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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 231 • December 2017

THIIS

Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Issue 231 December 2017

TRADE MAGAZINE

Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Opportunity comes knocking How one article led to two shops and a new name MORE ABOUT...

RETAILER SPOTLIGHT:

Blanken Care

Aid and Enable

also inside... PRODUCT SHOWCASE: STAIRLIFTS, HOME LIFTS & ACCESS


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welcome

…from the editor December is here, bringing with it an end to an eventful 2017 and also the end of my first year as editor of THIIS magazine.

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

F

or some retailers, the year ended the way it began, such as Clearwell Mobility. At the beginning of the 2017, the company opened its store in Hastings and to close the year, the retailer opened its 12th store in Crawley. This stands in stark contrast to another retailer, The Unlimited Company, that started the year opening its Bicester store but ended it by announcing the closure of its operations. There have also been a number of mergers and acquisitions that have taken place over 2017 - the most noteworthy being the acquisition of Sidhil by Drive DeVilbiss in January – suggesting that there may be more consolidation to come in 2018. What I have seen this year is a lot more attention being given to the mobility market from large, national retailers and also business services. In this issue, we highlight a recent whitepaper focussing purely on the mobility sector created by a marketing agency that specialises in the mature market. With the mobility market expected to grow, it is likely that more players will seek to become involved in the industry. One sector that seems to be showing significant growth is stairlifts and home lifts, so THIIS has taken an in-depth look into the market, investigating why so many manufacturers are reporting global and domestic success, as well as evaluating how effective their efforts have been in wooing retailers. December’s Retailer Spotlight may seem familiar to many readers as well, with Aid and Enable’s Sarah Boys appearing in our June issue. The Irish retailer explains how appearing on the front cover of THIIS changed the future of her business, resulting in the new retailer managing two stores under a new name. To all readers, thank you for your support and I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.​

Calvin Barnett Editor

TRADE MAGAZINE

THIIS is produced by BHTA Engage, 2-4 Meadow Close, Ise Valley Industrial Estate, Wellingborough, NN8 4BH • 01933 278 086 • newsroom@thiis.co.uk 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.

Editor Calvin Barnett 01933 278086 newsroom@thiis.co.uk

Advertising Enquiries Greg Askew 01933 272437 advertising@thiis.co.uk

A very merry Christmas and prosperous New Ye ar from the THIIS team! You can find THIIS on Twitter at: wwwthiiscouk

INSURANCE & FINANCE A helping hand when you need it most.

Call us today 01582 840067 www.thiis.co.uk | 3


contents

42 Stairlift and home lift market review special

Features 16 Entrepreneur turns desperation into inspiration 56 Product Showcase – Stairlifts, home lifts & access 66 Six months, two new stores, one new name

52 Clearwell in Crawley

Regulars 14

Deal On!

16

More about…

22

Round Up

30

OT’s perspective

34

New to the team

66

Retailer spotlight

6 Change Mobility MBO

Understanding the mobility market 2017 in partnership with

72

Recruitment

74

Training Diary

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62 NHS bed decline

24 Mobility market wisdom


BIG PLANS FOR CHANGE MOBILITY Harrogate-based retailer Change Mobility and its parent company Beaucare Medical has completed a successful management buy-out, with the new management team planning to expand both companies.

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ounded in 1992 by Jonathan Brown, who initially sold products door-to-door and used his garage as a warehouse, Beaucare Medical is now one of the largest independent providers of care home suppliers across the UK. The MBO team includes Heather Mawrey, newly appointed as Managing Director, who has been with Beaucare for 11 years, as well as Joseph Storr, the firm’s new Commercial Finance Director. Jonathan Brown, Beaucare’s founder, will continue to play an active role, moving to the new position of Chairman in the organisation. Situated in the heart of Harrogate in a purpose-built showroom, Change Mobility, a subsidiary Beaucare, sells an extensive range of mobility products including wheelchairs, hoists, powerchairs, mobility scooters, care beds, rise and recliners, continence products and more.

