Walking aids, wheelchairs and mobility scooters

If you or someone you know has difficulty walking or getting around (mobility), a wheelchair, scooter or walking aid might help.

Walking sticks

You can use a walking stick to give you extra support and help you balance. It can give you confidence and make walking less painful.

How to get a walking stick

You can borrow some types of walking sticks from the NHS. Speak to your GP, physiotherapist or hospital staff. You might have to pay a small deposit.

You can buy walking sticks online or from mobility shops. Search online for mobility shops in your area. Prices range from £5 to £30.

Choosing a walking stick

There are different types of walking sticks.

You should think about:

  • making sure the stick is the correct height for you (ask for advice when you get your walking stick)
  • whether you need one that stands up by itself (some have 3 or 4 feet)
  • whether you need the stick to be right-handed or left-handed
  • whether you need a seat so you can rest
  • whether you need a stick to go up steps (you should speak to a physiotherapist for advice)

Contact your GP surgery about how to get an appointment with a physiotherapist.

Which? has advice on choosing the right walking stick for you.

Walking frames (Zimmer frames or rollators)

A walking frame gives you more support than walking sticks. You can use them to get around your home or to get out and about.

How to get a walking frame

You can borrow walking frames from the NHS. Speak to your GP, physiotherapist or hospital staff. You might have to pay a deposit.

You can buy walking frames online, or search online for mobility shops in your area. Prices range from £20 to £200.

Choosing a walking frame

There are different types of walking frames.

You should think about:

  • making sure it's the correct height for you (ask hospital staff or your mobility shop for advice)
  • whether you want to only use it indoors (frames without wheels are best)
  • whether you're strong enough to lift a frame without wheels
  • whether you want to get out and about (frames with wheels are better for outdoors)
  • whether you need a seat, basket or tray attached
  • whether you need to fold it to get it into a car

Which? has advice on choosing the right walking frame for you.

Wheelchairs

You can use a wheelchair if you struggle to walk or you're disabled. You can go into and around many shops and buildings in a wheelchair.

How to get a wheelchair

Getting an NHS wheelchair

Ask your GP, physiotherapist or hospital staff to refer you to your local wheelchair service for an assessment. You'll need to do this before you can get an NHS wheelchair.

The local wheelchair service will decide if you need a wheelchair and, if so, what type.

You might be able to get a voucher. This allows you to pay towards the cost of a different type of wheelchair.

Borrowing wheelchairs

You can sometimes borrow NHS wheelchairs for a short while (for example, after an operation).

Local Red Cross branches often lend wheelchairs.

Some shopping centres have a Shopmobility scheme, where you can borrow a wheelchair while you're shopping. This is usually free.

Buying a wheelchair

Search online for local mobility shops. Wheelchairs range in price from £150 to more than £1,000.

Help with costs

The Motability Scheme can help if you want to hire or buy an electric wheelchair. It allows some people to use their benefits to pay for a wheelchair.

Choosing a wheelchair

You can get manual or electric wheelchairs.

When you're looking at wheelchairs, think about:

  • whether you're going to be pushing yourself or will be pushed by someone else
  • how often you need to use it
  • whether you need to use it indoors or outdoors, or both
  • whether it needs to go into a care home
  • how comfortable it is
  • how much it costs to maintain and repair

Ask to try different types of wheelchair before you make your decision.

Which? has advice on choosing a wheelchair.

Mobility scooters

Mobility scooters can be useful if you struggle to walk or are disabled, need to travel long distances, and are able to easily get on and off a mobility scooter.

How to get a scooter

Mobility scooters aren't generally available on the NHS.

Buying a mobility scooter

Search online for local mobility shops. Mobility scooters range in price from £400 to more than £5,000.

Get help with costs

You might be able to get a grant or help from a charity.

Better Mobility has a list of charities that can help pay towards a scooter.

The Motability Scheme can help if you want to hire or buy a mobility scooter. It allows some people to use their benefits to pay for one.

Choosing a scooter

You should think about:

  • how often you need to use a scooter
  • what you need it for (roads or pavements)
  • whether it needs to go in a car
  • where you'll store your scooter
  • how much it costs to maintain and repair
  • whether you'll be able to steer it (some have special levers to steer them if you have arthritis in your hands)

Ask to try different types before you make your decision.

Which? has advice on choosing a mobility scooter.

The Research Institute for Disabled Consumers has advice on choosing a mobility scooter.

Page last reviewed: 08/08/2018
Next review due: 08/08/2021