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Mobility Problems Q&A
Benjamin Long Director of Collins Care offers useful advice to people who have mobility problems covering VAT relief, to how to choose the right walking stick for you.

My father has finally had to give up his driving licence and is fiercely independent. He has accepted that he now needs a mobility scooter to get about but having looked at a few is troubled that there seems to be very little space to put anything. Can you get strong boxes or something that is lockable and secure that can be attached onto the back? Mr Seymore

"As the popularity of mobility scooters continues to grow so does the demand put on them. No longer are they used to just pop to the shops . Now people spend all day out and about on them, therefore the demand for a variety of different attachments has increased. The most popular is the walking stick holder but they have now bought out a rear lockable box with stylish reflective imitation lights, which will fit on virtually all scooters. The stick holder can still be used alongside it. You can also get a choice of scooter bags and waterproof capes and covers. However I would recommend the waterproof tiller cover as this protects the most vulnerable part of any scooter (the tiller contains the electrics). Another new attachment is the multipurpose carrier which can carry a wheelchair or even a set of golf clubs! You should be able to get all of these from your local BHTA registered mobility dealer.” Said Benjamin Long

My Mum is now in her 80’s and is not as steady as she used to be. I have started making enquires for grab rails and walking sticks and other aids and see there are two prices on them. One with VAT and one without. I have been told that she will not have to pay VAT if she is registered disabled, which she isn’t. What are the rules on this and who decides what products are and aren’t eligible for a reduction in VAT? Mrs Tabith

“This is a common question that we come across on a daily basis and is one that has been mentioned before in this column. You are entitled to be zero rated for VAT purposes if you are registered disabled or chronically sick and are purchasing the goods for personal or domestic use relevant to your illness or disability. If you suffer from arthritis or diabetes you would be entitled for vat relief. If you would like more information on this you can contact your County Council.

With regards to what products are zero rated, the government decide and they tend to be specific to certain long term needs. Again for more information look at the above link.” Said Benjamin

I am getting to a stage in my life when I need a walking stick and see that you can buy them from all sorts of outlets. Do you need to be measured for these and is there a particular type you recommend as I see they all have different types of handles. Mr Simmons

Walking sticks should be measured to you individually by someone who knows how to do it. A lot of people tend to have them slightly too long which means that their elbow is bent too much. The general rule is that the length of the stick should come to the top of your thumb knuckle. Too short and you end up stooping and too long and you end not having the correct support. The different handles available are very much a personal choice, but one handle to note is the arthritic support. This handle is moulded to the inside of the hand and you get right and left handed grips. The idea is that it distributes the weight evenly over the hand. If you use a standard stick the handle sits in the ball of your hand and can cause stress injuries to your shoulder and elbow over time. The moulded hand support reduces the risk of this and is much more comfortable.

"Virtually all the metal sticks are fully adjustable and some can folded to save space when not being used. I would recommend that you visit your local mobility store who should have qualified people there to fit sticks and make any adjustments. Having the wrong sized walking stick can cause more problems in the long term.” Said Benjamin

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