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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 243 • December 2018



Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Issue 243 December 2018

Industry innovation inbound Could a small device make a big impact in the mobility industry?

Providing news and views in the trade since 1999



also inside...


Warrington Disability




Partner Programmes 3 options designed for your business

The Stiltz 10-point Referral Partner Guarantee Our entry-level partner programme option will deliver: 1. Minimum £1000 commission – guaranteed! 2. An opportunity to refer a unique and exciting product range 3. Same day customer call back to make appointment to visit 4. Maximum visit lead time is 48 hours from receiving your lead* 5. Market leading expertise in Homelifts 6. Specialist sales consultants guarantee unrivalled conversion 7. We will keep you in the loop every step of the way 8. Referrals treated with same respect as you treat your customers 9. Prompt and efficient commission payments 10. Sell just 5 Stiltz Homelifts, and receive a Generous Loyalty Bonus *Unless delay is requested by customer

Other partnership levels ... Affiliate Partners promote and market Stiltz products, undertake customer home visits and complete the sale. Stiltz will manage technical surveys and installation of the Homelift. You will receive flexible head office marketing support.

Top tier Premier Partners promote and market Stiltz Homelifts to new and existing customers and also carry out installations. Comprehensive marcoms support will be provided as well as full technical and product training.

To discuss how the programme can work for you, email or call Gino on 07940 437835


…from the editor Tis’ the season… to innovate? In our latest issue, we cover some exciting and interesting innovations with the ability to change the mobility landscape.


nnovations in the industry can come in various forms, be it an innovative new product or an innovative approach of how to operate. In our December issue, we cover impressive examples of both. In an exclusive interview with DBS Technologies, we find out more about a new product with big potential to help address some of the issues in the mobility scooter and powerchair market. Using modern technology and incorporating connectivity, this new device may shift the industry for retailers, manufacturers and insurers keen to offer end-users a better customer experience. Using new technology to bring about a product change is one way to bring about innovation, another is exploring untried and untested ways of working to deliver something new to the industry. That is exactly what Warrington charity Warrington Disability Partnership and its social enterprise Disability Trading Company have done, resulting in the launch of a new retail outlet embedded within an NHS trust. The special feature highlights just how important and valuable collaboration can be for bringing about change. In the lead up to the festive break, five retailers also share their products of the month, whilst Living Made Easy showcase to retailers various products from the world of home lifts, stairlifts and access. As the end of what has been a busy and eventful year draws to a close, the team and I would like to thank you for your continued readership and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I would also suggest that this issue is best read with a cup of tea and a mince pie!​

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

Editor Calvin Barnett 01933 278086

Advertising Karim Uddin 020 7702 2141​

Calvin Barnett Editor

A very merry Christmas and prosperous New Ye ar from the THIIS team!

Sub-editor Sarah Sarsby


THIIS is produced by BHTA Engage, 2-4 Meadow Close, Ise Valley Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, NN8 4BH • 01933 278 086 • BHTA Engage Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or used in any way without the written permission of the publisher. The views expressed in this publication are not necessarily those of the publisher and although every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate, the publishers take no responsibility for errors or omissions.

You can find THIIS on Twitter at: wwwthiiscouk | 3


38 Industry collaboration leads to retail innovation

Features 6 Know your target customers 12 Product Showcase: Stair lifts, homelifts and access 22 Innovation to lead mobility market revolution?

Regulars 8

44 Life after investment for Platinum

Deal On!

18 The OT’s Perspective 34 Retailers’ Product of the Month

56 Meet Andrew and Andrew

38 Retailer Spotlight 44 More about… 56 Meet… 60 Recruitment 62 Training Diary 4 |

18 The OT’s Perspective

34 Products of the month

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW YOUR TARGET CUSTOMERS? A new white paper examining the over-50s market has been released by Accord Marketing and is proving a particularly valuable read for business leaders, marketeers and sales people in the mobility market. The paper examines consumers’ buying behaviours and dispels some of the commonly held beliefs regarding the market segment. 6 |


ow accounting for a third of the UK’s population, the over-50s market is made up of experienced, discerning customers with a high proportion of the country’s disposable income and is a key target audience for the majority of mobility companies. Created in partnership with Silver Travel Advisor, the ‘Over-50s Consumer Journey’ paper examines the buying behaviours of consumers in this market, including pre-buying research, media habits and postbooking actions to better understand what makes customers buy and what deters them.

between different age groups.” Highlighting some of the key differences that exist between different decade segments, the white paper reveals information surrounding the lead up to purchase, with those aged 80 and above favouring tangible marketing collateral, whilst those aged 50-59 demonstrating more interest in engaging with social media or thirdparty online review sites. Additionally, the white paper suggests that some assumptions made about consumers in the industry, such as over-50s not being digitally savvy, may well not be the case.

“There is a tendency in marketing to treat the over-50s audience as one large collective set instead of recognising the important complexities that exist between different age groups.” SALLY WINFIELD



in partnership with

Providing insights into the 50-59, 6069, 70-79 and 80+ age brackets, the research examines each age group segment individually and compares which channels each audience engages with, what they prioritise and what inspires them to purchase a product. Sally Winfield, Chief Executive Officer at Accord Marketing, commented: “There is a tendency in marketing to treat the over-50s audience as one large collective set instead of recognising the important complexities that exist Essential reading for industry professionals

According to the paper, data suggests that 65 percent of those surveyed spend over two hours per day on the internet and 70 percent research products online before making a purchase. Despite the growth in online engagement, the white paper reinforces that being able to see and touch products in a retail environment still remains central for the over-50s market. 35 percent of those surveyed are inspired to buy a product by seeing it in store, whilst just under one in five respondents visit retailers to explore their options. Importantly, 36 percent choose to make their purchases in store. Essential reading for those aiming to engage with this market, the paper is available for free, with industry professionals advised to contact Accord Marketing’s Senior Account Manager John Corellis on john. for the full document. | 7


trade deals


Looking for a deal? Then this is the place to come. Deal On features the best trade deals you will find this month. Just pick up the phone to take advantage. All offers are valid until December 31st 2018 unless otherwise stated. Free Haze smart charger... ...with your first order of four or more batteries (18Ah and bigger) Please call Easystart on 01536 203030 or email for more information

Installer Partner Programme Stiltz Home Lifts are looking to develop their new, exciting Installer Partner Programme. Signing up for both sales and installation will make the Stiltz business far more profitable that a straightforward sale. Full training will be provided. For more information, call/email Trade Sales Director, Gino Farruggio on 07940 437 835 /

Two Free Home Delivery Smartphone Apps (worth £750)* UNIQUS® iRetailer. Stock & barcode management software specially designed for the VAT complexities of mobility retailers. Affordable subscription. No big initial outlay. Fully integrate your quotation, sales, purchasing and stock process on one platform. Cloud based and paperless, iRetailer CRM will help you gain efficiency, save time and increase sales opportunities. See our advertisement in this issue or visit *Requires Windows Smartphone. Order before end of December 2018 to qualify.

WE DELIVER YOUR PROMISES We are a nationwide delivery company based in the heart of Yorkshire. We specialise in the delivery, installation, demonstration, handover and testing of all types of healthcare products.

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AJ WAY GIVES WAY Having been designing and manufacturing handmade seating since 1936 from High Wycombe, seating specialist AJ Way has entered administration, after becoming an independent company 18-months on from Direct Healthcare Group’s acquisition of Kirton.


n an official statement, Tony Mercer, the former Managing Director of AJ Way, explained that sales had declined following the acquisition of Kirton, leading to the company reducing its selling prices whilst also attempting to cut costs and increase output. Despite this, AJ Way’s manufacturing costs and overheads were not reduced significantly enough, resulting in margin erosion and a lossmaking business, confirmed Tony. After becoming an independent

company, Tony emphasises the board restructured the company and invested additional personal funds of £100,000 into the business in pursuit of profitability however says the company required further investment. Tony, who had joined the Kirton Group in June 2015 as business development director following a successful career as sales and marketing director at Handicare and formerly Minivator, took on the role of AJ Way manging director in May 2017.

Specialist recruiter urges ex AJ Way employees to get in touch Mobility recruitment consultancy Trusted Recruiter is advising former employees of AJ Way to contact the specialist recruiter. Anthony Elkington, Managing Director of Trusted Recruiter, commented: “It is always a real shame to hear when a company in the industry has had to close its doors and it can have a big impact of the loyal members of staff. “With Christmas just around the corner, the impact is even worse. We want to do everything we can to help ensure that ex-AJ Way staff members to find new employment in the industry and would urge them to get in contact with us.” The recruitment specialist works with a number of manufacturers, retailers and distributors in the mobility sector. To find out more, contact Anthony on 0333 0144014


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AJ Way had been manufacturing chairs for over 80 years

Speaking with THIIS in June 2017, Tony highlighted the challenges in the specialist seating market, particularly for those operating in the high-end spectrum of the market. “With imported riser recliner chairs selling for as little as £250 via the internet, there is an increased need to supply high street retailers with locally manufacture, feature rich, high-quality products supported by excellent, product sales training to assist the retailers to compete, resulting in enhanced business profitability,” he commented. Two prospective buyers showed interest in the seating specialist, however, withdrew their offers after further due diligence. Closing the statement, Tony remarked: “The board of directors and management team would like to thank the customers loyal to the AJ Way brand and company, some for many years, for their business throughout our tenure and hope that they find suitable products to fill the gap that the AJ Way products leave in their businesses.”

Nov 2010

June 2013

April 2016

May 2017

Nov 2018

Kirton acquires AJ Way

Kirton undergoes MBO backed by NVM

DHG undergoes MBO back by NorthEdge Capital

DHG acquires Kirton (AJ Way not included)

AJ Way enters administration

The Heartbeat of your

GEL Mobility Over One Million Batteries Sold in the UK!

Tel: 01536 203030 Website: Email:

Ask about our other ranges

living made easy


PRODUCT SHOWCASE: STAIR LIFTS, HOMELIFTS AND ACCESS With close to 1000 suppliers nationwide constantly releasing new products in the mobility and independent living industry, it can be difficult for retailers to keep track of what equipment is available on the market. Living made easy however is aiming to make retailers’ live easier each month with their product showcase, highlighting new, unique and popular products to busy retailers 12 |

The Stair Steady


he StairSteady comprises of a fixed track with a sliding supporting handrail, designed to provide a firm support for either climbing or coming down the stairs. The track is fixed to the wall on the side of the stairs. To use, both hands are positioned on the handrail which then slides along the track when pushed, locking when weight is applied to provide static support. The handle can be folded away when not in use. Manufactured in the UK, the StairSteady was invented by Ruth Amos as part of her GCSE course to design an aid for people with limited mobility and has won amongst other awards, ‘Young Engineer for Great Britain’ and ‘Best Established Product’ by the British Healthcare Trade Association.

MOBILE STAIR CLIMBER Barrowmead’s Stairmatic is an attendant controlled and battery powered stairlift, suitable for use on a variety level floor surfaces and straight or curved steps, including narrow or spiral staircases. It features a cushioned, integrated seat, fold up armrests and footplate and safety strap. Once charged, the battery-operated motor is designed to cover a range of up to 1000 steps. The lift and lower switch is located on the handle and there’s an emergency stop button and brakes with automatic sensors to stop at the step edge. The stairlift can be made-to-measure and operator training is provided. It is designed for indoor and outdoor use.

