Thanks to the innovative skills of two of our specialist physiotherapists, 846 walking aids have been returned to NHS Forth Valley in the past 7 months representing a saving of more than £6,500 against the cost of buying replacements. The walking aid recycling scheme, which was set up initially in Falkirk, has been so successful it has been rolled out to the Stirling area and there are also plans to extend it to Clackmannanshire.
Nicola Blair and Aileen Kelly, identified there was no clear pathway for patients to return walking aids once they no longer required them. This was frustrating for patients, their families and for local NHS staff, with walking aids frequently discarded in clinical areas causing clutter, congestion and, in some cases, a health and safety risk. Many others ended up in landfill sites adding to the burden of waste. Through working in partnership with Joint Loan Equipment Service (JLES) Falkirk Council and its network of recycling centres in the Falkirk area, a number of new drop-off points were created where patients could return walking aids they no longer required for recycling. Items returned have included zimmer frames, pulpit walkers, gutter frames, elbow crutches and walking sticks.
JLES then organise the collection, safety inspection, decontamination, refurbishment and return of suitable walking aids via NHS Forth Valley’s Central Services Department so that they can be safely reused for other patients.
Both Nicola and Aileen say they’re extremely grateful to Falkirk Council and their staff on the ground at the recycling centres for their efforts, which have avoided an environmental impact of 5260 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
The recycling centres supporting the walking aid recycling project in Stirling are Lower Polmaise, Callander, Balfron or via JLES. In Falkirk they remain at Kinneil Kerse, Roughmute and JLES. Details of recycling centres in the Clackmannanshire area are currently being explored.
Further information is available on the NHS Forth Valley website – nhsforthvalley.com/returningwalkingaids