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New MD Heather Mawrey told THIIS about what the team has in mind for the group’s retail operations. “We are looking forward to expanding the network of retail units in the future, working with communities to inform them of the huge array of quality living aids and bespoke mobility products that Change Mobility offer. We have made some incredible partnerships along the way, which are opening doors to new ventures,” explained Heather. Having achieved double-digit growth over the past two years by targeting markets in the South West and the South East, Beaucare Medical plans to continue building on its

success by investing for growth. The company plans to recruit 12 more engineers, increase its fleet size and potentially build a second site in the Midlands. Discussing expansion plans for Beaucare, Heather added: “Plans for expansion of our distribution network are key as we uphold our high-level of customer service. Our product support and servicing division continue to grow, and maintaining our long-standing relationships with customers will continue to be vitally important to us.” www.changemobility.com www.beaucare.com

“We are looking forward to expanding the network of retail units in the future” HEATHER MAWREY


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round-up

Mountain Trike expands into New Zealand

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ountain Trike continues to build its worldwide distributor network with a new distributor in New Zealand. Ran by husband and wife team Greg and Kirsty Dodunski from their premises in Morrinsville, located on the North Island in New Zealand, Total Rehab Plus specialises in occupational therapy and rehabilitation.

Greg said: “We know that Mountain Trike will be very well received here in New Zealand - we are renowned for our fantastic outdoor activities and the Mountain Trike products will fit right in and enable users to enjoy their freedom and independence once again.” “There is so much potential and we have lots of exciting things planned for

the coming months - we are working on our 2018 trade show calendar across New Zealand, where we’ll be demoing the Mountain Trike to potential customers. We already have bookings for demonstrations - so lots going!” www.mountaintrike.com

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Steve Hoskins runs Mobility World Southport with wife Jennie and daughter Sophie

SECOND CHANCE OR NO CHANCE? The hiring of twice convicted fraudster Paul Frossell by retailer Mobility World Southport sparked controversy amongst local residents and led many retailers to consider whether second chances can be permitted in the industry.

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riginally jailed in 2013 after conning an elderly couple he had sold a mobility scooter to out of almost £5000, Paul Frossell went on to work for Mobility World Southport before leaving to set up his own company in 2015. By early 2016 however, he was discovered trying to again con an elderly individual. Speaking to Steve Hoskins, Managing Director of Mobility World Southport, he told THIIS: “He worked for us a couple of years ago as a Sales Advisor and subsequently left our employ to set up his own business which he called Scooter Man Paul.”

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Operating as Scooter Man Paul, Frossell was buying used scooters from eBay and then selling them on to ex-Mobility World customers whose details he had recorded during his time with Mobility World Southport. “Paul would cold call people, asking if they were ready to get rid of then

new scooter they had purchased from us and if they wanted to buy a different one from himself,” added Steve. Frossell was discovered trying to con an elderly customer who had purchased a mobility scooter from Mobility World Southport in April 2015 for almost £3,000.

“We had hoped we could teach him the correct way to operate in the industry, especially as he has knowledge of the scooters and how to repair them.” STEVE HOSKINS


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He contacted the 98-year-old woman on Easter Sunday in 2016, allegedly informing her that there had been a recall regarding her scooter and that he would have to take it away for checks. Having held onto his Mobility World Southport ID and lanyard, Frossell was accused of giving the customer the impression he was from Mobility World Southport when he collected her vehicle. After taking away the mobility scooter, Frossell offered her an alternative, third-hand mobility scooter which he had purchased online, putting a substantial mark-up on the replacement scooter and using false documentation to convince the OAP of the vehicle’s service history. “In particular, he used an invoice he had wrote out in his deceased mother’s name and explained that she had been the previous owner, showing a bill for service and repair works carried out of almost £2,000,” commented Steve. Suspicious, the customer and a friend contacted the manufacturer of her original scooter to enquire about the recall and discovered that no such recall had been issued. The pair contacted Frossell, informing him that they were interested in purchasing his alternative scooter and when he arrived, the police were called. Frossell denied in court that he had said he was from Mobility World and saying that the machine was subject of a manufacturer’s recall, but was found guilty and lost an appeal in 2017, being given another 12-month prison sentence. After being released having served three-months out of his 12-month sentence, Frossell went back to Mobility World Southport in search of employment. Steve said: “He came back to us and said he would like to get back into the industry. He felt he had paid the price for his actions and said this this is the only industry he knew and that he had been working in it all his life.” The Mobility World Southport MD explained that Frossell had enjoyed

