The Chair4Life (C4L) initiative was developed by the NHS National Innovation Centre (NIC) in response to clear statements of clinical need from users, carers and health experts. The priority need was identified in the Department of Health’s ‘Innovation Health & Wealth’ report to create a specification for a wheelchair, that would, be easily adaptable for a growing child, improve quality and provision of equipment, promote independence and improve a child’s quality of life.
With close team work and engagement with users and key stakeholders, Renfrew’s inclusive design approach identified how best to address the usability problems to ensure that the Chair 4 life design prioritised needs of the users and carers first, but also radically redefined possibilities for prescription, manufacture and supply.
The Wheelchair has been developed with NHS England as part of its Innovation, Health and Welfare Programme.
The resultant Chair 4 Life presents the concept of a compact universal, modular powered wheelchair system allowing wide specification to cater for the physical and social demands of a user’s life, capable of addressing the needs of at least 80% of paediatric users aged 4 to 18 years for powered wheelchairs.
Emphasis has been placed on producing a user centred design that adapts to an individual’s growing needs, with a seat and components that grow with the child, and in a design that is compact and lightweight.
With the move towards new procurement processes, managed healthcare, tighter funding, and the emerging ‘Any Qualified Providers ‘arrangement, the universal modular platform is designed to increase flexibility for provision to all users and suppliers.
The other design features include vertical lift as standard – a feature demanded by young users, to allow eye level interaction with peers, which will facilitate social and educational development and improve feelings of dignity and independence.
An adjustable wheelbase ensures adaptability for indoor and outdoor conditions as well as the option for compactness giving greater maneuverability in small spaces.
The Chair 4 Life has been developed into a working prototype which is being addressed as a production proposition.
It was extremely competitive, with over 400 entries to the awards from 30 countries, but the judges felt that the Chair 4 Life innovation was amongst the bestThe IET Innovation Awards TeamLord Commander