It is often said that no two feet are the same and for many people with disabilities an everyday challenge is finding comfortable footwear that meets their very specific needs. For some disabled people, making a trip to the shoe shop can be trying and unsettling—particularly if a shop assistant is not comfortable relating to a person with a disability. The shopping experience can quickly become unhelpful, where the customer leaves quickly with inappropriate footwear.
Where sales staff are confident and comfortable with people with disabilities and the products on offer are appropriate to their needs, shopping for shoes becomes pleasant and relaxed. Sales staff need to be able to offer the time, knowledge, expertise and attention required to ensure the shoes are the correct fit for the client. For many people with an intellectual disability, common feet problems (such as bunions and corns) are often exacerbated and compounded by issues of foot length, width, balance or mobility and they may require orthotics or other correctional products. Finding and fitting the correct shoe requires considerable attention to the needs of each individual. Regular shoes from High Street shoe shops very often just won’t work.
For many, their footwear needs include ‘made-to-measure’ footwear, and the staff providing the service must be competent in assessing this need. Where feet are distorted, swollen or are of varying sizes, a complete measurement and fitting assessment should be provided. Shoes should then be made to the person’s exact needs.
Regular attendance at a podiatry service, coupled with access to specialist footwear, can help to reduce pain, falls and accidents. Well-fitting shoes enable people with an intellectual disability to have a better quality of life, greater mobility and minimise unnecessary discomfort or pain.