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a good life whilst working for the company and had always been honourable whilst under their employ, however things went astray when he couldn’t manage the financial pressures after setting up on his own. “He asked if he could have some work, working on mobility scooters, so we gave him a job in the workshop and working in the van,” said Steve. “Importantly, we made sure he had no interaction with customers, only the trade, picking up scooters from suppliers, as well as fixing up partexchange scooters.” Steve agreed to provide Frossell with two days a week, part-time employment, however, having only worked for two days, Frossell was recognised by someone in the shop and reported to the newspapers. “We took the decision to the let him go once the papers picked it up as we did not want the adverse publicity it could stir up,” confirmed Steve. “We did feel sorry for him and felt he had paid for his crime. He had been found guilty and done his time and we made sure he wasn’t going to be

Paul Frossell

thought we should try and help a fellow human being who had hit rock bottom through his actions and I felt, had learned his lesson,” finished Steve.

“Importantly, we thought we should try and help a fellow human being who had hit rock bottom through his actions” STEVE HOSKINS

put at risk of dealing with vulnerable, elderly people in the capacity we had him working in. “We thought it would be a positive step towards his rehabilitation, so we spoke to his probation officer who said they were happy for him to have part-time work with us in the capacity we stipulated.” The company has now confirmed it has terminated the agreement it had in place with Paul Frossell and will not hire him to undertake work in any capacity. “We had hoped we could teach him the correct way to operate in the industry, especially as he has knowledge of the scooters and how to repair them. Importantly, we

The story raises an interesting question regarding the desire to provide people with a second chance in an industry that works with often vulnerable individuals, as well as the impact that potentially controversial business decisions can have on companies that heavily rely on reputation in a world where news travels fast. www.mobilityworldsouthport.co.uk


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trade deals

DealON! 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 30th 2017 unless otherwise stated.

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Free Haze smart charger... ...with your first order of four or more batteries (18Ah and bigger) Please call Easystart on 01536 203030 or email sales@easystartbatteries.co.uk for more information

Van Os Medical GlobeTraveller All new to the Van Os Medical lightweight wheelchair range is the GlobeTraveller, available in both self-propel and transit with an incredible launch Special Offer of just £79.00 for transit and £110.00 for self-propel. Call today on 01977 681400 to liven up your showroom this Autumn

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 / gino.farruggio@stiltz.co.uk

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MORE ABOUT‌

SNUGGLEBLANKS AND BLANKEN CARE: INSPIRATION FROM DESPERATION When Vicky Blanken first began sewing together various materials, she was only desperately trying to find a continence solution that could meet the needs of her daughter. Never would she have imagined it would lead to her flying around the world to source materials, negotiating distribution with dealers and changing people’s lives. The unexpected entrepreneur shared her trade hopes and dreams for her custom-sized, reusable incontinence brands with THIIS. WHAT LED TO YOU DECIDING TO LAUNCH THE SNUGGLEBLANKS AND BLANKEN CARE BRAND OF INCONTINENCE PRODUCTS? It all started back in 2011. I have three children aged eight, seven and two. My oldest daughter is on the autism

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spectrum and quite a big girl, so she quickly outgrew every nappy going that I could get hold of, including disposables. I contacted one of the companies we used at the time and asked them if they could make a bigger nappy but most companies just said the demand was not there so I

thought I would make one myself. At first, I started off with tearing, cutting and sewing various old cot sheets, jeans and t-shirts, experimenting with various materials until I came up with something that worked. That was the first Snuggleblank.


