In 1998, 11.8% of the Quebec population over 15 years showed mobility problems and 2.3% of that group revealed that their needs were not met. The same year, the Régie de l'assurance-maladie du Québec distributed more than 4,500 wheelchairs and repaired some 30,000 others, at a cost of over $20 million. The recycling of wheelchairs is seen as a solution for improving this situation. This paper presents an evaluation of a wheelchair recycling program.
Three groups of participants involved in the recycling of wheelchairs contributed to the gathering of information. These were: personnel (n = 9), occupational therapists in the community (n = 5) and users of refurbished wheelchairs (n = 20).
A participative and qualitative research approach was conducted with the 1st group. The results outline the inefficacy of the process on the structural level (e.g. not enough resources to collect unused wheelchairs), operational level (e.g. absence of norms to recycle), strategic level (e.g. absence of policy to encourage people to give back their unused wheelchair) and systemic level (e.g. the state is not imputable). A quantitative approach with the 2nd and 3rd groups revealed high satisfaction with regard to the efficacy, appearance, safety, durability and comfort as well as the delivery and follow-up services rendered.
The evaluation procedure herein proposed can be customized to fit other contexts and provides policy-makers with quick access to field data to help them choose the appropriate course of action.