CUSTOMISABLE COMPACT HOMELIFT The Stratum from Stannah is a selfsupporting vertical lift that travels ‘through-the-floor’ over two levels. It doesn’t require major structural alterations to be installed and it can be fitted practically anywhere in the home. There’s no lift shaft; the Stratum is designed to look compact when it is in the room and leave a feeling of space when it is sent up and down between floors. It incorporates a number of safety features including pressure sensitive safety surfaces, a battery back-up and 30-minute fire integrity. The lift car can be half-height or fully enclosed. A range of cabin sizes - suitable for a wheelchair user or up to two-three people standing – and customisable options are available. 020 7289 6111 | 13

living made easy


An alternative to an open car lift


ith its full height door and fully enclosed sides, the freestanding VE through-floor lift can carry multiple occupants simultaneously - for example, a parent can travel with their child or a wheelchair user with their patient. It has a Safe Working Load of 250kg and boasts a wide range of optional extras, including a seat, in-car emergency phone and the option of a power door. The flooring is designed to be strong and compact, with the addition of a small integral ramp. The underside safety edges will halt the lift in the event of an obstruction. The VE can be lowered manually in the event of a power failure. It can also be fitted with an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) system, so that the lift can still be used a few times even without mains power. The VE, manufactured by Wessex Lifts, is designed to take up a minimum of space in the home and offers many possibilities for customisation. is the UK’s leading comparison site for equipment for independent living, used predominately by disabled and older people or their relatives and friends. Our comprehensive database helps around two million people a year. If you are a supplier and would like to list your products on Living made easy, contact our data services team at

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Unlike a traditional perch, the tilting saddle style seat on the Stannah Sadler is designed to take the user’s weight, allowing them to maintain a more upright posture and minimise the weight supported by the legs – an option for those with limited flexibility in their knees and hips. The arms and footrest fold simultaneously, designed so that users do not have to bend to fold their stairlift at the top or bottom of the stairs. There’s a retractable, secure seatbelt that can be fastened with one hand and intuitive controls that can help those with limited dexterity. The slim design can suit narrow stairs - the curved rail leaves ample room for the user and others to use the stairs safely. The wall controls allows the stairlift to be called from another floor and the battery powered motor enables it to continue to work in the event of a power cut. The Sadler comes in stone woven upholstery with a light wood trim and is available in different heights.

Seated stairlift for curved stairs


he Otolift TWO Stairlift has a slim double-tube rail that is mounted close to the wall; the stairlift can run on either the outside or inside curve. Designed to take up little room, the footrest and armrests fold up and the chair folds away when not in use, leaving walking space on the stairs for other users to pass by. It’s fitted with ergonomic controls on the armrest and the safety belt that can be operated with one hand. The lift can be called by using the wireless

remote controls. The seat swivels, allowing a safe dismount. The stairlift is battery operated and will work in the event of a power cut. An all-round safety system will stop the chair lift automatically if any obstacles are detected in its path. The TWO is available with additional features including a powered swivel and powered footrest raiser along with a range of colours and upholstery options.

THE STILTZ DUO+ The Stiltz Duo+ is the newest addition to their Duo HomeLift range. It’s curved shape and clear car body is designed to fit in small spaces within the home - it can be installed in the corner of a room, cupboard or in a stairwell void if required. The lift does not use hydraulics or need to be fixed to walls - the lift car travels on self-supporting rails and is powered by an electric motor drive system that is housed at the top of the lift. Designed to be economical to run, the lift plugs directly into a domestic power socket and is operated using the in-car control panel or through remote controls from outside the lift. Also available is the Trio+, a larger home lift designed to carry a full-sized wheelchair or three people. 020 7289 6111 | 15



SEATING PARTNERSHIP TO EXPAND CONSOLOR OPERATIONS Consolor and Millbrook Seating Division have formed a new partnership, bringing together the organisations’ expertise, resources and capacity to create one of the UK’s leading specialist seating provider.


ontinuing to trade as Consolor, executive directors Kieran Cheer and Simon Keeling, who formed Consolor in 2006, will continue to lead the expanded company. Phillip Campling, Millbrook Healthcare’s Managing Director, commented: “Providing the highest level of support to our joint customers and clinicians across the UK is of the upmost importance; the enlarged Consolor not only ensures that we

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are able to do this but that they can also continue to innovate and develop products and services in response to customers’ needs.” The new Consolor team will now operate from a special seating manufacturing facility in Totton, Southampton. Kieran Cheer, Director of Consolor, commented: “Consolor has always been passionately committed to providing the most effective seating

and mobility solutions to its customers and clients, whilst priding ourselves on producing the highest quality products and innovations. “This exciting new partnership will enable Consolor to push further ahead with the development of new products and services to benefit our existing, new and future customers.”

OT perspective

WHAT SHOULD WE ALL BE BEARING IN MIND WHEN IT COMES TO MOVING AND HANDLING? First up, you’ve probably heard the terms ‘moving and handling’ bandied around quite a lot but even though we use these terms a lot, we’re not always absolutely clear on what they mean. 18 |


o, here’s the definition according to the regulations: “Any transporting or supporting of a load (including the lifting, putting down, pushing, pulling, carrying or moving thereof) by hand or bodily force.” When we’re referring to moving and handling in the world of occupational therapy, we’re specifically talking about how to transport or support clients in moving from one place to another who otherwise would not be able to do so. Examples are: • Moving a client from their bed to a bath for washing purposes • Moving a client from downstairs to upstairs • Lifting a client from their bed to a wheelchair or other support device Clearly, as with every other element of occupational therapy, our focus is simple: to allow the client to have the best quality of life possible, in the safest way possible. ASSESSING MOVING & HANDLING NEEDS The key to doing the above is to be absolutely clear on what is necessary for the client and how to deliver it in the safest way possible – if you can correctly assess what is needed, you can serve your clients effectively, and as a manufacturer, clinician or shop, you can then recommend the right equipment to meet the need. In order to improve your moving and handling assessment ability, it’s worth joining the National Back Exchange and attending their conference each year. Equally, the Disabled Living Foundation’s Moving and Handling People Conferences happen in various locations throughout the year and are well worth attending. SINGLE HANDED CARE Over the last decade, there has been a big move towards single handed care in the word of moving and handling, and from an economic view, it makes sense. Here’s why: A mobile hoist used by two carers

to support a person with bed transfers to a commode four times a day may cost £700 for the hoist and £35.00 per call (x 4 calls a day), at a daily cost of £140 a day. That’s a lot of money. Plus, if one carer is running late, the call gets delayed, and during times when resource is stretched – like over Christmas for example – the requirement for two carers makes things a lot more challenging. On the flipside, a ceiling track hoist may cost £3,000 up front, but if it means that one carer can do the same job that would take two without the hoist, it’d take just 42 days for the cost of the hoist to be covered, releasing the second carer to help someone else. WHAT ABOUT UNEXPECTED MOVING & HANDLING? Should a fall occur, there needs to be an effective strategy for the carer that will allow them to raise the person up from the floor in a safe, dignified manner. A person who has fallen is usually distressed and upset and potentially injured. If injured, an ambulance should be called. If not, they may display behaviours that mean helping them could be a challenge. Transferring a person from the floor back to standing without equipment is difficult and not recommended. The minimum would be from the floor to a chair but even that should not be attempted if you don’t have a clear idea of how to do it. If the client is usually hoisted, a hoist that picks up from the floor may be needed or if a risk assessment has been carried out and the falls process written, a safe single-handed care technique from the floor with the correct provision of equipment, strategy, assessment and training can be applied. The equipment will need to be simple and intuitive to use and the staff using it will need to know how to access it. As well as single-handed care equipment you may also require access to a slide sheet to position

the person away from any immediate hazards and allow room for the equipment to be used. WHAT ABOUT THE EQUIPMENT? A great deal of ambulance trusts now use the Mangar Health Elk or Camel which can easily be operated by one person regardless where the person falls. The Mangar Camel is similar to the Elk, although it has a backrest support, making it suitable for more users than a Camel. The Camel is more suitable for larger or heavier clients. FURTHER RESOURCES Members of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists will be able to access moving and handling information online – there’s some good information on there, so I’d strongly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already. If not a member, do look at as we run seminars around Moving & Handling with Handicare and work closely with Disabled Living Foundation who offer training too!

Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and a recognised expert in the field of home adaptations. His experience is sought by manufacturers and service providers looking for an expert opinion. Stuart also runs the Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference (OTAC). | 19

distribution deals

Exclusive German hospital bed distribution for Innova


erman hospital bed manufacturer Völker has partnered with Innova Care Concepts to expand its presence in the UK healthcare market, with the Yorkshire-based company gaining UK exclusivity. Having recently won a number of high-profile contracts with the NHS and private hospitals across the country, the partnership will see Innova’s product offering expand. The company is now supplying Volker beds to Spire Healthcare Group hospitals as well as trialling the range at hospices and other healthcare facilities. Managing Director of Innova Tom Hulbert said: “Volker has designed a range of cutting-edge beds where the design fits into any healthcare environment without it feeling too clinical. That’s exactly what we want to offer to patients – we don’t want them to be intimidated by the equipment. “By becoming exclusive UK distributors of Volker hospital beds, it helps us to achieve our vision of becoming the most sought-after brand in the healthcare sector.”

Joe Hulbert with Volker beds ready to be delivered to Barnsley Hospice

OTAC Events 2019

Event dates have been released!

• Chester

Wednesday 6th February

Who else wants their product in front of HUNDREDS of occupational therapists? OTAC is the UK’s only FREE occupational therapy and adaptations conference, giving retailers valuable opportunities to showcase their products, and OTs crucial knowledge of products that can make their clients’ lives better? To talk to us about exhibiting at OTAC, call us now on: 02921 900 401 or email

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• Leeds

• Southampton

• Torquay

• Newcastle

• Cambridge

• Kent

• Reading

• Cardiff

Wednesday 24th April

Wednesday 1th May

Wednesday 12th June

Wednesday 10th July

Wednesday 11th September

Tuesday 22th October

Wednesday 6th November


Wednesday 4th December

Sponsored by

Technical Roadshow All 9 Events Proudly Sponsored by

To book your FREE tickets visit our website or email For more information on exhibiting please contact



ollowing the launch of its innovative new step lift to the industry and introducing a new referral scheme for retailers, Oyster Mayfair says it is close to securing an international distribution deal. Neal Boswell, Marketing Manager at Oyster Mayfair, told THIIS that appearing online and in the latest

issue of THIIS magazine has resulted in a new opportunity for a possible overseas distribution deal. The company recently launched two models of its invisible step lift, the Model V and Model VH. The Model V a vertical travel lift for up to 780mm where a series of steps are not involved.

The Model VH is a vertical and horizontal travel lift. Similar to the Model V, it can travel vertically up to 780mm, but the top platform that the wheelchair stands on slides out horizontally up to 1000mm, bridging the gap between the steps and floor.

December Offers Berlin Dual Motor Riser Recliner Chair • Lift, rest and recline action • Easy to use dual motor operation • Facility to raise footrest whilst backrest remains upright • Complete with easy to operate handset • Side pocket for convenient handset storage • Raises to an almost standing position for easy transfer • Finished in deluxe leather effect upholstery • Includes 2 year warranty against manufacturing faults


£279 Ex VAT

Order now, quote "THIIS Riser Recliner"

Betterlife Folding Suitcase Ramps These double width track ramps offer a wide non-slip driving surface with a substantial weight load capacity. The two hinged tracks simply unfold and can be positioned accordingly for maximum safety and support with an angled lip at the top of the ramp for added security

£50 Ex VAT

Features • Load max: 272kg • Overall Width: 720mm (Applies to each of the ramps)

Order now, quote "THIIS Ramp"

Offers valid until 31/12/18. Prices correct at time of going to print. Product and offers are subject to availability.

Dedicated account manager Order today – Call us on 01772 643 800 or email at | 21

COULD A NEW INNOVATION REVOLUTIONISE THE MOBILITY MARKET? Often, product innovation comes in the form of incremental improvements to existing technology but every so often, an innovation comes along that can shift the entire landscape of an industry. Such products are few and far between, however, one company in Market Harborough may have created such an invention for the mobility sector. Speaking with DBS Technologies’ John Rees, the inventor behind a new remote battery monitoring system, and Henry James, Managing Director of the DBS Group, the two discussed how their new device is planning to revolutionise the mobility scooter and powerchair market for manufacturers, retailers and end-users.