Simply all I did after that was post it onto Facebook. There are communities online of mums with similar needs and immediately people commented, saying that it was great and more importantly, if I could make one for their children. That is when the idea came that this could be a business and it really has just grown very organically from there. I did try to get back into what you would call a ‘proper job’, using my qualifications in German and Russian to take on a German-speaking sales role. What I found however was that there would be requests from people regarding my continence invention waiting for me we I got home. Eventually, I had to ask myself; ‘what am I doing?’ The customers and the need were there, so I decided to make a go out of it. Simultaneously however, my third child came along so it put the brakes on it. Now that he has turned two and is a bit more independent, I am able to devote more time and energy into the business and really push it forward. HOW HAS THE COMPANY DEVELOPED OVER THE YEARS? Since we started back in 2011, there have been so many people who have come to me with a number of different needs. This has helped us to refine the product. Also, seeing the changing needs of my own children has given me a lot of fresh ideas - my little one will happily drink about two litres of milk a night so finding something absorbent became essential! WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES OF YOUR INCONTINENCE WEAR OVER OTHER BRANDS? I think there are quite a few advantages to our range over our competitors. Probably the main benefit is the fact there aren’t many other reusable brands out there and the ones that are tend to focus a lot on synthetic fabric. In our range, we use natural, restructured fibres. Our product uses cloth, which people immediately

associate with the big, old-fashioned Terry’s Square, but it is nothing like that. We’ve used bamboo, which is naturally anti-bacterial and renewable, as well cotton which is just so absorbent. When you combine them all together, it makes for a really effective product; my most popular nappies are capable of holding up to two to three litres at a time. It’s not just the effectiveness of the products that I think really sets us apart however, it’s the fact that they are soft, comfortable and save user’s money… what’s not to like. Importantly, there are significant environmental benefits for using our products as well. I did some calculations the other week, based on the idea that an average adult with continence issues was prescribed five pads a day. At those numbers, a year’s worth of waste stacked up would be as high as Nelson’s Column! The standard life of one of our reusable nappies is two to two and half years. So, the fact that ours use sustainable materials that are environmentally friendly is a big thing for us.

WHERE DO THE PRODUCTS STAND IN RESPECT TO THE CLINICAL ASPECTS? I’ve discussed it with various people who work in this area and they have said to wash the items up to 70 degrees, which our products can easily withstand. Modern washing machines have really helped because the products can be washed and dried in no time at all. CAN YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT HOW YOUR CONTINENCE PRODUCTS ARE MANUFACTURED AND DISTRIBUTED CURRENTLY? Our products are produced by me at the moment, however, I am currently in the process of sourcing manufacturers so we can ensure we can meet demand of customers and distributors. We would love to produce the entire range in the UK but we also need to ensure that we can keep costs competitive and as a new company, finance is tight. Our aim is to ensure that at least some aspects of manufacturing always takes place in the UK though, in particular,

“I’ve been busy operating from my conservatory in deepest, darkest Lancashire and now we are ready to expand” VICKY BLANKEN

Snuggleblanks range

www.thiis.co.uk | 17


adjustments will be made here. The reason I started the company is because not everyone is the same size, so we are happy to offer an adjustment service for our products; something no one else currently does. In terms of how we sell, this is mainly online, with Facebook being key for us. It has been great for raising awareness and it seems I am always getting tagged with messages saying ‘go and see Vicky at Snuggleblanks or Blanken Care.’ What we really want is to work with and through more distributors and retailers who have the reach to get the products to the people who need them.

the point where we need to be able to produce in bulk and that requires a certain amount of investment.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO WORK WITH RETAILERS, WHY DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD THEY SELL YOUR PRODUCTS? From the online communities that we have built and interact with, I know distributors and retailers will certainly have customers who will really benefit from our products. I’ve been busy operating from my conservatory in deepest, darkest Lancashire and now we are ready to expand. We are open to all comers, both domestically and internationally. I get a lot of requests and queries from Austria and Germany, as well as the US and South Africa so we know the market is out there.

CONTINENCE IS OFTEN SEEN AS A HUSHED TOPIC; DO YOU FIND IT IS SOMETHING PEOPLE STRUGGLE TO TALK ABOUT IT AND DO YOU THINK THIS WILL CHANGE IN THE FUTURE? Certainly it is a topic people are embarrassed to talk about but also, I would say that there seems to be progressively less of a stigma around the subject today. Undoubtedly more needs to be done to get rid of the idea of it being a hushed topic at all but the fact that people feel freer to have a conversation about it is positive. I think more needs to be done to educate that it is a medical issue and it is not uncommon. Unfortunately, I often get people who will contact us and tell me that it took them a while to pluck up the courage to call in to discuss their continence issues and after they have taken that step, they feel so much more reassured. So even though opinions are changing, there is still a way to go and

