Where to get information
It's a good idea to get as much information as you can before getting a walking frame.
Ask an expert
Ask your local NHS or social services about what's available. You can also see an occupational therapist privately - contact the College of Occupational Therapists to find one. Speak to a physiotherapist for advice on what kind of walking frame is best for you, and how to adjust and use it. Your GP will be able to find you a community physiotherapist if you haven't already got one. Alternatively, the CSP or Physio First will help you find a private physiotherapist.
Read about them
You can get catalogues from mail-order companies or have a look on the internet to see what suppliers of wheeled walking frames have available. You can also get information from the DLF.
See for yourself
Sources of information and advice
Wherever you live, there'll be information agencies that know about what's available locally. Many areas have a local disability organisation or action group. Ask at your library or council information services. It's also worth looking under 'disability' in your local classified telephone book.
The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) is the trade association for the healthcare industry. It has a national membership of manufacturers and suppliers of mobility aids and other products. The BHTA code of practice sets out standards that its members must meet.
Shops and suppliers will display their BHTA membership if they have one.
DIAL UK is a network of some 120 local Disability Information and Advice Line services (DIALs). They are run by disabled people for disabled people. They give information and advice on anything to do with living with a disability. They can help you find a local mobility shop.
To find your nearest DIAL contact:
The DLF provides comprehensive information about equipment and where to get it. Its website includes clearly written guides about a range of daily-living equipment. It produces a range of factsheets and guides.
AskSARA is a very helpful online system that will tell you what kind of equipment may help you. You choose a topic - such as bathroom, gardening, hobbies or hearing - and answer a series of very simple questions. AskSARA then will give you a rundown of things that might help, things to think about and advice on what to do next.
The DLF helpline will give you information by phone, and the staff can send you printed guides and information.
There are over 40 Disabled Living Centres (called independent living centres in some places) up and down the country. Most centres have displays of equipment that you can see and try out - they stock and display a variety of products to meet most needs. They can advise you about the range of equipment and solutions available to meet your needs and where it's available. They'll often advise you about the best way of getting equipment, too, whether this be by buying privately or through the social or health services.
Most DLCs operate as charities and offer impartial advice. If they do sell equipment, their main consideration is to provide you with the information for specific solutions and give you a choice. If possible, ring to make an appointment before you visit a DLC so they can make sure there's someone free to talk to you.
Independent charity supporting shopmobility schemes throughout the UK. To find your nearest scheme, contact:
Assessment and fitting
Before getting a walking frame, you should make sure it's right for you. An assessment carried out by a trained professional will look at your needs and help determine the best way to meet them. Some shops, mail-order companies and manufacturers will sell walking frames without doing an assessment. If you're buying a walking frame from any of these sources, it's a good idea to have a professional assessment first.
You may be able to get an assessment from your local social services - ask your occupational therapist (if you have one), or contact your council. Some Disabled Living Centres offer free assessments. They will all give you helpful advice. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP), Physio First or the College of Occupational Therapists will be able to find you a therapist to carry out a private assessment.
You should also make sure your walking frame has been properly adjusted to fit. If this wasn't done in the shop (or if you bought the frame by mail order), whoever did your assessment should be able to help.
You can get an independent assessment from an occupational therapist or physiotherapist. These organisations will help you find one locally. You will have to pay.
Disabled Living Centres
Google 'Disabled Living Centres' to find your local DLC, and to see if they can give you an assessment.
Paying for it
You may be able to get a walking frame from your local NHS or social services. How this works varies from area to area and will depend on your personal circumstances. The first step is to talk to your doctor, therapist or social services and ask them for an assessment.
Walking frames cost between about £50 and over £250. If you're buying it yourself, you should make sure you get good advice before you do.
You don't have to pay VAT on products designed and sold for disabled people. Specialist shops will automatically sell you equipment without charging you VAT, but you may have to ask in high-street shops.
The organisations listed here will be able to help you find charitable and other sources of money to buy mobility equipment.
If you're over 60, Charity Search is a free service to help you find a grant-giving charity.
Motability provides a scheme to pay for a scooter or wheelchair or a car. Contact them if you receive the higher-rate mobility component of the Disability Living Allowance or War Pensioner's Mobility Supplement.
Last updated: February 2010