Battery Store shop front with DBS Leoch office above in Market Harborough

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s mobility scooters continue to rise in popularity amongst those with mobility needs, there has also been a growing number of incidents relating to the products. With some speculating there could be close to half a million mobility scooters on British pavements and roads today, reports of thefts and accidents relating to the products have become an almost daily occurrence. In 2015, police statistics identified over 500 scooters were stolen, with only 22 percent recovered, whilst figures from the Department of Transport revealed there were a reported 260 accidents involving mobility scooters. It has led to manufacturers, retailers, trade associations, insurance companies, police forces, MPs and more to investigate ways of improving user safety and tackling the issues. A new solution from the DBS Group however is aiming to help tackle many of the issues surrounding mobility vehicles by improving data capture, user safety and product design across all levels of the supply chain. WHAT IS THE BMS 24SEVEN? Designed with a built-in GPS functionality and linked PC-based management software, the BMS 24seven is a new, remote battery monitoring system created by DBS Technologies, the technological and development arm of the DBS Group. With a number of years’ experience working in remote monitoring for

Henry James, MD of the DBS Group, is excited about what the new device could mean for the industry

explained Henry James, Managing Director of the DBS Group. “I was working with him in a former position and he took me through the idea. I’d had thoughts about a similar product for other markets so we decided to move ahead. Now we have a product that we are really excited about, particularly in regards to all of its different applications.” The hardware itself is relatively simple. The system uses a SIM card that constantly connects the device wirelessly to the internet and sends

“The BMS 24seven will be able to tell retailers if end-users are recharging their batteries correctly” JOHN REES

patient hoists, inventor John Rees saw the opportunity to create a battery monitoring system that would be applicable to the mobility scooter market and complement DBS Leoch’s range of specialist batteries. “It is John’s baby and he is certainly the brains behind the product,”

data on a mobility scooter’s location and voltage to a cloud-based web portal in real-time via GPS. The genius of the device lies in its cloud-based portal and extensive range of applications however, giving manufacturers keen to learn more about their products’ performance

and retailers looking to offer a deeper level of customer service, precious information. ADVANCED APPLICATIONS Automatic alerts relating to battery life, geofencing, emergency assistance buttons and lost scooter tracking capabilities are just some of the features the product promises, says Henry. “The device has a number of inputs and a number of outputs. The outputs could be sending a light to the mobility scooter or locking the motor down if it is on a hire fleet vehicle and has gone out of a certain radius,” he explained. “Likewise, the monitor will feed information back from the mobility scooter to a cloud-based platform, collecting and relaying data. It enables a level of connectivity to mobility vehicles that bring them into the modern world.” Better battery care With patents pending in the UK, US and Europe, the company plans for the battery monitor to bring about a change in the way retailers and end-users care for mobility scooter | 23

batteries, with the system allowing for remote monitoring of a battery’s health in real-time. “From a battery perspective, the device gathers and relays battery voltage information and through that and the online portal, we can start to see how many times the battery is being charged and cycled,” said Henry. The system then uses that information to monitor and generate reports relating to the health of an end-user’s mobility scooter battery, detailing distance, power used, recharging and voltage. “The BMS 24seven will be able to tell retailers if end-users are recharging their batteries correctly,” explained John. “If someone is plugging in their scooter, charging for five minutes and unplugging it to use repeatedly, then the life of the battery is going to drop significantly. “Rather than wait until the battery has been exhausted, the monitor can alert a dealer after three or four times that the customer is not charging it correctly so that they are able to contact their customer and address the issue.” In addition, the system will send an alert when a battery needs replacing, allowing a retailer or customer to take action before a situation occurs. “It means there is better battery care in the industry, which is what I want to see,” commented Henry. “I want to see batteries looked after and charged correctly, so the less misuse, the better.” Safety and security In addition to battery care, the monitoring system will also look to tackle issues surrounding end-user safety and mobility scooter security via its tracking capabilities. The SIM card allows the device to be tracked and it also has the ability to geofence locations, alerting the user, family members, carers or others if the mobility scooter has gone outside of a designated radius. The device will also allow those with authorised access to be able to see immediately where the device is remotely via its online platform.

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“Authorised users can see if a family member has returned home or if they are still out, if the battery on their vehicle is running low or if the scooter has remained stationary for a long time,” said Henry. Another feature providing peace of mind is a ‘help’ switch, similar to an emergency button found on hospital beds, which allows users to send emergency messages to predetermined contacts in the event of a crisis. Additionally, should the scooter fall over, a ‘tilt’ switch can detect the movement and alert the relevant people. According to John, the system not only enhances user safety but the scooter’s security as well. “The ability to track the scooter means if someone steals it, then the owner, dealership or police are able to see exactly where it is,” he observed. “There is also an ability to add a kill-switch so when the scooter does leave a certain area, the monitor system will disable the scooter to prevent it from travelling any further. This is useful in cases of theft or for vulnerable owners that may have travelled too far safely from an area.” For any thieves that may look to tamper with the battery monitoring device on the scooter, John added that the system would prevent the scooter from functioning. “If someone was to try and remove the system, the mobility scooter itself would cease to function. Also, the device will send out an alert message for six-months which is powered by its own battery, alerting contacts that it has been tampered with and sending out its exact location.” REACHING ALL LEVELS OF THE MOBILITY TRADE DBS Technologies is now planning to connect with all levels of the mobility scooter and powerchair supply chain, with the company underlining the

The BMS 24seven aims to offer a number of opportunities and solutions for manufacturers and retailers

different benefits the innovation will offer manufacturers and retailers. “We are planning to engage with the market on three levels, working with manufacturers, retailers and endusers,” said Henry. “We also want there to be a hierarchy of access, whether it is very top of the supply chain, with OEMs and suppliers gathering data on their scooters, to retailers who can offer an exceptional aftercare service by having the information to pre-empt problems, all the way to the end-users and their loved-ones who get valuable peace of mind.” Advantages for manufacturers According to Henry, the BMS 24seven will give manufacturers the ability to benefit from intimate usage data relating to their products. “Manufacturers can see how a product is performing, where something might be wrong, what is going right and where the potential is to improve the model. We see the BMS 24seven as being a key tool in helping to advance mobility scooter development,” he assured. The information related to monitoring voltage of the scooters being used by end-users will provide manufacturers with data relating to consumer trends, allowing manufacturers to tailor products more to their users’ needs. “Manufacturers need to bring their scooters into the modern world so they can understand how their machines are being used and understand if there are potential

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customers and highlight the need for battery replacement before a burdensome problem arises. “For retailers being able to offer this service, it is a powerful selling tool and allows them to really take their aftercare service to the next level, creating packages to sell to their customers which will act as a key differentiator to their competitors,” he added. “Having shown it to a number of retailers, there are some that are keen to purchase demo units already, so we know the demand is there.” In particular, Henry discussed the potential of retailers offering a subscription model and earning a regular income from the product. “For example, if the device was already fitted on a model from the manufacturer, the retailer could advertise that they work with the system, activate it on the vehicle and charge a subscription model, offering a round the clock monitoring service for a fee. There are a range of avenues for companies to engage with the product that would be beneficial for retailers.” DBS Technologies confirmed that

The new scooter monitoring device will be available from early 2019

product pitfalls before they become serious problems,” continued Henry. “This way, manufacturers will be able to stay ahead of the game and make product development decisions based on empirical data.” Confirming to THIIS the company is already in discussions with manufacturers about the new innovation, John noted the system has received a positive response thus far. “We have visited and shown the system to mobility scooter manufacturers who have told us that they have never seen anything like it,” he said. “They are really excited with its potential.” New levels of customer service for retailers Alongside engaging with manufacturers, DBS Technologies is also keen to bring the product to the retail market, underlining the various opportunities it presents to mobility dealers.

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“Manufacturers can see how a product is performing, where something might be wrong, what is going right and where the potential is to improve the model.” HENRY JAMES

“The BMS 24seven will allow mobility retailers to offer a level of customer service never before seen in the industry, where they can really help customers care for their batteries and extend the life of their products,” noted Henry. By addressing issues of battery care early and replacement provision at the right time, the system is set to save end-users avoidable hassle and retailers both time and money, as well as providing a greater depth of aftersales service. Receiving an alert that a mobility scooter battery’s lifespan is coming to an end, retailers can contact

the online portal will also include a training platform, providing retailers with easily accessible information. “The portal is going to be simple to use straight away, so with a few clicks, users will be able to find what they need and if not, we are only a phone call away to offer additional support. We’ll also provide marketing support, as well as an open, online forum to encourage people from all levels to feedback, share thoughts and ideas to develop it further,” commented the passionate MD.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from everyone at KYMCO UK!

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High hopes for hire fleet For those retailers and Shopmobilities in the industry offering a hire service of mobility vehicles, the company says the device will also be vital for monitoring and controlling their fleet. “On the hire fleet side, we want to help those who rent their scooters ensure that the devices are being used

information with a really easy and simple to use interface.” LOOKING TO THE FUTURE Even though the product is yet to launch, Henry already has big plans for the monitoring system’s development. “I can’t express how excited I am

“There is nothing like this in the industry at the moment and I think this is going to bring about a real change to the industry.” HENRY JAMES

correctly and safely,” remarked Henry. “With the monitoring system, retailers and Shopmobilities will be able to track where their scooters are and with its ability to geofence designated zones, they can be alerted if their scooter has travelled too far or even shut the scooter down.” Grabbing insurers’ interest In conjunction with engaging mobility retailers and manufacturers, DBS Technologies hopes to bring insurance companies on board as well. “We have spoken to Thatcham, as well as insurers in the industry and the feedback is really positive, especially in regards to the tracking and monitoring aspect of the product,” said Henry. “What we are looking for is a reduction in insurance premiums and fees if the device is fitted and will provide another reason for all in the supply chain to work with the system.” WHEN WILL IT ENTER THE MARKET? Coming in two models – the BMS 24seven and the BMS 24seven Pro – Henry told THIIS that the product is scheduled to launch in early 2019. “We are finalising the portal and then it will be ready to bring to market,” he confirmed. “The company we are working with for the portal design specialise in producing this kind of system, so it will benefit from having all the right

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about the potential this holds. There really are no limits to where we can develop it as well,” he stressed. “The device’s hardware itself will

not change much now from what we have at the moment, however, most updates, improvements and developments will take place on the portal, with firmware we can push wirelessly to the device. This means for the device to become obsolete in six months, 12 months or two years’ time is extremely unlikely, as it is all developed in the backend.” With its extensive range of applications and long-term ambitions, the new battery monitoring system seems well-placed to address many of the issues that currently exist in the world of mobility. “We have spoken to a lot of people in the industry and we have had a lot of positive feedback. There is nothing like this in the industry at the moment and I think this is going to bring about a real change to the industry,” finished Henry.

What is the DBS Group? The Group consists of DBS Leoch – its battery specialist operations, DBS Technologies - its technological development company, and the Battery Store – its retail operation with six stores across the UK. Managing Director Henry James commented: “My family has been in batteries for almost 50 years now, starting with my grandfather. DBS Energy, as we were formerly known, was a key distributor for a major manufacturer called Leoch. At the start of 2018, we formed a joint venture to help provide the perfect solution into the UK, changing our name to DBS Leoch.” As a wholesaler of batteries, DBS Leoch mainly imports from China and distributes across the UK and also into Europe as well. With the additional resource from its relationship with Leoch, the Group is now in the midst of an expansion, developing its retail operations, introducing its new monitoring system and launching new batteries to various markets. “Mobility accounts for 12 percent of our turnover, so it is one of our big three markets

which has seen a lot of growth over recent years,” said Henry. “We are active in the market with Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries and have recently added to our portfolio with a range of Gel mobility batteries. “Historically, mobility has been a tougher market to get a foothold in because of some key players have been dominant over the years. However, we have taken a lot of market share this year because I think dealers are appreciating our product and service.” The company says it is able to supply one or two batteries next day easily or supply by the pallet load because it has a high-value stock-holding. “Additionally, we sell batteries in packs of two because all scooters come with two batteries. When batteries are replaced, both batteries should be replaced at the same time, so all of our batteries – except the really big, heavy ones – come in packs of two. It makes it nice and simple for the retailer or distributor, as well as the end-user,” added Henry.