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED SINCE BEING IN BUSINESS? Juggling the family life with the commitments of the business is something I am getting used to, especially as the first year my child was born, he had breathing issues and was in hospital a lot. Fortunately, that has all settled down now so I have the time and energy to really push this forward. Mainly though, it is finance. It comes in and goes straight back out again so I’ve decided to look at getting an investor or a partner onboard, as I think the additional support may be what the company needs to really reach its potential. We are getting to

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WHAT HAS BEEN ONE OF YOUR PROUDEST MOMENTS WHILST OPERATING THE BUSINESSES? When the first adult reviews started coming in, that is when I really started to realise the difference the products were having on the lives of people. When someone sends an email stating that they been struggling for 12 years and that thanks to my product, their life has been changed, it gives me the best feeling in the world. It really reminds me why doing this is worth all the stress. Founder Vicky Blanken

helping that cause is very important to us. WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE BLANKEN CARE AND SNUGGLEBLANKS? Someone once jokingly told me that in five-year’s time, I could be owning Tena. I say, why not? I want to be competing with the big boys, expanding globally and changing lives across the world. I’ve stuck with this because I’m passionate about the products and the subject and aiming to take this as big as possible, so why can’t we compete with the likes of Tena. If anyone is interested about the product or partnership, please get in touch. To get in touch with Vicky, contact 07976260508 or email: info@ blankencare.com www.snuggleblanks.co.uk www.blankencare.com

WHAT IS SNUGGLEBLANKS? Started in 2011, Snuggleblanks is range of reusable nappies, pull ups and swim nappies suitable for toddlers and older children WHAT IS BLANKEN CARE? Founded in 2015 to properly distinguish between the adult and child markets, Blanken Care is the bigger adult equivalent range of nappies, pull ups and swim nappies.


Merry d Christmas d

And A Prosperous New Year From All The Team At Able2

d

d

d

d For Further Information Visit www.able2.eu Or Please Contact Us: Head Office: Able2 UK Ltd. Moorgate Street, Blackburn, BB2 4PB Tel: 01254 619000 Email: enquiries@able2.eu Fax: 01254 619001


diary dates December 13 2017 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Sheraton Grand Hotel, Edinburgh www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 January 29 - 1 Feb 2018 Arab Health, Dubai www. arabhealthonline.com January 31st – February 1st 2018 Moving & Handling People, Watford www.movingandhandlingpeople.co.uk February 7 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) – The Queen Hotel, Chester www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 February 27-28 2017 Medtrade Spring - Las Vegas www. medtrade.com March 15 2018 Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry www. kidzexhibitions.co.uk April 25-26 2018 Naidex – NEC www.naidex.co.uk April 26 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Weetwood Hall Conference Centre, Leeds www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 May 17 2018 Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk June 11- 13 2018 COT Annual Conference - Belfast Waterfront www.cotannualconference.org.uk June 12-13 2018 NAEP Annual Conference – Kenilworth www.naep.org.uk June 13 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 June 27-28 2018 Health+Care – Excel London www. healthpluscare.co.uk 5th July 2018 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West – Bristol www. kidzexhibitions.co.uk July 11 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Stradey Park Hotel, Llanelli www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 July 23-25 Posture & Mobility Group Conference Manchester Central www.pmguk.co.uk September 12 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - La Mon Hotel, Belfast www.otac. org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 26 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Imperial Hotel, Torquay www.otac. org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 26-29 2018 Rehacare – Dusseldorf www. rehacare.com October 7-8 2018 Trade Days – NEC www.tradedays.co.uk October 15-17, 2018 Medtrade – Atlanta www.medtrade. com October 17-18 2018 The Care & Dementia Show – NEC www.caredementiashow.com November 7 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - The Spa Hotel, Kent www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 November 28 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Newcastle www. otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402 December 5 2018 OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) - Hilton Hotel, Southampton www.otac.org.uk or call Sally on 02921 900402

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BES Rehab raises funds for mail order division BES Rehab has raised a £100,000 loan on Crowd2Fund.com with plans to expand a new mail order division to better reach people living with dementia and learning difficulties.

