QEF’s HUBS Mobility Service supports people with physical or hidden disabilities who do not drive to access public transport and stay connected with their friends and community, helping to reduce isolation.
In October 2020 the team were able to help Alex (17) after a referral from Merton Social Prescribing Scheme. Alex was diagnosed with M.E towards the end of 2019, but the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in cancelled medical appointments and consultations, leaving her without a wheelchair for mobility. She had effectively been shielding since March, and often her fatigue has been so bad that it resulted in her mum having to carry her around the house, which has been extremely challenging for them both.
It has proved to be very difficult for Alex and her mum to get up to speed with all the information that comes with a newly diagnosed condition, as well as juggling schoolwork and childcare. Prior to her diagnosis there had been no need for the family to access health and social care services and so trying to find out where to get practical support and advice felt like a bit of a minefield.
During a phone consultation and pre-assessment with QEF’s Transport Information Hub, QEF were able to point them in the right direction to access an NHS wheelchair assessment, as well as provide tailored information on hiring a wheelchair and eligibility for NHS transport recovery costs. They also gave Alex information on a local support group specifically for young people living with M.E and local disability advocacy groups.
QEF are lucky to occasionally have mobility equipment donated to support people who rely on their mobility services. it so happened that QEF had received a lightweight wheelchair that they were unable to use within their services. After a socially distanced, suitability assessment – they were able to pass this wheelchair on to Alex and her mum, which has changed their lives. Alex is now able to get out to the local park and enjoy being outside with her family, whilst they are waiting for their NHS assessment.
Alex’s mum Elena says:
“We are so grateful for all the information and support QEF has provided. It’s great to see Alex smiling again and enjoying being able to get outside. You were the first person to give me hope about what help I can get, the first person that listened and you lifted some of the weight off my shoulders.
I have seen such a difference in Alex even in just a week. We have been out to the park in the wheelchair where Alex saw 5 people – she said it was the first time in a year she was able to talk to people as she has been housebound. She can self-propel a bit indoors and the wheelchair enables her to be more comfortable sitting upright. She has also been able to sit downstairs with us and eat and be part of the family.
There is so much information I wouldn’t have known about if it wasn’t for QEF’s HUBS Mobility Service. Amanda even found out who to contact in the local authority to apply for a disabled parking bay by the house. You have given Alex hope for the future and also to think that further down the line she could look at the possibility of learning to drive is so positive. Thank you so much”
Amanda Beck, QEF’s HUB lead explains: “When the family accessed the service the impact of lockdown was really apparent, but also how difficult it is to access information on what practical support is available to help with people’s mobility, especially when the condition is newly diagnosed. This combination must have been stressful for Alex and her family. I’m so pleased that QEF were in the position to help them at a time of real need. “
QEF’s HUBS Mobility Service is part of a pilot project funded by the Department for Transport that aims to ensure people who can’t or no longer drive are able to keep connected and independent, despite health conditions and challenges. QEF’s service is one of several HUBS across the UK co-ordinated by Driving Mobility.