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SELLING HOMELIFTS TO BE 200% MORE “LUCRATIVE” FOR DEALERS CLAIMS STILTZ With over a decade of industry experience, Alister Gur has joined homelift specialist Stiltz as the company’s new sales manager and is highlighting the significant gain to be made selling its range. He will now be responsible for promoting the company’s Homelift Referral Partner programme – the compulsory entry-level tier of its threelevel partner programme – to mobility aid centres and trade dealers around the country. Offering companies a payment of £1,000 commission for every referral resulting in a sale, the 32-year-old sales manager says Stiltz provides dealers in the market with a rewarding and unique opportunity in comparison to selling stairlifts. “The Referral Partner programme is much more lucrative to businesses than selling stairlifts where the average referral fee is around £300,” commented Alister. “At Stiltz, our referrers will receive a guaranteed £1,000, which is an increase in commission of more than 200 percent, with prompt and efficient payments.” In addition to the profitable commission, Stiltz also provides generous loyalty bonus once a referral partner sells five Stiltz lifts says Alister. Companies in the Referral Partner scheme can move up to become Affiliate Partners, allowing partners the opportunity to complete the sale with their customer and earn a higher level of commission. Businesses can also become a fully-fledged Premium Partners, enabling them to take control of the sales, marketing and installation process.

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Motability’s awardwinning dealers


he Motability Scheme has awarded nine powered wheelchair and mobility scooter dealerships for their high standards of care and exceptional customer service. Customers of the scheme are contacted randomly and asked to provide feedback on a particular dealer’s customer service. From this feedback, Motability determines which dealers deserve an award. The awards are then given out in three categories, depending on the size of the company. Every scooter and powered wheelchair dealership that has 35 customers or more is entered into the awards and each scored an average of 9.5 out of 10 or over. The winning and commended dealerships in the large and medium

categories all scored 9.8 or above and the winning dealership of the small category achieved full marks. The winners are as follows: Large category (more than 200 customers) Winner – Ability Matters Highly Commended – Millercare and Easy Mobility Services Medium category (between 100-200 customers) Winner – True Mobility Highly Commended – Scootermart Mobility Centre and RKS Small category (between 35-100 customers) Winner – John Preston Highly Commended – Steddy and The North East Mobility Warehouse

The team at True Mobility

Ability Matters has won the large category award for the second year running, while Millercare, Scootermart Mobility Centre and RKS have all received awards in previous years too.

COUNTY COUNCIL PREPARES TO INVEST Nottinghamshire County Council is to receive £3.5 million from the Department of Health and Social Care to help ease pressures on adult social care over winter. The extra money comes as part of a £240 million fund into the NHS which was announced by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock in the October Budget, aiming to reduce delayed transfer of care. The Council revealed it is to spend £600,000 on short-term beds in care homes for people leaving hospital who need additional support, alongside a further £250,000 in extra equipment for those receiving home care after being in hospital, including people with restricted mobility.


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REMEMBRANCE COMMEMORATIONS On the 11th November, Remembrance Sunday honoured the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars, as well as later conflicts. With this year commemorating 100 years since the end of hostilities in the First World War, THIIS has highlighted some of the activities undertaken in the industry to honour the occasion.

RECARE COMMISSIONS WAR MEMORIAL Oxfordshire-based retailer Recare has commissioned a war memorial outside the Tackley War Memorial Hall to remember the 17 men from the local village who died fighting in World War One. Richard Holland-Oakes, CEO of Recare, said: “When you look back and realise that 100 years ago, the village of Tackley had only 150 houses, and 17 men lost their lives to enable us the freedom and enjoyment for the idyllic village that we know today, a lot was lost from such a small isolated community.” Recare added that it hopes the Tackley village is proud of the new monument and was created in respect of the families’ losses of the fallen men.

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Electric Mobility supports BLESMA parade for 15th year


upporting the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA), Electric Mobility provided its Rascal 388 deluxe mobility scooters to help ensure limbless veterans were able to take part in the 100th anniversary Cenotaph Parade in London on Remembrance Sunday. Dedicating his own time, Dave Pierce, Electric Mobility’s Warehouse Manager, coordinated providing 20 mobility scooters as part of the partnership with BLESMA, the only national Armed Forces Charity that supports limbless veterans who have lost limbs or lost the use of limbs or eyes for the duration of their lives. The company’s 15th year working with the Association, the day saw some 40 BLESMA members participate along with 10,000 others, marching to remember those lost in the First World War. Elaine Leighton, Marketing & Communications Manager for Electric Mobility, commented: “We are strongly committed to supporting this great veteran charity and will continue to provide mobility scooters to give the veterans the opportunity to fully take part in the parade to pay their respects to those that are lost but not forgotten.”



Stamford-based mobility retailer Scotgate Mobility created its ‘Falling Poppies’ window display to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. Katy Brown, Managing Director of Scotgate Mobility, explained the display was made up on 50 handmade, felt poppies pinned to a green backdrop in a waterfall effect. Working with local organisations in the community to show its support, the shop window was part of a number of Remembrance activities taking place in the town. Alongside the shop’s display, the store displayed posters from the Stamford branch of the Royal British Legion about upcoming events and had a box of poppies to support the Poppy Appeal. In addition, the store also has adorned the front of its mobility scooters with large poppies.

Call to find out more

01787 882 244 or email THS261118

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985

26/11/2018 16:56 | 33

pick of the month



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With Christmas just around the corner, retailers’ in the industry discuss which products are grabbing their attention this December, highlighting one product that has stood out for them and why…

Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Pick of the month: HomeGlow’s B-Warm electric seat warmer

As the year draws to a close and colder, wetter days become the topic of standard British conversation, I have chosen an item which serves a number of purposes for this time of the year: the HomeGlow B-Warm electric seat warmer. “It can be used as an item to draw in family members looking for that practical gift for an elderly relative that has more pairs of socks, slippers or Christmas jumpers than they care to mention. Of course, whilst that family member is with you, they are shown far more equipment and solutions to problems they didn’t even know they had. “It can also be used as an add on sale to any riser / recliner chair, as it acts to warm the user and serve as

a chair protector. You may even want to use it as an incentive to buy the premium chairs in your range. “Regarding the detail of the product, it is a mains powered electric blanket that fits on the chair and has a hand control to adjust the heat setting. It is machine washable should there be any little accidents. “Its power consumption is such that it costs around 0.5p per hour to run and reduces the need to heat the whole house. This can be a significant saving on costs and may also be of interest to small residential homes to reduce the heating bills and it can be found at www.homeglowproducts.

Michelle Mossford, Senior Marketing Manager of Ableworld

PICK OF THE MONTH: DRIVE’S ONE TOUCH CAN OPENER “In the UK, more than 10 million people have arthritis, unfortunately there is no cure but one of the ways to manage it is by finding products that can assist you. “The One Touch automatic can opener is ideal for those people who have arthritis in the hands or have a weak grip.

“Simply place the can opener on the can, activate the button and the opener will spin and cut the can in seconds. There are no sharp edges and the lid never falls off! “Just another product that Ableworld provide with the sole intention of keeping the user independent for longer.” | 35

pick of the month

Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility

Pick of the month: Classic Canes’ Walking Stick range

Since we have Christmas approaching fast, my product of the month is an ideal Christmas present for grandmas and mothers. The Classic Canes walking sticks come in delicate florals or bold animal prints so there is a design for everyone. They are an elegant expression of style and their unique individuality makes the user feel fashionable and well-dressed, with the choice of different colours adding a finishing touch to any outfit. “They have comfortable handles, are well made, and the folding sticks are easy to unfold and fold with easy adjustments for various heights. “Customers that don’t want to appear frumpy or dull often buy a few to give them a choice to compliment whatever they choose to wear. The sticks are ideal for any special occasion and an excellent choice as a present with a difference. “We usually display the adjustable folding walking sticks around our Christmas tree and decorations in the window, often with bows and ribbons on to gain extra sales at a time that is usually quiet for the mobility trade. Merry Christmas.

Dominic Goldsmith, Director of Style Mobility

PICK OF THE MONTH: PRIDE’S DORCHESTER Given the time of the year, I have decided to go for the ‘Pride Dorchester’ rise and recliner chair as my product of the month. “Since receiving our demo chair, it has been a popular seller from the start. “The Dorchester is an extremely comfortable, well-made chair to begin with so when given the unique added benefit of adjustable head rest, adjustable lumbar support and reasonable retail

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price, it can’t fail to be a customer favourite.

PICK OF THE MONTH: KI MOBILITY’S ROUGE XP Andrew Wynn, Mobility Seating Specialist of Better Mobility

The Ki Rogue XP has proven to be a very popular wheelchair this year for our Paediatric assessments. “The key feature for us being the three inches of growth you can achieve that enables the chair to grow with the user, giving parents peace of mind and making it a cost-effective option. “The high-quality build of the chair will be sure to last years of use and adjustment and has a large range of customisable features that help us to prescribe each wheelchair uniquely to the user’s personality and needs. “Having all of this choice and adjustability within a lightweight and robust frame makes it an ideal first wheelchair for any young user.




The Trident mobility scooter has been inspired by the motorcycle industry. This includes all round suspension, front hydraulic disc brakes and electromagnetic braking to the rear. With its sleek and robust design The Trident provides outstanding comfort, handling and a modern look with a cruising range of up to 25 miles. Comes with Bluetooth connectivity and USB charger.

C L A S S 3 R OA D L E G A L


retailer spotlight

Dave Thompson MBE DL cutting the ribbon to officially launch the new service


INDUSTRY COLLABORATION LEADS TO RETAIL INNOVATION Often in the world of mobility retail, one of the most difficult challenges faced by companies is reaching customers who may not be aware that mobility and independent living products, shops and services exist. A unique new collaboration in Warrington between the NHS and a social enterprise however is working to change this. Dave Thompson MBE DL, CEO of Warrington Disability Partnership & Disability Trading Company, caught up with THIIS to discuss the new partnership. 38 |

from disabled people, at the point where people need it most.”

The new service stands as an example of what can be achieved through collaboration


ith the National Health Service under increasing financial pressure and a growing ageing population, organisations are exploring new ways of collaborating to lead to better outcomes for patients and relieve the strain from overburdened services. In Warrington, local charity Warrington Disability Partnership has partnered with Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to embed a new Mobility and Independent Living Service within the hospital, reaching tens of thousands of disabled residents and carers in the area. Located in the hospital’s orthopaedic fracture clinic near its outpatient department at the rear of Warrington Hospital, the new site sees Warrington Disability Partnership providing information, advice and guidance to visitors. Interestingly, Warrington Disability Partnership – under the banner of its social enterprise Disability Trading Company – is also selling mobility and independent living products from the site. Officially opened in mid-September, Steve McGuirk, Chair at the Trust, commented: “This new service will provide our patients and staff with direct access to mobility and independent living products, as well as peer support, information, advice and guidance to disabled people,

FORMING THE PARTNERSHIP Having been working on introducing the initiative for almost half a decade with the Trust, Dave told THIIS that a key challenge to embedding a Warrington Disability Partnership base in the hospital was funding the staff to run it and finding a suitable, affordable location in the hospital. “The idea was really sound and both the hospital and Local Authority were on board but the funding and location were the real sticking points,” he said. “Earlier this year, we had a situation where we were going to lose two members from our independent living scheme as the Local Authority was planning to reconfigure our service. “We said if they believed in the service we wanted to offer at the hospital, we urged them not to take away the funding from us but rather, allow us to use the funding to have those two members of staff do the in-reach service at the hospital, which they were happy to support.” Solving the issue surrounding staffing, the charity still had to find a place to situate the new service.

scheme. This meant the staff who were going to run the hospital service needed to stay where they were,” described Dave. “The opportunity seemed too good to pass up, as we had found a suitable facility and had the program ready to run, so we worked with the hospital and came to an agreement regarding having a retail operation alongside our information, advice and guidance service.” RETAIL INTEGRATION AND SELF-SUSTAINABLE FUNDING According to Dave, the case was made to the Trust that by combining Warrington Disability Partnership’s in-reach service which would provide valuable information on areas such as employment, independent living and social and personal health budgets, alongside its Disability Trading Company retail operation, the service could become self-sustainable. As well as collaborating with the Trust and Local Authority, Dave also turned to local Warrington businesses to help initially fund the new enterprise. “I was fortunate enough to win the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Warrington Business Awards and I put

“We have patients, their family, their carers and people being discharged coming to speak to us about their mobility and independent living needs” DAVE THOMPSON MBE DL