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ES Rehab recently acquired mail order company and e-commerce platform Activities to Share this year, specialising in selling products to people who work with those living with dementia and learning difficulties. According to the company, Activities to Share provides a new route to market for BES, allowing them to reach families and their relatives directly as opposed selling indirectly to end-users through the NHS and local care homes. BES Rehab founder Greg Amos commented: “The funds raised will be directed towards helping families be aware of the options of tools and gifts for elderly relatives with the desire to connect with the younger generation while coping with the limitations dementia brings.” Awareness of the brand will now be built through social media, training conferences and direct mail. www.besrehab.net


round-up

LIGHTS, CAMERA AND ACTION FOR INVACARE Invacare has relaunched its Action range of wheelchairs with new upgrades and is turning to the power of video to help raise awareness amongst end-users.

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he newly designed Action 3NG and 4NG brings a more active feel, with a sleek new aesthetic according to the company. The chairs feature black front and rear wheels, new backrest upholstery and the choice of eight frame colours, as well as a weight reduction due to new, lightweight castor housing and lightweight rear wheels. A new marketing campaign called ‘By Day, By Night’ aims to engage

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customers through a number of films highlighting the exciting lifestyles their customers can enjoy with their wheelchair. Gustave Moot, Head of Product Management Mobility for EMEA, commented: “We hope the inspirational ‘By Day, By Night’ campaign, will be enjoyed by everyone for it’s fresh, modern and fun representations of modern day life.” The new campaign looks to build on

Invacare’s recent ‘Style is Forever’ marketing campaign success earlier in the year, which saw the manufacturer employ an effective, integrated approach to marketing across various channels. www.invacare.co.uk


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HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE MOBILITY MARKET? Insightful new research focusing solely on the mobility market has been released for free and is a must-read for retailers looking to reach new customers and manufacturers looking to build brand loyalty.

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alled ‘Understanding the Mobility Market’, the whitepaper takes an in-depth look at the UK mobility sector, assessing the buying behaviours of over-50s mobility equipment owners, as well as their thoughts and opinions concerning the way brands try to engage with them.

Understanding the mobility market 2017 in partnership with

The research examines the responses to almost 300 over-50s mobility product owners regarding topics including mobility products owned, key decision-makers identified in the buying process and key influences when choosing where to purchase and what to purchase. Commissioned by Accord - an integrated marketing agency specialising on the mature market - and developed in collaboration with Silver Travel Advisor, the whitepaper presents some fascinating results that may challenge ideas believed to be common knowledge amongst marketers and business leaders. David Johnson, Agency Director at Accord Marketing, told THIIS: “This white paper challenges preconceived notions about the mature of the market and is essential reading for business owners, marketing managers and digital strategists working within the mobility sector. “The findings are both interesting and thoughtprovoking. Whilst many marketers picture the over-50s as traditionally-minded, technologically illiterate and out-oftouch, nothing could be further from the truth.” Some key results from the research found the majority end-users were involved in the decision-making when making purchases and that customer service was more of a factor for returning to a shop over price and discounted offers, whilst word-of-mouth is still the most powerful factor in driving referrals. The dedicated research reinforces the growing interest in the mobility market, with predications that by 2033, the percentage of the UK population aged over-65 is expected to increase to 23% - over double what it was in 2008. Visit the website to download the full report. www.accordmarketing.com/ understanding-the-mobility-market


CHRISTMAS DRIVING YOU ROUND THE BEND? Let Christmas be on Handicare this year... You will qualify for gifts when you have approved your 5th curved order, which has been received and signed off between Friday 13th October and Thursday 14th December at 5pm. A further point will be awarded for every other new curved stairlift order, placed and signed off during this period. Complete and return your claim form to let us know how you would like to spend your points by 5pm on Friday 15th December*. You can choose any combination of gifts, so long as you have enough points to cover the total required. We will place your order and have your gifts delivered to one UK address of your choice. Don’t forget to be eligible for points all curved orders must be placed, signed off and confirmed by 5pm Thursday the 14th December 2017.

Prizes to be won!

