A MAJOR forum in the University of Limerick has examined the issues facing wheelchair users in accessing services.
The conference, which explored the rights of over 40,000 wheelchair users in Ireland, highlighted issues around waiting times for assessment and provision for those in need of assistance.
The inaugural European Wheelchair and Seating Provision Forum took place last Thursday, ahead of the European Power Chair Football Nationals Cup which took place in the University over the weekend, featuring competitors from six countries.
Forum organiser and occupational therapy lecturer in UL, Dr Rosie Gowran, explained that wheelchair users in Ireland “are being failed by a worrying lack of uniformity when accessing services, receiving their wheelchair, repair and maintenance”.
“Posture, movement and mobility are essential for every human being to function and gain access to the world,” she explained.
Dr Gowran said that the forum hoped to “open the debate on key issues and actions for the development of appropriate wheelchair and seating provision infrastructures to meet this primary need now and in the future”.
People from Ireland and abroad attended the forum in UL, which focussed specifically on giving a voice to wheelchair service users, providers and policy makers.
UL recently launched a new Postgraduate Certificate in Posture, Seating and Wheelchair Mobility. Dr Gowran said that a recent study, undertaken in UL, said that delays in assessment and provision for wheelchair suers was leading to “Irish children, adults and older people sitting in wheelchairs that are unsuitable for them”.
“For a child, being in a wheelchair that is too small could have major health consequences on their development and self–esteem, not only impacting their limbs but also leaving them at risk of chest infections, pressures ulcers,” she added.