Providing support for people with mobility issues
Many people living with long-term conditions experience a gradual decline in their ability to undertake everyday activities and engage in work and social activities. Sometimes this decline goes unnoticed until a crisis occurs but for many people not being able to do what they used to just becomes part of life.
In the Taking about Health study (New Zealand research), the number of people who indicated that mobility was a self-care challenge surprised the researchers. In the final year of this study participants were asked to indicate which of a list of potential challenges they found to be challenging in caring for themselves and then to specify which was the main challenge or challenges. Mobility was indicated as one of the self-care challenges for 44.5% of the participants (46% of non-Māori and 36% of Māori), and 18.1% defined it as their main challenge (19% of non-Māori and 11% of Māori Taylor et al. 2020).
Things you can do to help
Ask your patients if their condition affects their mobility and ability to do things they used to be able to do.
Find out about the disability allowance. Work and Income define disability as an impairment – physical, intellectual or sensory – that lasts for more than 6 months and limits your ability to carry out day-to-day activities.
The disability allowance is a weekly payment for people who have regular, ongoing costs because of a disability, such as visits to the doctor or hospital, medicines, extra clothing or travel. People don't have to be on a benefit to qualify for a disability allowance. The amount paid depends on the extra costs and income. Find out more here.
Know where your local mobility shop is. These organisations are particularly useful and can sell or loan a range of useful tools and equipment as well as providing a range of assessment and adaptation services.
Many people don't know about the range of tools and adaptations that are available. Some of these things can make a difference to people’s ability to do things like gardening, cooking and getting on with everyday life.
The following is not a comprehensive list of all mobility outlets in New Zealand. It is intended as example only.
Enable New Zealand is based in Palmerston North. It is a division of Mid Central District Health Board and also provides disability services by contract to the Ministry of Health, ACC and other DHBs.
Independent Living provides a range of equipment and services and has stores across the Auckland Region.
Mobility Solutions has shops in Ashburton, Timaru and Dunedin.
Southern Mobility is based in Invercargill.
Nurse Maude Health and Mobility Shop is in Christchurch.
Access Mobility is in Richmond and Blenheim.
Taylor M, Budge C. Talking about health: study overview and self-care challenges experienced by people with long-term conditions. Kai Tiaki. 2020; 26(2):20-23.