Coldplay singer Chris Martin with Inspirational Young Person award winner Conor McKenna at the Kidz Unlimited Awards ceremony earlier this month
In the UK we have a crisis of young people whose physical mobility needs, and subsequently their ability to develop the skills needed for adulthood, are far from being fully met. Thousands of families battle through the health and social care systems, unable to access appropriate wheelchairs to give their children the chance of a childhood and the independence to have an ambitious future. At Whizz-Kidz we estimate there are over 70,000 disabled children and young people in the UK who have the wrong wheelchair for them – if they have one at all. We are singularly focussed on reaching as many of these young people as possible.
Over the course of almost a quarter of a century, Whizz-Kidz has been the largest provider of mobility equipment outside of the NHS – and our innovation in healthcare has been widely recognised. In the autumn of last year, after a rallying cry for innovative ideas, the NHS pledged to develop more pioneering approaches, including harnessing technology to improve health outcomes and create better experiences for patients.
As part of this commitment, the Department of Health has recently funded the development of a new smartphone app for Whizz-Kidz. Free to download, the app allows young disabled people and their families to access a number of the charity’s services – including beginning the application process for vital mobility equipment which will transform their lives, offering them greater choice, and providing more opportunities for them to fulfil their potential. Like all of Whizz-Kidz’s innovations, our app has customers at its heart and was designed to give young disabled people the tools to make their own decisions, and afford them another convenient channel by which to achieve independent mobility – in this case at the touch of a screen.
Some of its key features include videos to show parents how to measure their children prior to assessment in order to speed up the process; and a ‘Rate and Review’ service similar to commercial services like Trip Advisor or Patients Like Me – whereby families can give feedback on the products they receive from Whizz-Kidz. We use this intelligence as leverage to drive the manufacturers to make improvements and increase user satisfaction.
Crucially, using technology in this way is cost effective. It is possible to save financial costs to the NHS, and keep standards of healthcare high. For instance, if a young person downloads the app, which leads them to apply for an appropriate wheelchair preventing them developing pressure sores, it could potentially save hospitalisation and even spinal surgery. This is the tip of the iceberg in potential savings. The right equipment might mean a child can reach their school desk comfortably and require less school adaptions. Their parents might then be more likely to work, impacting less on the state.
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Thanks to Chris for submitting this