting skin integrity.

Pressure relief products can be expensive because of the research and testing carried out to ensure their effectiveness.

Effective pressure relief is achieved through a combination of good positioning, immersion, and reducing friction and shear forces when sitting or lying down. 

Pressure relieving can be achieved by air, gel or different types of foam.

The market for pressure relieving products is vast. For example, some pressure cushions are designed to work better on wheelchairs, others can work on an armchair, some mattress’s only work well on hospital style beds.

We look holistically at the individual's issues. The occupational therapist has a knowledge across the whole range of products available and will be able to advise you which would work best for your individual needs. 

There are times when even purchasing the most expensive cushion or mattress, will not bring relief. This is because it is sometimes the chair or bed itself is causing pressure issues and needs to be changed to reduce the risk of pressure injury and inporve comfort.  The OT will advise when this is the case as they carry out their assessment.  This is a good example of why we like to assess clients in their home environment. 

Wherever possible, pressure relieving cushions and mattress’ need to be trialled before a purchase is made. Regardless of clinical effectiveness, comfort is subjective. To achieve the best outcome a joint visit to an equipment store by client and therapist, or an in home trial, is highly recommended.

Electric Bed

Electric beds are adjustable beds powered by motors, allowing users to change positions easily for comfort and convenience, especially for those with mobility or health challenges.  There are many different makes and models available. Many have very little resemblance to the traditional electric that you find in a hospital. 

Your Occupational Therapist will be able to talk you through the functions an electric bed that will be clinically valuable to you. This can help avoid inappropriate and costly mistakes when purchasing. The OT may even be able to support the bed being purchased or hired through a funding body.

Riser Recliner Chair

Riser recliner chairs provide a combination of lift and recline features, supporting individuals in comfortably getting up from and sitting down into the chair, enhancing accessibility. Some powered chairs have additional motors which can provide more support for the low back and neck.

When assisting a client to find a suitable chair, they will usually take their body measurements. The seat height, depth, width, armrest height, back rest style and height are all taken into account. This helps to reduce pain, maximise comfort, pressure relief and independence.

Aesthetically, the chairs are usually available in a range of colours and finishes to suit all tastes. Our therapists are very sensitive to the importance of aesthetics.  

Your OT will be able to direct you to models of chairs to trial in store. Where the chair will be funded by a funding body,  is usually a requirement for the OT to accompany the client when trialling chairs. They will be clinically evaluating each chair trailed to ensure the most suitable chair is funded. 

Minor Mods (Ramps And Rails)

Minor modifications like ramps and handrails are installed in homes to improve accessibility and safety, facilitating easier entry and exit for individuals with mobility concerns. 

Other, relatively simple modifications that can have a dramatic functional effect include looking at the safety of floor surfaces, advising on slip resistant coatings, advising on lighting and colour contrast.

Major Bathroom Modification

Major bathroom modifications involve making structural changes to the bathroom space to make it more accessible, improving safety and independence. These can include altering the door and door frame, cutting down the side of the bath to improving access, removing a bath and replacing with a level access shower, changing the toilet and vanity for wheelchair access.

The OT can advise if the modification can be funded or subsedised by a funding body. If privately funded, the OT can help ensure the design will be practical, functional and futureproof as well as looking good. 


A bidet is a hygiene fixture that sprays water for personal cleansing, particularly beneficial for individuals with reduced hand function and dexterity or those seeking enhanced cleanliness. At the press of a button the bidet can both wash and dry the user.

A bidet can be retrofitted to your toilet and need to be plumbed in by an experienced plumber. 

Speak to your OT for more details. 

Major General Modification (Ramp/Handrails/Kitchens)

Major general modifications encompass broader adaptations to living spaces, including ramps, handrails, modification to ovens, stove tops, kitchen cupboards enhancing overall accessibility, safety and prolonging independence. 

Platform Lift

Platform lifts are devices designed to transport individuals with mobility challenges between different levels of their home, facilitating accessibility.


Stairlifts are motorised chairs attached to a rail, allowing individuals to move up and down stairs effortlessly, offering a practical solution for those with limited mobility.

Manual Handling Equipment

Manual handling equipment is designed to significantly reduce the risk of injury to individuals and their carers when standing, walking and transferring. 

This can include the following:

  • Slidesheets: help a carer move someone in bed without lifting
  • Transfer belts: These are also called walking belts. These belts are adjustable and fastened by either velcro or a clip. When secured around the waist, they have handles on the outside which the carer can use to provide support when supervising the wearer to stand or walk. If the wearer is a little unsteady it can help them to regain their balance or guide them safely when sitting. 
  • Standing lifter: These lifters work well to transfer the user safely from one item of furniture to another. These are used when the user has some ability to weight bear in standing but are unable to walk safely and consistently. Some standing lifters rely on the user being able to stand themself, others are motorised and will assist the user to stand. 
  • Electric Sling hoists: These lifters don’t require any active participation from the person being lifted. For safety two trained carers are recommended to operate this type of hoist. Trained carers know how to put the sling underneath the user. The sling is then attached to the hoist and the user is electronically lifted between bed and chair, wheelchair or shower commode. 

Your Occupational Therapist will be able to make recommendations on the manual handling equipment which best meets the needs of both user and carers. They can arrange an in-home trial to ensure the most suitable item is hired or purchased. This helps to reduced the risk of costly mistakes. Training can be completed to ensure family members and carers know how to use the equipment and are confident.

If you have any questions, please be in touch.