A fortunate turn of events however resulted in an old pharmacy unit in the fracture clinic becoming available, which Warrington Disability Partnership was allowed to use. With the two major stumbling blocks resolved, the initiative to embed a Warrington Disability Partnership hospital in-reach service looked set to launch until a change in circumstance threatened to derail the project. “Two months out from launch, the Local Authority changed their mind and decided they were not going to reconfigure the independent living

out a plea to local businesses on the night for 10 companies to support the project with three-thousand-pounds in the first year and two-thousandpounds in the second year. That would pay for two, paid members of staff to work in the facility,” said Dave. On the night, Cheshire Telecom, BAS (NW), Dunky’s Day Nursery, Foden Estates, Mech Tech Automotive, Central Self Drive, The Print Company, Toni & Guy, Hoppy Trust and Health Service Money Claims signed up and the project was in business. | 39

retailer spotlight REACHING THE RIGHT PEOPLE AT THE RIGHT TIME At the initiative’s core is information, advice and guidance underlines Dave, with two disabled members of staff providing vital advice and support to a variety of people. “We have patients, their family, their carers and people being discharged coming to speak to us about their mobility and independent living needs,” emphasised Dave. “Additionally, as most of the people who work with the charity and social

operation in a hospital is noteworthy, with the Disability Trading Company gaining access to a customer base who may be facing a new life after a diagnosis of a debilitating and often long-term health condition and unaware of products available to them on the market. According to Dave, the initiative has been well-received and seen a substantial uptake, with a rise in traffic to its Centre for Independent Living off-site, less than a mile away from the hospital. At the Centre, visitors

“We were very careful to make sure that there wouldn’t be a situation where people were not given products because they could now be purchased in the hospital” DAVE THOMPSON MBE DL

enterprise are disabled people, the hospital service is able to offer peerto-peer support, with our disabled staff working with other disabled people, which the hospital loves.” As well as patients, one set of visitors that have found the new service particularly useful are members of staff at the hospital. “We also had a lot of members of staff coming to see us who have shown a great interest in the new service and Warrington Disability Partnership because even they didn’t know the number of services we run as a charity,” he added. As well as providing valuable advice, the organisation is selling a range of mobility and independent living aids through its Disability Trading Company arm to visitors, raising awareness of solutions, as well as much needed funds. “The Disability Trading Company will help generate the revenue needed to help drive the rest of the charity’s activities,” Dave told THIIS. “It really is a holistic approach to improving people’s lives by providing a vital commercial service which can help support the charity’s unprofitable but just as important services.” The concept of embedding a retail

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can browse in a large showroom, take a break in the onsite Café, try out mobility equipment on the Centre’s mobility test track and discuss a whole range of independent living matters with the charities team of advisors. “This means having that outreach in the hospital is really helping to deliver our charitable services,” he said. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION One of the key factors of the retail

outlet’s success is its prime location in the hospital, which is perfectly placed to attract customers leaving hospital and staff interested in new products. “The fact we are located in the fracture clinic, next to physiotherapy and occupational therapy, as well as their independent living discharge flat which is only two doors away and their pain management team which sits in the same area, means we have a great location,” explained Dave. “It is an ideal addition to the hospital’s services and really helps facilitate integrated care, which is so important in the National Health Service.” With the Warrington Disability Partnership / Disability Trading Company hybrid seeing so much success since its launch, the charity is already planning the next step for the initiative. “This is just a stepping stone for us as we plan to move into a larger retail unit at the front of the hospital within the next six months,” confirmed Dave. A RISK OF NHS PRIVATISATION? Inevitably, embedding a mobility retail outlet into an NHS hospital will lead to questions regarding privatisation and conflicting interests, with concerns relating to the Disability Trading Company selling products that the hospital would traditionally give away for free.

Over 30 guests were present at the official opening event including the Mayor of Warrington and members of WDP’s Board of Trustees and staff.

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retailer spotlight

Dave Thompson MBE DL addressing attendees at the service’s launch

According to Dave however, the Trust and social enterprise have worked closely, examining what aids are provided to patients, to ensure no tensions arise. “Regarding privatisation, there are products that we do sell in our Independent Living Centres and our shops elsewhere that the NHS give away and will continue to give away,” he said. “We have had those conversations with the hospital to find out what products are given away, such as

information, advice and guidance,” added Dave. “Disability Trading Company and Warrington Disability Partnership are organisations fighting for the rights of disabled people. This means our sales staff are not paid on commission and do not have sales targets to meet, so there is no incentive to offer anything but the best advice, which is essential when operating in that hospital environment,” he continued. “Every single member of our team has a decent salary and is tasked with

“If you have the wrong type of retailer in that environment, it could lead to some very compromising and potentially harmful situations.” DAVE THOMPSON MBE DL

neck braces, some splints and crutches, and where those products are identified, we will not stock them. “We were very careful to make sure that there wouldn’t be a situation where people were not given products because they could now be purchased in the hospital, hence why we are very selective over what is stocked.” Dave highlighted that because of the Disability Trading Company’s unique set-up as a social enterprise, the retailer has the perfect structure for running the initiative ethically, with a strong values base. “We don’t see every person as a potential customer; most simply need

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providing advice and information. If a product can assist with that, then our staff will make the person aware but that is never driven by a sales motivation, which is why the hospital trusts us to act ethically. “What we make sure is that people get the right information and right advice and the right product, regardless where they buy it. Where necessary, we refer people to other local, regional and national suppliers.” NOT FOR EVERYONE The innovative retail initiative is one formed through close collaboration and relationship building with a number of different parties, providing

an opportunity for all involved to win. Importantly, Dave stressed that whilst embedding a retail outlet in an NHS Trust is a great way to reach end-users at the right time, it is not a model all in the industry could or should adopt. “I think this will be a way forward for many retailers, however, we were very careful regarding how something like this was implemented,” he commented. “The hospital did due diligence checks on us, sent secret shoppers and more to make sure we were the right type of organisation to work with. “You have people who have been diagnosed with life-changing conditions in a very vulnerable state of mind who have been discharged from hospital and walking through outpatients. If you have the wrong type of retailer in that environment, it could lead to some very compromising and potentially harmful situations. “It would be completely wrong and unfortunately, we know that this type of activity still takes place in the industry. That is why the BHTA is so important, helping to ensure trading is fair and true.” THE POWER OF COLLABORATION Now entering its fourth month operating a community outreach and retail base from the hospital, the initiative has gone from strength to strength, acting as a model for what can be achieved by a little creativity and a lot of collaboration.


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more about…


Yorkshire-based Platinum Stairlifts was backed by private equity firm NorthEdge Capital in February 2018. Since then, the company has experienced a tremendous amount of growth, a management reshuffle and heavily invested into product research and development. THIIS caught up with Danny Greenwood, Marketing Executive at Platinum Stairlifts, to find out more about the company’s progression, the importance of its dealer network and future challenges. 44 |

A FOCUS ON CUSTOM BUILDS With the launch of its new Ultimate Stairlift, which was unveiled at the OT Show, Platinum focuses a lot of its attention into creating custom-made products. Talking about the benefits of having a tailor-made stairlift, Danny explained that this ensures the product is a perfect fit for a person’s staircase, regardless of the environment it is being installed into. He said: “Every staircase differs in incorporating various angles and measurements. So, offering a tailormade product gives the user the finished product that they want and deserve.” The marketing executive also said that the Ultimate’s custom build is simple to put together and install, making it easy for dealers who no longer have to worry about complicated staircases or products. Ensuring a perfect fit, the company says the Ultimate will also look to benefit its global dealers’ network, where the home environments the stairlifts are being installed into differ from that of the domestic market. “In Holland, there are a lot of steep, narrow staircases, for example. Whereas in France, there are a lot of barn conversions and downstairs basements and historical builders never considered the need for a stairlift.

PREPARING FOR GROWTH With a substantial proportion of Platinum’s business focused on export, the growing demand of the stairlift market is one that is not just domestic but global. Largely due to the ageing population, the Office for National Statistics reporting in 2016 that the number of over 65s is expected to grow by 20 percent by 2026 in England alone. With this forecasted demographic shift comes an increase in the number of people with mobility issues, subsequently causing a higher demand for mobility aids. The global stairlift market is estimated to be worth £1 billion and growing, a trend not missed by private equity firm NorthEdge Capital. Danny said: “NorthEdge have seen the ageing population and the potential increase for stairlift demand and wanted to prepare Platinum for this growth properly and professionally.” MANAGEMENT RESHUFFLE After receiving the private equity investment backing in February, Platinum also experienced a management reshuffle within the company. “Before, we were growing at such a rate that we were just trying to tie things over,” Danny explained. “But with the management reshuffle,

“NorthEdge have seen the ageing population and the potential increase for stairlift demand and wanted to prepare Platinum for this growth properly and professionally.” DANNY GREENWOOD

“Our product can be built to fit these situations and cater for these issues.” With 70 percent of the organisation’s business consisting of export, the need to create a product that can cater for overseas markets is all the more important for the Yorkshire manufacturer.

it has allowed us to prepare for growth and expansion. Rather than reactive, it’s proactive. We’re putting in placement to cope with the higher demand for stairlifts that’s growing across the world.” The restructure has also allowed Platinum to become more efficient, cut lead times down and look into the quality of its products claims Danny,

Danny Greenwood highlights how investment has led to more innovation

as well invest more time and money into researching and developing new products. RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT AND SALES Commenting on the overall aim, Danny said: “We want to be at the forefront of stairlift design and push the boundaries of what a stairlift can do. Every product we’ve created has made an impact in some way. “People are in this company because they’ve got passion for improving lives. I’ve never witnessed a passion like it any other company. I think that’s what drives us to make our products better.” Following the recent financial backing, Platinum has invested in its manufacturing capabilities, with a key focus on improving productivity. “In the past, manufacturing hasn’t been able to keep up with demand. So, we heavily invested in our productivity and that has been reflected in our sales as they have increased,” emphasised Danny. In addition to the development of new stairlift products, the marketing executive stressed that Platinum also researches how to improve the installation process relating to products for dealers and engineers, something Danny says sets the company apart from its competitors. | 45

more about…

Platinum is now looking to consolidate its manufacturing all under one roof

OVERCOMING STIGMAS It is an often-discussed topic about the difficulty of selling mobility and independent living products to customers, with many stigmatising stairlifts as the embodiment of being elderly and less mobile. Danny commented: “People are happy to use escalators and lifts to save time, yet there’s a stigma around stairlifts and mobility aids. Afterall, a stairlift is just a sit-down escalator.” A recent report by The Centre for Ageing Better highlighted that these stigmas are playing a key role in preventing people from buying mobility equipment until they are in desperate need, rather than future-proofing their homes to ensure they are accessible before their situation deteriorates. It is this problem around product perception that Danny says Platinum is keen to tackle, by developing more attractive products and, importantly, changing the conversation in relation to mobility aids. “We aim to make our stairlifts look attractive and giving the end-users more choice in the type of stairlift they can get,” he explained. “I think there’s been a lack of thought into the visual design of stairlifts and mobility aids. “What I really want to do is push what you can do because of a stairlift – you can become independent again. How exciting is that after losing the

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freedom we often take for granted?” Despite stigmas still being prevalent in the market, Danny suggests people are slowly starting to accept the idea of mobility products becoming a natural part of the ageing process,

coverage and reach, as well as having a local element which is often key for providing customer service and quick aftersales support. When asked about Platinum Stairlifts selling direct to end users, Danny insisted: “We won’t. We absolutely will not. “We sell solely through our dealer channel and that is sacrosanct to us. Our niche in the marketplace is doing what we say we’re going to do, which is support our dealers. “As soon as there’s any slight inkling that we’re going direct to end users, we blow our own integrity. It’s in our business plan that we will only sell to dealers.” He added that he feels some companies within the stairlift sector get enticed by margin opportunities by selling direct to consumers. However, he said that Platinum will not be tempted by this approach, rather staying true to the business model that has garnered the stairlift company so much growth.