IRGEEHT H H ST IG R VSOTURCEHEH H E T V I STOU GHER R CH

VO E UC ET HE R

Trade Partner Support: 0844 225 3121 tpsorders@handicare.co.uk * If orders are placed after 15th December we cannot guarantee delivery of your prizes before Christmas

www.handicare.co.uk


ON THE LOOKOUT… Drive DeVilbiss dealers urged to remain vigilant

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container filled with 81 Drive DeVilbiss Envoy 8mph mobility scooters was stolen from a secure container compound on the 14th November, when a lorry managed to sneak in, hook it up and drive off. The company now suspects the culprits may approach its dealer network in a bid to offload the stolen scooters and is urging all retailers in its network to report any suspicious activity relating to the scooters.

Details of the products to be on the lookout for: Envoy Red 21 Pieces. Serial numbers from VP174173 to VP174193 Envoy Blue 20 pieces. Serial numbers from VP174194 to VP174213 Envoy Silver 20 Pieces. Serial numbers from VP174214 to VP174233 Envoy White 20 Pieces. Serial Number from VP174234 to VP174253

EDEN MOBILITY PUTS UP REWARD FOR STOLEN VAN On the 27th October, a company van was stolen from Eden Mobility’s head office in Scunthorpe. The company has offered a £1000 reward for any information leading to a successful conviction of those involved. The van registration is FT13 AGV and also had a tracker installed, which the thieves managed to remove at the scene before stealing the vehicle, according to the company.

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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

From all of us at Pride Mobility ProductsÂŽ Ltd and Quantum Rehab

32 Wedgwood Road, Bicester, Oxon, OX26 4UL | Tel: 01869 324600 | Fax: 01869 323070 | Web: pride.mobility.co.uk | Email: sales@pride-mobility.co.uk

@pridemobilityuk


round-up

Ableworld Southport opens early December

34th Ableworld store to open in Southport

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bleworld, the largest mobility retailer in the UK, is growing at an alarming rate and plans to open their 34th store next month. Opening in Southport, the company says Head Office staff are presently ‘laying the groundwork’ in order to

make it as successful as all the others. The store will be the fifth launched by store owner Barry Pearson, who joined the Ableworld team in 2014 and has had great success in the St Helens, Wigan, Wavertree and Salford areas. He now hopes to provide the same

support and service to Southport. The doors will open on the new store at the beginning of December, with more details in the next issue. www.ableworld.co.uk

BAINBRIDGE MOBILITY CLOSES HARROGATE SHOWROOM

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ainbridge Mobility has taken the decision not to renew the lease of its Starbeck showroom in Harrogate, noting that whilst local trade in Harrogate and the surrounding areas increased, the store suffered from a lack of footfall. Having been operating in North Yorkshire for over 16 years, the Harrogate showroom was the retailers’ second store, opening three years ago in 2014. Located on a busy main road, Bainbridge Mobility highlighted in a statement that parking was an issue and something customers regularly commented on, however, maintains that moving into Harrogate was the right move and will look to move the showroom to a better location. www.bainbridgemobility.co.uk

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OT perspective

THE OT’S PERSPECTIVE

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN IT COMES TO ACCESS AT HOME AND THE PUBLIC ARENA When it comes to helping people with disabilities get around, the world has changed A LOT in the last few years.

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o longer can establishments get away with not catering for people with disabilities, and the sheer breadth of options available to make homes more disability friendly has rapidly increased in a very short space of time. This month, we’re discussing stairlifts, through-floor lifts and disabled access, and for sake of clarity, I’ve split our thoughts into considerations for a “home” environment and a public environment. LET’S FIRST CONSIDER THE FACTORS WE TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN HELPING CLIENTS IN A “HOME” CAPACITY As occupational therapists, we are often asked for help when it comes to the adaptations required for clients’ homes, and in order to help as best I can, I usually stick to this formula: 1. Consider the environment 2. Provide advice 3. After the client has considered the advice, provide the correct equipment When it gets slightly more complicated is if the requirements go beyond providing equipment, and relocating is not an option, adaptations will usually be needed at this point.

