Essex has a growing elderly population, and with it, an increasingly high number of people with mobility issues. Of the 1.72 million people who live in Essex, around 24% are older people (defined as of pensionable age) and this is expected to rise to 28%, or almost half a million people, by 2034. While many older people are fit and active for many years, some are not so fortunate and start to find it hard to walk long distances, or even struggle to get around the house. Fortunately, there is a growing mobility industry in Essex to help serve people in need. Let’s look at some of the help on offer.
Shopmobility is a local government scheme that provides scooters or wheelchairs for adults who have A mobility problem, either permanently or temporarily. Shopmobility is in Chelmsford, Brentwood, Lakeside, Colchester and Southend. Charges may apply, although some towns may offer the scheme for free to registered users. If your only mobility need is when shopping in town, then this is the most affordable option.
Motability is a scheme that allows disabled people to exchange their mobility allowance, which is currently £59.75 per week, to lease a car, wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV), scooter or powerchair (powered wheelchair). Motability arrange the insurance and breakdown assistance, as well as help with servicing and maintenance. The annual cost works out at around £3,107 per year, so it is certainly a great deal for some. However, it may not be the best use of your money if you are using it to hire a powerchair or mobility scooter – these can last for several years (if well looked after they can last for 7-10 years) and the most expensive are only around £5000, with many models in the £1500-3000 range. So Motability is not the cheapest option in the long-term, especially for scooters and powerchairs. It is governed by the Motability charity.
Buying Mobility Scooters and Powerchairs in Essex
The flat nature of much of Essex is a great advantage for users of powered mobility scooters and wheelchairs – with fewer hills to climb, batteries last longer and you can go further. Essex has several mobility shops scattered around, and Brentwood is home to the national chain of CareCo Mobility Shops. CareCo offers one the largest ranges of mobility aids and vehicles, and manufacture their own scooters and chairs. The CareCo Zoom is one of the most popular pavement scooters, and the CareCo Aviator is a very popular road legal scooter. For powerchair users, the Foldalite is the best long range wheelchair, and the CareCo Easi Go is their best compact lightweight electric wheelchair.
There is a growing secondhand market in Essex, with some shops selling used mobility scooters and wheelchairs. You can also buy secondhand online, sites such as Gumtree, Preloved, Freeads and eBay. A secondhand scooter or powerchair can be a great way to buy your first mobility vehicle, but just be careful – if the battery was not well looked after it may not hold a full charge. Replacement batteries are not cheap, so something it pays to guy a product that is under warranty than a cheaper used item.
What To Do, Where To Go?
Once you have your new mobility scooter or chair, where do you go? Apart from visiting friends, popping to the shops and getting to the doctors on your own, there are many leisure and social activities you can join in Essex, here’s a selected list:
- Active Essex – accessible sports activities in Essex
- AgeUK Essex – activities and events, contact and social
- Connect Well Essex – leisure and social activities, befriending, self help and advice and support services
- Essex Activities – events, activities and days out
- Essex Connects – voluntary and community groups and services
- Essex Country Parks – events, activities, and days out
- Essex Libraries – local events, activities, group meetings
- Live Well Essex – leisure and social activities, groups, events
- Visit Essex – events, activities, days out
- Volunteer Essex – volunteering opportunities in Essex
So, embrace the technological revolution that is the rise of electric vehicles, with your own electric mobility scooter!