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How to choose mobility aids

Wheelchair hire

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Wheelchair hire

We explain Shopmobility and Red Cross wheelchair hire, and list the main questions to ask when you rent a wheelchair.


Wheelchair hire or rental can be the perfect solution if you need to use one only 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. See our mobility scooter reviews to find out more.


Shopmobility is a charity set up to assist people with mobility difficulties – whether permanent or temporary – with shopping or leisure activities in city and shopping centres. It does this through the hire of manual and powered wheelchairs and electric scooters.

You can find out about local schemes on the Shopmobility website. As these schemes are only affiliated to the main federation, they vary in their requirements and fees.

To register on your first visit to a Shopmobility centre, you will 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.

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

The Disabled Living Foundation keeps a list of wheelchair-hire suppliers, with a standard manual wheelchair costing around £10 to £20 a week.

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.

Wheelchair hire: what to ask

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?