“As soon as there’s any slight inkling that we’re going direct to end users, we blow our own integrity. It’s in our business plan that we will only sell to dealers.” DANNY GREENWOOD

citing the company’s growing sales and demand as key indicator of changing consumer tastes. DIRECT-TO-CONSUMER IN THE STAIRLIFT SECTOR An area that often divides opinion, particularly in the stairlift market, is the decision for some manufacturers to sell direct to end-users, with arguments for and against. On the one hand, going direct to consumers can reduce prices for endusers, with manufacturers benefitting from increased margins and complete control over the sales and installation process, forgoing working through a dealer network. Conversely, utilising a dealer network can provide a lot more

“The direction, shape and scale of the business would completely change if we were to go direct to the end user. Being brutally honest, we haven’t got the skill set to do that, let alone the desire,” he added. THE VALUE OF ITS DEALER NETWORK According to Danny, the key advantage of working with a dealer network is it frees up the company to focus more on its products. “It gives us a chance to focus on manufacturing and developing new products, rather than worrying about end-users,” Danny explained. “I think that’s why we’ve developed such unique features, because we’ve had that time.”

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more about… A key element of Platinum’s dealer network structure relates to exclusivity, providing select dealers exclusive reign in certain parts of the country to ensure an area does not become oversaturated. “We don’t want to tarnish the relationships with our dealers, we want to make sure that they grow

the dealer network is a priority for the company and for him particularly. “For me, it’s the number one thing that I want,” Danny said. “The more they rely on us, the more we can build a relationship. They are our customers, they’re the ones that are out there gathering insight, so we want to give all the support to them

“What I really want to do is push what you can do because of a stairlift – you can become independent again. How exciting is that after losing the freedom we often take for granted?” DANNY GREENWOOD

and then, in turn, we get more stairlift sales from that growth,” emphasised Danny. “So rather than getting a few in York, we’ve got one exclusive dealer for the York area, so nobody else can sell our product there. “The more clarity and support we can provide, the more our dealers can spend time surveying, selling and installing. Growing both as a company and our relationship.” The company now says it is reviewing which areas need more coverage and expand its dealer network in the future, continuing to offer certain retailers exclusivity. SUPPLYING SUPPORT In addition to exclusivity, Danny highlighted that providing support to

THE ULTIMATE STAIRLIFT Unveiled at the OT Show, Platinum has announced its latest stairlift offering – the Ultimate Stairlift, offering users an easy, custommade solution. An industry first, the Ultimate offers a unique ‘first-step start’, allowing the stairlift rail to start on the first step of a staircase rather

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that we can.” To provide support for the retailers, Platinum runs extensive training of its range of products. He added that the company can also assist its dealers with stairlift installations until they thoroughly understand the process. “We don’t let them do it on their own until they’re happy and comfortable,” he commented. THE POWER OF OTS Alongside utilising a dealer network, Platinum Stairlifts also emphasises the importance of working with occupational therapists. Danny said: “Occupational therapists are industry influencers, so building relationships with them can help us develop better products, which adds a certain level of

than from the floor. This means there’s no obstacle at the bottom of the stairs anymore, enabling people to use cupboard doors and removing tripping hazards. Additionally, the design removes the need for a hinge to fold up from the floor, which can cause trapping hazards, as well as eliminating the need for construction changes to be made in a person’s home, such as with the installation of a homelift, says the company. The Ultimate also offers forward-

trustworthiness to our stairlifts. “They can also be used to strengthen our current dealers’ business. We tell occupational therapists where the exclusive deals are for our products in a particular area, which benefits our dealers.” GETTING THE PLATINUM NAME OUT THERE As well as attending industry exhibitions, it is important that manufacturers do a number of other initiatives to promote their products to customers. For Platinum, it undertakes a range of different methods to showcase its stairlifts to a wider audience. Danny commented: “Our marketing is about supporting customer relationships, so case studies are a

facing travel which Platinum says no other public stairlift offers. Danny Greenwood, Marketing Executive at Platinum Stairlifts, explained: “This is mainly for tightness, so when you go on it, you can rotate the chair so it can go through tighter spaces by positioning the chair in different angles.” The Ultimate Stairlift also includes a heavy-duty option with a weight capacity of 160kg.

way to promote the lifestyle of the product. We’ve also got some online videos of our stairlifts, which we’re beginning to build and develop.” Although obtaining case studies is easy in the UK, Danny noted that this is more difficult for the company’s export countries as they require translation, however, it is an area that the company is planning to develop further. As well as case studies and online videos, Dany says the company is also working with its dealers on showroom merchandising, providing a space in showrooms for customers to try Platinum products out, along with professional brochures and marketing materials. COMPANY CHALLENGES One of the challenges facing Platinum is the consolidation of its manufacturing all under one roof, with its production currently spread across multiple sites. “At the moment, the buildings that we have for manufacturing are separate because as the business has grown, we’ve had to take units when we can,” Danny commented. Additionally, with rapid growth comes a challenge to balance to manage demand, both from end-users and its dealer network, continued Danny. “There’s a bit of focus that we need to put in, that doesn’t mean we’re not interested in some of the territories, it’s just that managing all of that is a challenge.” THE FUTURE FOR PLATINUM STAIRLIFTS As for the future of the company, Danny concluded: “I’m massively confident in the success we’ll have as a business in the future and our dealer partners will have. All I can see for us is opportunity. “I keep seeing us on the rise as the demographics and the ageing population are in our favour but all that creates is opportunity and fills us all with positivity.”

An unfortunate event jeopardised grand unveiling


or many in the industry, preparing for and exhibiting at industry exhibitions can be demanding affairs, however, for Platinum Stairlifts, the stress increased ten-fold when its van, filled with all of its exhibition supplies, was stolen the night before setup. Having ran a teaser campaign for weeks before the show promoting the grand unveiling of its latest product, the company had invested heavily to make a splash at this year’s OT Show, including purchasing a brand-new, £10,000 exhibition stand. Speaking with Platinum Stairlift’s Sales and Marketing Director Mark McNulty and Marketing Executive Danny Greenwood, the pair recounted the unfortunate event to THIIS. “We were running on tight deadlines and on Monday afternoon, we built up the new stand to test it and it looked great. We dismantled everything and put it away in the van, ready to drive down to the show on Tuesday and Danny took the van home and parked it outside his house so he could leave early to get to the NEC for setup,” explained Mark. Whilst parked outside the marketing executive’s home

however, the TF Smiths van (license plate DX63 RGU) was stolen. “At around half seven, my partner went to take the dog for a walk and it was there. I looked outside at 11:10pm at it was gone!” said Danny. As well as Platinum Stairlift’s new stand, the van also contained two of the company’s new stairlifts including the rails, the carriages and the seats - a MacBook, marketing materials including literature and Platinum shirts, a new SLR camera and Danny’s change of clothes for the show. Faced with the prospect of exhibiting at the event with nothing to exhibit, the team spent Tuesday in its Yorkshire office desperately putting a last-minute stand together before racing to Birmingham to set up. Praising his team’s resilience, Mark commented: “Considering the situation, it hasn’t been a complete disaster. We managed to put something together and look presentable and the team have been brilliant. Plus, if nothing else, it’s an interesting story to tell!” The company is now urging anybody with information relating to the van or its contents to report to the West Yorkshire Police – Keighley. | 49


REPOSE WISHES RETAILERS MERRY CHRISTMAS WITH SPECIAL OFFER Following the end of its second successful year of offering retailers’ special monthly dealers, Repose is rounding off the year with a free, luxury pocket sprung cushion upgrade worth £30. The traditional pocket sprung cushion is designed with individual high tensile steel coil springs in individual pockets gives consistent

support throughout the life of the chair and provides lasting shape to the seat cushion, according to the company. “Our retailers play a vital role in our business and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for their continued support in 2018 and wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” commented Managing Director Lisa Wardley. Available on chairs within the company’s extensive homecare range (not available on seat widths over 22” or seat depths below 16”), retailers should quote December2018 when placing an order between December 1st and 20th to take advantage of the offer. Repose will close for Christmas on Thursday 20th December and reopen Wednesday 2nd January 2019. 50 |

Stylish stocking fillers to consider stocking this winter


esigned to make life easier for women who wish to look good but find high-street fashion inaccessible, The Able Label has released its new Autumn/Winter 2018 collection. The range aims to offer stylish, adaptable clothing, challenging what it calls the basic, frumpy styles created for women, focusing more on function rather than fashion. The new collection includes a variety of products ideal for customers to purchase as gifts for Christmas. Attractive coats and blouses are available as luxury gifts, whilst mini hot water bottles, non-slip socks and magnetic-fastening jewellery make for ideal, lower value stocking fillers, according to the company. All of the company’s products focus on ease of use for the wearer, with Velcro fastenings rather than buttons, colour coordinated tape for those with cognitive difficulties and no overhead dressing. Each style can be purchased in sizes 8–22 as standard, with some available up to 26. To find out more about the range, call 01622 744242 or email cservices@ The company says products such as its Anna sea spray non-slip socks make ideal stocking fillers

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HOW FAR WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO TRAVEL FOR GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE? Just how far would you be willing to travel for good customer service? To a different town? Maybe a different county? For British expat Ian Reid, a wheelchair user for over 30 years who now resides in South Africa, he decided to cross a continent in order to purchase from the team at Motus Medical.


riginally, Ian had planned to purchase the Sunrise Quickie LXi whilst stopping in the USA for five days this April, however, he reported running into pricing and customer care difficulties. “I spent three months contacting so-called suppliers in America and two replied with a price of 999 US dollars and said they would deliver to my Hotel in Seattle as I would be there for five days in August,” explained Ian. “Both never replied again when I started explaining my needs, five others did not bother to reply at all and one kept in contact with me but when I mentioned their competitors were all selling the Quickie LXi at 999 US dollars, they wrote back impossible, this was the old price and they would supply at 1765.75 US dollars.” Disheartened with the service but keen to purchase a wheelchair in the USA due to the difference in price to South America, where the depreciating South African Rand has led to price inflation, Ian decided to take his search online and look in the UK. “A basic wheelchair in South Africa [not many models to choose from] is some 2000 US dollars more

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expensive than the quoted prices in the USA, so you can understand why I wanted to purchase on my visit there,” said Ian. After discovering Motus Medical online, Ian contacted the company and spoke with co-founder Chris Taylor about purchasing his chair from the Stafford retailer instead. Chris told THIIS: “Ian found us

Motus recommended the Quickie Life over the discontinued LXi

online and contacted me via our website. We had several calls where I first explained that we don't normally prescribe chairs over the phone or e-mail, so we would really need to get a very good idea of what it is he needed.” Following many calls and emails with pictures of his current chair, its dimensions and additions including a Quickie Wheelchair back pack and cup holder, the two developed a prescription to order a new Quickie Life Folding wheelchair as an alternative solution to the LXi which is discontinued in the UK. With his new chair ordered, Motus Medical took customer service one step further, managing every aspect of the sale to ensure Ian’s needs were met. “Ian flew into Birmingham then travelled on the train at our advice and stayed in a hotel in Stafford,” said Chris. “I then collected Ian from the hotel and brought him to his new chair at Motus HQ, fitted his old crutch holder and a brand-new backpack all free of charge. He then told me about the extortionate

cost of Crutches in South Africa, so we got on the phone to Jackie James at Sunrise Medical (best customer service ever) and arranged for a pair to be ready for me to collect and I dropped them back with Ian on Thursday.” Chris added: “In between this, we also had a very nice haddock and beer battered fish and chip dinner at the Swan hotel in Stafford, where Ian had mushy peas for the first time in years!” The experience is one that left Ian overwhelmed with gratitude and appreciation for the mobility retailer. “I really do not have words to describe how much I appreciated everything you did for me and both your company and yourself went far beyond any customer service I have ever experienced in my life,” said Ian. “The back pack is awesome and as I have decided to keep the wheelchair permanently in my car, it will be in use every day. I am still speechless over

the crutches as well and I certainly was blessed to have contacted you and the company and I feel you have wonderful people orientated to those with disability which is difficult to find after my Canada and USA experience.” Pleased to have met Ian’s needs, Chris explained to THIIS that he

Ian Reid crossed continents to visit Motus Medical

“It’s important you have a contract with the client regardless of where they live, so you can both know what the outcome will be.” CHRIS TAYLOR

believes good customer service starts with both parties having open dialogue and the retailer having a clear understand of the customer’s needs. “To my mind, this is where customer service is best explained, as it's important you have a contract with

the client regardless of where they live, so you can both know what the outcome will be. “That's customer service!”


