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Wheelchair hire

How to hire wheelchairs using schemes such as Motability, Shopmobility, the Red Cross and the Disabled Living Foundation.
3 min read
In this article
Why hire a wheelchair? The Motability scheme How Shopmobility could help 
Red Cross wheelchair hire Other wheelchair hire options What to ask when hiring a wheelchair 

Why hire a wheelchair?

Wheelchair hire or rental can be the perfect solution if you only need to use a wheelchair occasionally, perhaps for day trips or shopping sprees, or for short-term periods following an operation or injury.

You may be able to apply for a wheelchair for short-term use from your local NHS wheelchair service, but they don’t generally hire out wheelchairs for occasional days out.

If you’re able to travel quite independently, operate scooter controls and get on and off, a mobility scooter may suit you better. Read our guide to choosing the right mobility scooter.

The Motability scheme

The not-for-profit Motability Scheme allows people to hire a powered wheelchair, mobility scooter or car for three years. To qualify you must receive a government-funded disability allowance – either:

You will receive your wheelchair or mobility scooter in exchange for all or part of your allowance. 

Anyone getting the enhanced-rate mobility component of the PIP can take part in the scheme, providing they have at least 12 months of the award remaining. It’s also open to people receiving the War Pensioners’ Mobility Supplement, which you can read more about on the gov.uk website.

Motability holds several events throughout the year in different parts of the country, and a ‘Big Event’ every May. Find out more about the scheme on the Motability website.

How Shopmobility could help 

Shopmobility is a charity set up to assist people with mobility difficulties – whether through disability, illness or injury – to continue to get around town and city centres. Anyone who has problems with mobility can access shops and other services through the Shopmobility scheme. Equipment that is available can include manual and electric wheelchairs, mobility scooters and rollators.

To register on your first visit to a Shopmobility centre, you’ll need to have identification showing your name and address. Staff should be on hand to help you decide which mobility scooter or wheelchair to go for, and to give training on how to use them.

Most of the Shopmobility services run restricted hours because they’re run by volunteers or don’t have sufficient funding. It’s therefore safest to book in advance by using the relevant scheme’s booking line. Different local schemes are run independently and will vary in their requirements and fees. 

To search for a local scheme, go to the National Federation of Shopmobility website.

Red Cross wheelchair hire

The Red Cross provides short-term loans of mobility aids such as wheelchairs at almost 1,000 UK outlets, and is known as being the main wheelchair-hire scheme.

As the service is run by volunteers, the Red Cross asks for a donation, and may also require a refundable deposit. Get in touch as early as you can, as your local branch may have a waiting list.

Other wheelchair hire options

Many companies, from Center Parcs and zoos to gardens and National Trust properties, have wheelchairs available to hire, too. They’re usually light, manual wheelchairs that are adequate for a day out where there’s a lot of walking. You’ll need to phone ahead to reserve a wheelchair, as there’s often limited availability.

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What to ask when hiring a wheelchair 

If you’re looking into wheelchair hire, it’s advisable to ask the organisation you’re borrowing from the following questions:

  • Will you arrange delivery and collection of the wheelchair, and if so does this cost extra?
  • Who is responsible for routine maintenance and dealing with any larger problems such as punctures?
  • Do I have to take out insurance, or have you got it covered?
  • Do I need to put down a deposit?
  • Can you give me any advice on using the wheelchair?
Which? Home & garden
If you’re looking for a mobility scooter, hearing aid, stair lift or a simple mobile phone, check out our buying guides before making a purchase.

Further reading

Choosing a wheelchair

Read about the differences between manual and electric wheelchairs and how to customise yours for greater comfort.

Last updated: 29 Aug 2019