Isabelle, 10, going off road thanks to new wheelchair scheme

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A scheme being trialled in Leeds is helping wheelchair users gain greater independence and confidence. Catherine Scott reports.

Isabelle Newton is now able to go on trips in the countryside thanks to a new scheme in Leeds.

The ten-year-old had struggled to get around in her NHS wheelchair when the family wanted to go off -road.

But now the introduction of personal wheelchair budgets in Leeds means that she has been able to get the chair she needs and also create her own style.

Personal wheelchair budgets (PWBs) are part of a national scheme that enables people to take charge of their own care by being able to control how their NHS funding is spent.

An estimated 200,000 people are expected to access personal health budgets in the next five years.

Isabelle wanted to express her personal style and able to get out and about with her family and friends without getting bogged down when going off road.

She used her budget to get a chair with brightly flashing castors and easily removable mountain bike-style wheels.

According to Isabelle’s dad Steve, it has made all the different to his little girl.

“In the past you were told ‘this is what you are getting’. Now you get the standard chair but you get the chance to adapt it to suit Isabelle’s needs.

“We like to go out to places as a family such as Bolton Abbey, so a 
set of off-road tyres has made all 
the difference.”

Isabelle got to choose for herself, which made her feel more independent because she had a say in the process, adds her dad.

“It’s made her feel like it is actually her chair,” says Steve.

“They are like mountain bike wheels and are quite knobbly so they don’t dig into the grass,” says Isabelle, who features in a short YouTube film promoting the service.

Paula Jackson, Highly Specialist Wheelchair Therapist at LTHT, said: “Under the old scheme, people would get a wheelchair that met their clinical needs but their options for customising it were limited.

“Now, people with personal wheelchair budgets are an equal and active partner in their own health care and able to make their own informed choices to enable them to get a wheelchair that they want as well as need.”

To see Isabelle’s video visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahgeHqcn7V0&t=1s