NEW WELSH SUPPORT SURFACE TESTING FACILITY OPENS DOORS The Welsh Wound Innovation Centre (WWIC) has recently opened the UK’s first support surface testing facility in South Wales, offering testing for manufacturers and health services, including pressure redistribution and strength, impact and durability testing. In development for two years, the project has been led by Lab Director Professor Michael Clark, past president of the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel, alongside an established team of clinicians. The WWIC will now look to align with the new international standard for pressure care mattress and cushion testing, ISO 20342. According to Professor Clark, the standard has been put in place to outline safety and performance tests to ensure that assistive products for tissue integrity are not causing further harm or injury to the user.

Comfomatic springs into action for Macmillan


djustable bed specialist Comfomatic has hit the £100,000 fundraising mark for Macmillan Cancer Support, providing much needed to support to people with cancer and their families. With its director, a recently retired district nursing sister who worked closely with the Macmillan nursing team, seeing first-hand the tremendous work they do, the company decided to start donating to the charity two years ago. In recognition of the £100,000 achievement, the Comfomatic team have invited Macmillan’s Corporate Fundraising Manager, Megan Kong, to join them at a celebration in their call centre. Comfomatic confirmed that it has now set its sights on reaching a landmark target of £250,000.

MAJOR NHS WHEELCHAIR SERVICES CONTRACT WIN AJM Healthcare has been awarded a major contract for the NHS Wheelchair Service for Adults and Children across Derbyshire following its recent management buy-out. Delivering services to a population of over two million, AJM was selected following a tender competition which the company says focused on quality, with a

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weighting of 90 percent. The service will work with the Derbyshire Wheelchair Service Review Group to ensure transparency and deliver a range of improvements, including providing a Personal Wheelchair Budgets scheme to support choice and control. Aiming to address the balance of

health inequalities within the county, the service will be promoted to minority groups, hard-to-reach and ‘seldom heard from’ groups.

meet... (from left) Andrew Stevenson and Andrew Barker



ollowing the departure of Mandie Lavin in November as director general of the British Healthcare Trades Association, the organisation has appointed two new individuals to interim roles as it begins the search for new leaders. Andrew Stevenson, interim Director General, and Andrew Barker, interim Commercial Director, spoke to THIIS about their new appointments and what the immediate future holds for the Trades Association. Why has the decision been taken to introduce the role of interim commercial director to the BHTA alongside interim director general? Andrew Barker: Prior to Tracey White taking on the post of director general in May 2015, she originally started with the BHTA in 2011 as commercial director, so it was a position that had previously existed within the Association. Her original role was never replaced and, with the benefit of hindsight, it is clear to the Association that it is an essential role for the success of the BHTA. The plan was for Mandie to

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have appointed someone for the commercial director position after a period in the role, unfortunately, a change in her personal circumstances means she is no longer with the BHTA. It is a shame as in the short time she was with the Association, she was well liked by all the members and played a very active role in going out to meet members. Very much the face of the organisation, it is fair to say she established a very good working relationship with those members she met. Following her departure, it was suggested that the organisation look at appointing two interim roles so we could start doing some of the work that needs to be done straight away. The suggestion was approved by the Board at the BHTA Board Meeting on the 13th November and I believe it is an ideal solution for the organisation moving forward. What are the benefits to appointing the two interim roles? Andrew Barker: It avoids a void left by Mandie’s departure and allows the Association to continue moving ahead, as well as providing a

degree of breathing space whilst an appointment process takes place to find the right permanent candidate. Members will not see any difference in the interactions with the BHTA and, if anything, it is a positive step in helping the BHTA develop and implement some activities quicker than it may have been able to do in the past. What has the response been from your members following the appointments? Andrew Barker: Very positive. We have both been in the industry for quite some time and it helps that we both know each other as it means we have a positive working relationship which the roles require. What will each role involve? Andrew Barker: The director general role is far more externally focused, working directly with our external stakeholders such as members, charities and Government, whilst the commercial director role is far more internally focused. Andrew Stevenson: As mentioned, Mandie developed a good relationship with all the members she had been

out to see and I think there is a lesson to be learned there. Communications surrounding that aspect of her tenure were extremely positive, so that is something I am keen to continue. It was also an important activity for getting the BHTA’s message across to members and getting the members’ thoughts and feedback back into the Association. It helped us understand where certain areas of the BHTA need development and introduced new ideas regarding activities, guidance or information that we need to focus on. Having that two-way communication between members, stakeholders and the Association is fundamental in my eyes for delivering that stability in the interim period. It means members know there is a voice they can talk to and a voice that will be asking questions of them. Andrew Barker: From a commercial perspective the BHTA has three business areas it needs to focus on. The Trades Association itself, BHTA Engage, as well as the National Federation of Shopmobility, with each area requiring development and support to achieve growth. That growth is essential for providing the BHTA with the resources required to deliver more to our members and the industry. Also, it is about looking at how we can improve member services, learning more about what our extensive range of members need and expect from us. I am also interested in not only looking at how we operate as an Association today but also what we need to put in place in terms of process, systems and infrastructure to ensure the Association is best placed to carry on delivering into the future. What do you both see as being the BHTA’s role in the industry? Andrew Barker: To continue being the voice for the wide range of members’ needs in the industry, representing members at various levels. Andrew Stevenson: Agreed. It is about strengthening what I call ‘the conduit.’ The BHTA sits at the centre

of receiving information from a range of areas including the Government, the NHS, public sector bodies, charities and more, and translates this into the distinct requirements for members, be it the small retailer or large, multinational manufacturers. The same works vice-versa, relaying information from our membership to these parties. That is the BHTA’s strength as it has access to the members that are implementing policies and regulations, as well as access to the policymakers and decision makers to question the impact and effects of policies on our members. In terms of policymakers, they prefer hearing one voice, rather than five hundred voices, so consolidated messages through the Association have more impact and additionally, it means members’ voices are amplified. Also, having gained great exposure over the last 12-months to the community and voluntary sector, particularly in respect to the expectations at local and national government level for CVS to support independent living and those with disabilities, I think there is a great opportunity for the BHTA to take a more active role in this sector. How do you envisage the BHTA working closer in the community and voluntary sector? Andrew Stevenson: There is a growing trend for organisations in the community and voluntary sector to fund a lot of its own operations, rather than receiving funding from Government. There is a significant opportunity in the BHTA to create a new Community and Voluntary Sector section, linking organisations from that area with all that our member companies do in regards to products and services. Helping to facilitate more working collaborations of that nature would be a very worthwhile endeavour for the Association I believe.

to ignore the elephant in the room, Brexit. As a country, we are going to have a completely different set of trading rules and regulations for importing and exporting products come March. A large majority of our members trade overseas, therefore as an Association, we need to be prepared to help members manage any challenges that may arise surrounding it. Again, that largely comes down to the dissemination of information and guidance to help members navigate those waters come April. Relaying any issues faced by our

Mandie Lavin steps down from Director General role Citing a change in personal circumstances, Mandie Lavin stepped down as director general of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) on the 9th November, less than six months on from her appointment. Alastair Maxwell, Chairman of the BHTA, thanked Mandie, a practising barrister and qualified nurse, for her efforts during her time in the role. Appointed in June, Mandie led the Association following the departure of Tracey White, the former director general who went on to become the CEO for the Institute of Lighting Professionals, in March.

What will be some of the key challenges facing BHTA members over the coming six months? Andrew Stevenson: It is impossible | 57

meet... members to the right places and ensuring action is taken is equally important, as Brexit will fundamentally change the way this country does business and as a Trade Association, we have a responsibility to ensure we are there to support our members. Is there a need to raise public awareness of the BHTA amongst consumers? Andrew Barker: Certainly. There is a need to increase public awareness of the type of products available that our members manufacture and sell, such as those geared to helping an ageing population lead more independent lives, as well as a need to make people more aware of buying from accredited retailers. There needs to be better signposting and strengthening of the BHTA brand and its relevance and importance to consumers and the wider market. I especially want to support our retailer members more and to do this, we need to strengthen our brand and awareness of the Code of Practice and what it means for the consumer. This is not necessarily something we can achieve by ourselves however, as it is a task that requires a

substantial amount of resources and budget that we realistically do not have. So, we will look to collaborate and work with other partners in the industry in building relationships so that we can expand our voice. Where do you hope the BHTA to be at the end of your sixmonth interim roles? Andrew Stevenson: Strong and stable with a supporting team that is still delivering the services and support that the members need. In six months’ time, I think we are also going to find ourselves in a very different landscape than we find ourselves today. We need to be preparing over this interim period to ensure we are able to cope with that landscape once it has been clearly defined. We have a growing ageing population which is gathering pace every year and with that, inevitably, comes a growth in conditions resulting in people requiring more support, be it product or service. This means the activities of member companies are only going to increase as this continues and subsequently, so too will the activities and importance of the Association.

MORE ABOUT THE NEW INTERIM DIRECTOR GENERAL Entering the healthcare industry 16 years ago with Mangar International to develop its overseas business and later joining the company’s board as sales director, Andrew Stevenson has experience working in both international and domestic markets through direct channels and distribution networks. Leaving Mangar International in 2009 to join NRS Healthcare as the organisation’s sales director, Stevenson was responsible for its product sales division, consisting of thousands of independent living products. Staying with NRS Healthcare for eight years, he most recently headed up charity Deaf Direct, supporting the deaf and hard of hearing community in the Worcestershire, Herefordshire and Oxford area for 12-months. Alongside Stevenson’s SME, multinational and community voluntary sector experience, the new interim director general has been involved with the BHTA since 2007, holding positions including vice chair and chair of the Independent Living section. Additionally, Stevenson was appointed to the BHTA board in 2015 and was recently re-elected unanimously to the position in November 2018.

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We’ll need to be fit for purpose and, as Mr Barker touched on, that will mean a degree of reshaping the structure and services that the BHTA provides. Andrew Barker: Six-months will also take us to the end of our fiscal year, so ensuring the BHTA continues to deliver on its targets and KPIs is a key component, as well as putting the organisation on a strong footing for the next year to be able to deliver on the vision we have set ourselves. This includes looking ahead to new revenue opportunities that allow us to invest in delivering more for our members to help bring about real change and development in the industry.

MORE ABOUT THE NEW INTERIM COMMERCIAL DIRECTOR Following a 13-year period in the automotive industry, working in Germany, Asia and South America, Andrew Barker joined the healthcare industry in 2005 as general manager and later that year as managing director of Mangar International. Taking the company from a traditional local family company to a major player in the sector, Barker bought into Mangar before the family sold out, leading to a management buy-out backed by private equity. Leaving the company in 2016, the new interim commercial director has been on the BHTA board for six years, holding the position of interim director general from March to June in 2018 following the departure of Tracey White.


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recruitment Trade Telesales Manager – EU & ROW Leeds, United Kingdom • Salary between 40-47k plus OTE Responsible for: • Lead Management • New Business • Supporting Country Leaders

Main purpose of the role: • Exceed pre-agreed departmental turnover budget performance levels • Manage lead distribution to dealers ensuring appropriate conversion KPI and sales results are achieved • Create key account relationships with new dealers through proactive prospect management • Develop and nurture existing dealer relationships in order to exceed specific sales targets • Lead in the strategic development of the Telesales Team, ensuring delivery of best in class service & support through innovate thinking and continuous improvement

Key responsibilities include, but will not be limited to: • Convert new and existing stairlift leads into qualified enquiries for dealers • Ensure all qualified enquiries are outsourced to the most appropriate dealer • Listen to, and effectively manage, internal and external customer queries and expectations • Maintain robust records and reports of all team contact and results • Exceed pre-agreed sales and conversion targets • Maintain the highest level of professionalism at every point of contact • Ensure all team tasks are completed in full and on time • Ensure the ongoing development of the prospect pipeline • Develop and develop the ethos of the XCEL sales program • Establish, maintain and promote positive interpersonal relationships with all colleagues • Ensure the achievement of all departmental objectives • Work proactively with other teams to optimise sales routes, pipelines and workloads as required • Remain flexible in assisting/leading with other projects/roles as required

Deliver technical support across the organisation in support of organisational objectives Ensure all and all product upgrades are successfully communicated and implemented to relevant territories Manage dealer/partner expectations and ensure any queries or issues are addressed in full and on time, using a root cause fault finding system to avoid repeat occurrence of avoidable issues Undertake any training as identified by the company

Key interactions • New business acquisition • Business development • Sales • Customer service Person specification • Experienced sales leader and people manager who has managed teams • Proven track record of delivering dealer/partner company success • Proven track record of exceeding sales budgets • A passion for continuous improvement • Experience of having worked in B2B (Business to Business) and B2C (Business to Customer) sales environments • Experience of having worked within international multi-cultural companies • Excellent interpersonal, communication, negotiation and problem solving skills • Experienced in project management and ability to lead and drive to outcomes in a collaborative environment • Good judgement and decision making skills • Strong time management and prioritisation skills • Ability to think strategically yet balanced with a ‘hands-on’ approach CV to

Nationwide • Full-time • Salary: Negotiable

Founded in 2014, Spring Chicken has grown rapidly, developing an online Facebook community of over 270k followers and 70k email subscribers, who enjoy Spring Chicken humour and entertainment! Spring Chicken’s online store sells a variety of assistive aids and gadgets to support the challenges of daily living for those with conditions or those getting older, including high-value mobility products, such as powerchairs, riser/recline chairs, adjustable beds and more. Joining Spring Chicken gives you the opportunity to be a part of a fast-growing business, where no single day will be the same. As a start-up the role will be varied and at times you may be asked to support in other areas of the business, too!

