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The wheelchair which grows with the child

ID3: Develop the Opportunity

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Executive Summary

The Chiar4Life innovation development programme centres on developing a wheelchair which grows with the child.

Quick Detail

Innovation Owner:
Peter Taylor
Development stage:
ID3: Develop the Opportunity

Project Detail

The Unmet Need

In 2009/10 the NIC responded to clear statements of clinical need from parents, carers, users and health professionals for a wheelchair that promoted user independence and was easily adaptable for a growing child, and commissioned the development of a specification for a Paediatric wheelchair design solution. The programme was a collaboration between the NIC, Frasier Nash Design Consultancy, Whizz-Kidz, Devices 4 Dignity and Great Ormond Street Hospital. This collaborative work resulted in the development of a detailed design specification for a modular wheelchair that would accommodate children from the age of 3 to 18 years and beyond.  The landscape for wheelchair provision is changing the England with a major review of NHS services currently taking place. In 2011 the Department of Health launched Child in a Chair in a Day, one of the high impact innovation areas identified in Innovation Health and Wealth, Accelerating Adoption and Diffusion in the NHS. Child in a chair in a day aims to insure organisations have in place a referral and assessment process which minimises the time taken to provide a wheelchair. In other words right assessment, right equipment, right first time. For more information please see http://childinachair.innovation.nhs.uk.

In parallel to this the Department of Health is also reviewing how it procures and provides wheelchairs.  The Department of Health has recently introduced plans which allow Any Qualified Provider (AQP) to bid for local wheelchair services. These new providers will be a mix of private industry and 3rd sector organisations with new contracts awarded early in 2013. With the introduction of alternative business models for the supply of wheelchairs the NIC believes that the scope for more innovative solutions will open up.

Proposed Solution

In August 2012 the NIC launched a competition to develop a wheelchair based on the phase 1 research. The competition aimed to build on the research to develop a chair which could meet the needs of a wider user base.  Renfrew Design won the tender to develop the chair and have worked closely with users and carers to refine the specification. The end result is a modular wheelchair with a range of features which allow for unprecedented levels of user customisation. A fully working prototype has been developed and will be further evaluated by users and carers. We are unable to show images of the new design until its official unveiling at the NHS Expo in March 2013.

Intended Benefits

The benefits listed below were all features expressed by the user group consultation.


  1. A wheelchair system which grows with the child
  2. Quick to reconfigure using unique seat mounting system (making the chair easier to maintain and faster to alter / commission)
  3. Peer height seating (A key feature demanded by younger users)
  4. Configurable to different environments with indoor and outdoor modes (The designers considered all of the environments the chair would be used in)
  5. Customisable with a range of options to suit the physical and emotional needs of the user

Key Facts


  • Patient experience

Healthcare Areas

  • Social Care

Health Problems

  • Musculoskeletal
  • Genetic disorders


  • Domestic