What we’re looking for We’re looking for an ambitious, driven and personable Home Demonstrator to join our growing team. The primary responsibility of the Home Demonstrator will be to demonstrate our high value mobility products such as powerchairs, scooters, chairs and beds to our customers in their home. Our customers may be elderly or have a disability, so it is also the responsibility of the Home Demonstrator to assist them with finding the right solution for their needs. The right candidate will have a confident manner, be focussed on finding the best solution for our customers and be able

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Highly Competitive Package Covering the North of England and Scotland This is an excellent opportunity to join one of Europe’s leading manufacturers of equipment used in Care and Nursing Homes. The existing product range includes baths, mobile and fixed hoisting systems, shower and wet rooms as well maintenance contracts. Reporting to the Divisional Sales Director, the Sales Manager will be prospecting for new business opportunities utilising his/her contacts, as well as following up existing business. The Care Homes Sales Manager will actively develop relationships and new business opportunities as well as follow up and manage existing leads and customers. Focusing on the expanding Care and Nursing Homes sector they will be selling products from the range including baths, mobile and fixed hoisting systems, shower and wet rooms as well maintenance contracts. The role is based in the North of the UK, is all about pitching to key decision makers and you will need to be prepared to build a strong client base to maximise revenue.

Nursing Home industry, with a proven track record of consistently exceeding targets. The ideal candidate will have a clear drive for success with a hunger for new business, uphold excellent communication skills and good telephone etiquette. You will be an incredibly motivated self-starter, and customer focused - it is vital to building lasting relationships with your customers to retain business and to maximise revenue opportunities. This is your chance to take control of your career and move into an exciting and growing company. There is an excellent chance for career development if successful, as well as fantastic working conditions and the opportunity for an additional bonus depending on team performance. If this sounds like the role for you and you want the opportunity to advance your career with a company that promotes from within, please apply now –

The Sales Manager will ideally have experience selling products and service contract elements within the Care and

Home Demonstrator Based in Oxford, Spring Chicken is a young, exciting start-up with the aim of making life easier and brighter for the ageing population and those with specific conditions such as Arthritis, Parkinson’s, Dementia and more.


to effectively communicate with a diverse range of people.

Responsibilities • Demonstrating high value mobility products • Reporting on demonstrations (e.g. was the right solution found?) • Assisting the Sales & Marketing team as required • Candidates should possess the following • Excellent written and verbal communication skills • Strong interpersonal skills and a “Can do”/ hands-on attitude • A desire to do things the right way and support our customers to the best of your ability • A full, clean driving licence

Your development As part of an exciting and developing business, there are significant opportunities for you to progress with the business. You will learn the grass-roots of customer contact, in order to build your knowledge and understanding of the marketing and sales process. The successful candidate will be joining the team during a significant time of growth for the company and flexibility, adaptability, initiative and teamwork are key to the role.

Check the ‘Jobs On Offer’ section of the website for more opportunities Take a look at the recently added positions Regional Product Specialist Contracts/Bid Writer Manager Operations Manager Area Sales Manager Product Specialists

To apply, please send your CV and Cover Letter to Jason Littlefield at:

trusted recruiter Business Development Manager South East - £25k to £35k (£40k- £55k OTE uncapped)

An excellent package including salary of between £32k, uncapped commission of 2% paid on all sales plus a bonus. VW Transporter, phone, tablet, company credit card, pension, 33 days holiday.

Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Surrey, Kent, Essex, Sussex, Hampshire and London

Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trusted including job reference 486 to discuss further.

Our client is a UK based manufacturer and supplier of pressure care products, working with the NHS, CES, dealers and end users across the UK. Currently undergoing growth of the business. Due to continued growth they are seeking a business development manager to increase the revenue and business in the South East. You will be selling the range of pressure care mattresses for both adults and paediatrics. This will involve targeting new and existing Loan Stores, CES, Distributors and the NHS. Primarily based from home with one day for admin and the around 4-5 visits per day on remaining days. You will ideally come from a background in pressure care mattresses/beds or moving and handling equipment. Alternatively, those with experience of having sold other products into loan stores and community equipment services will be considered. Base salary of between £25k to £35k depending on experience £40k- £55k OTE uncapped. Company car or car allowance, phone, laptop, pension. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to antony@trusted including job reference 487 to discuss further.

Area Sales Manager North East and Scotland – £32k (uncapped commission of 2% on all sales + bonus) Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and up to central Scotland Our client is a leading manufacturer and distributor of patient handling equipment having been in business for over 40 years. Their products include hoists, slings, manual transfer products and other disability aids. Due to continued growth, they are now seeking an Area Sales Manager to sell their range of patient handling equipment into community, schools and acute sectors. This will also involve carrying out product training and demonstrations with healthcare professionals both paediatric and adult. Looking to grow the territory and locate new contacts. This is a great opportunity to work for one of the fastest growing companies in the sector, who offer excellent rewards for good achievement. Ideally, candidates will have experience of having sold into the community. Those with patient handling equipment experience is no essential but will be advantageous. The candidate can be situated in either the North East or Scotland and willing to travel the above territory. A lock up for demo equipment will be given.

0333 0144 014

Marketing Executive Buckinghamshire - £25k to £35k A well- established mobility supplier of high-quality seating and wheelchair products direct to the end user. With over 30 years in business and continuous growth. As a marketing executive you will be responsible for all aspects of the company marketing some of the duties include managing the company website, social media, exhibitions, mail shots and sales enquiries via website. This is a great opportunity to play a part in the growth of the companies’ online presence as this is fast becoming a major part of the business success. Monday to Friday 9am-5:30pm. Must have a good level of marketing experience ideally targeting the end user or retail space. Those with a background of marketing healthcare or mobility related products are highly advantageous but not essential as training can be given on the products. The candidate must be within commutable distance to Aylesbury. Salary of between £25k to £35k depending on experience, pension, life insurance, 23 days holiday plus bank holidays. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trusted including job reference 485 to discuss further.

Product Specialist West London, Surrey and Sussex - £35k basic (plus commission) Our client a large, highly recognised manufacturer and supplier of mobility and rehabilitation products for both paediatric and adult market. With over 50 years in business and with continuous growth and internal promotions. As a product specialist you will be responsible for working closely with occupational therapists and physiotherapists to carry out assessments and demonstrations of their seating and standing aid products. Going to schools, hospitals, care homes, local authorities and the end user. The ideal candidate will come from a background of having worked with seating and standing aids or other rehab equipment. Occupational therapy, sports therapy, physiotherapy candidates will be highly considered. Those from other mobility/rehab related backgrounds will be considered. Salary being offered is £35k plus commission, company van, pro rota holiday. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trusted including job reference 484 to discuss further.

diary dates December 5, 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Southampton or call Sally on 02921 900402 January 28–31, 2019 Arab Health - Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre February 6, 2019 Hallmark Hotel, Chester - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 March 14, 2019 QEF Kids Equipment Open Day - QEF Mobility Services, Carshalton March 21, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry March 26 & 27, 2019 Naidex – NEC March 29 – 30, 2019 Living Limitless - Sandown Park, Surrey April 17-18, 2019 Medtrade Spring - Las Vegas April 24, 2019 Weetwood Hall, Leeds - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 April 31, 2019 Imperial Hotel, Torquay - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 May 15-16, 2019 Med-Tech Innovation Expo 2019 – NEC, Birmingham May 16, 2019 Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre June 12, 2019 Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402

Training Diary If you are providing training for the trade, then simply send us the details of the course, the date, any costs, the venue and the contact for booking places and we’ll include it in the Diary. Email with any details you have.

December Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) – 5th December 2018 - Hilton Hotel Ageas Bowl, Southampton – FOC SimpleStuff Works - Measure, Position and Protect – 5th December 2018 – Hilton Hotel Ageas Bowl, Southampton – FOC

January R82 - Seating Assessment Training (SAT) – 30th January Halesowen, West Midlands - FOC QEF - Accessible Aviation: in the cabin with disabilities – 10th January – Leeds - £114


June 17-18, 2019 COT Annual Conference – ICC Birmingham

Electric Mobility – Engineer training for Electric Mobility retailers – 13th February - Ilminster, Somerset – FOC (only available for Electric Mobility retailers)

June 26 - 27, 2019 Health+Care – Excel London


July 4, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West - Bristol

Jiraffe - Training for Life – Sleeping, Standing and Mobility Course – 6th March - Sheffield – FOC

July 10, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Reading - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402

Jiraffe - Training for Life – Seating and Toileting Course – 13th March - Sheffield – FOC

July 15 - 17, 2019 Posture & Mobility Group Conference Telford International Centre, Shropshire


July 14, 2019 – 28th Disability Awareness Day annual event Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington

Electric Mobility – Engineer training for Electric Mobility retailers – 10th April - Ilminster, Somerset – FOC (only available for Electric Mobility retailers)

September 11, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Southampton – OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402

Contacts for bookings

September 18-21, 2019 Rehacare – Dusseldorf

Electric Mobility – Call Rebecca Bateson on 01460 258158 or email

October 6-7, 2019 Trade Days – NEC

Careflex – Call Julieanne Fewings on 01626 831 843 or email

October 9-10, 2019 The Care & Dementia Show – NEC October 22, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Newcastle - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 November 6, 2019 The Spa Hotel, Kent - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 December 4, 2019 St David’s Hotel, Cardiff - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402

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Jiraffe – call +44 (0)114 285 3376 or email marketing@ Simple Stuff Works - Contact Simone McCarthy at or call 01827 307870 QEF – Contact Marion D’Moirah on 0208 770 1151 or R82 - Tel: +44 (0)121 561 2222 or email:


The new VIP 2 is the updated version of the VIP series of folding tilt in space wheelchairs, building on many years of experience of design and development. As well as 35 degree tilt it now has either fixed or adjustable recline.








It also now comes with an improved headrest design and a deeper seat.


a 35° Tilt-in-Space

a 30° Anti-Sliding Recline

a Foldable and Durable

Tilt-in-space system further enables attendant to tilt the chair up to 35 degrees, allowing user to change to the most comfortable position helping to reduce the potential of developing pressure ulcers.

Sliding has always been one of the greatest concerns for people in a standard reclining chair. The VIP2 solves this problem by locating the reclining pivot point of the chair close to the human hip joint, which synchronizes the motion of the body and the chair.

The VIP 2 is light and folds fitting easily into a car boot. The lateral push-bar strengthens the durability of this foldable chair and makes it easier to push the chair.



The new TGA VITA E Affordable stylish comfort

Call to find out more 01787 882 244 or email THS261118

Team of the year

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985

Profile for THIIS

THIIS December 2018  

'Tis the season... the innovate. This month's issue looks at some of the latest innovations in the world of the mobility trade, including a...

THIIS December 2018  

'Tis the season... the innovate. This month's issue looks at some of the latest innovations in the world of the mobility trade, including a...

Profile for thiis