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And when it comes to installing a stairlift, through-floor lift or disabled access, one thing that is well worth considering is a Disabled Facilities Grant application. If adaptations are required, your customer may well be eligible for this grant, which allows for adaptations that: • Provide access to and from home • Make the home safe • Provide access to the living room • Provide access to the bedroom • Provide access to a room which has a toilet and wash hand basin • Provide access to a bath and or shower • Provide access to an area for preparation and cooking of a meal • Provide access to an area for making a hot drink • Provide access to adequate, heating, lighting and ventilation. • Provide access to a garden or make garden safe. How to decide which adaptations are necessary: Considering the above, map the entire home, starting from pavement

entrance or car park through to end of the rear garden if applicable and see what support the disabled person requires. Things for your Stuart Barrow customers to of Promoting Independence consider when applying for a grant: • There is a limit to the amount they can receive - £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and £25,000 in Northern Ireland. The grant is not applicable in Scotland • The grant application will be means-tested, which means both the household income and household savings will be considered in the application process • The grant may be rejected if the work on the property has started before the council has approved the application • In order to have an application approved, the local authority must deem the work “necessary and appropriate”, “reasonable and practicable” • A grant will only be approved


if a permanent resident within the home has a disability that is deemed permanent and substantial; but it does not need to be the resident with the disability who applies NOW LET’S CONSIDER ADAPTATIONS IN A MORE PUBLIC SETTING The Equality Act, passed in 2010 means that people and organisations who serve the public have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people. In practice, this means that we all have a duty to bear disabilities in mind when it comes to our establishments and how equipped they are for disabilities. Here are some key things to bear in mind: Disabilities are not always seen Don’t assume that someone is not disabled. It is vital to bear in mind

that “disability” is a wide spectrum, and just because someone isn’t in a wheelchair, it does not mean that they are not disabled. Consequently, we must all ensure that we cater for the disabilities that are harder to “see”. As an example, some disabilities can be “sensory” and can be triggered by light or noise, and the opposite is true too, with some disabled people having a “sensory deficit”, where too little stimulation is an issue, It’s also important to remember that disabilities – like mental health - can fluctuate, and your establishment must take this into account. Key things to also consider When you are ensuring that your establishment caters for the disabled, here are some key questions: • Can your customers access you? • How can you support local organisations with their access?

What can you offer / sell to your current and new clients to support them to support their staff / customers? I hope you’ve found this useful! If you’ve got any other questions, feel free to fire them over to stuart@ promoting-independence.co.uk

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).

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round-up

Pride Raptor

Pride Jazzy Zero Turn

NEW PRIDE PRODUCTS PROVE POPULAR WITH RETAILERS Two new mobility scooters from Pride, the Raptor and the Jazzy Zero Turn, have touched down in the UK for the first time and have proved popular amongst the company’s dealer network.

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he newly launched Raptor is an all-terrain, heavy-duty scooter featuring a 28 stone 5lbs weight capacity, a travel range of approximately 31-miles with one charge, an 8Mph motor, as well as front and rear suspension, under seat storage, LCD display and a sleek design.

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Offering users a 3-wheel turning radius combined in a 4 wheel package, the Jazzy Zero Turn sold out in a matter of weeks. The scooter uses Pride’s new, patent-pending Zero Turn technology, allowing for an impressive 38” turning radius so users are able to navigate tight corners and small spaces easily.

The scooter also has 21 Ah batteries, USB charging facilities, front and rear LED lights, under seat storage and comes available in sixcolours. www.pride-mobility.co.uk


2017 has certainly been a busy year for the team at AJ Way, not just because of our increased sales, driven in part by the growing popularity of our bespoke Chatsworth chair, but also the transition from Kirton Healthcare Group and activity to re-establish AJ Way as an independent company again. We are continuing to work hard to support our customers who can still order the chairs below, by the dates shown, for pre Christmas delivery which means they can give their customers a comfortable Christmas in front of the fire. Friday 8th December

Domestic and Healthcare Edition Wendovers Single TIS or Dual TIS actions and alternative back options. Wednesday 20th December

Domestic Spec. Wendovers in Terrazza Natural or Mocha fabric, Single TIS action and a Waterfall back. Healthcare Edition Wendovers in Cadet Etch Vinyl fabric with Blue Dartex seat wrap and back cushions. A choice of standard foam, Reflexion foam or Intelli-Gel removable seat wrap. Importantly, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our partners for their continued support during the year as we look forward to being able to reveal some exciting developments in 2018. We would also like to wish you all a “Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!�


new to the team

Care-ability invests develop new business nationally Independent patient lifting company and sling manufacturer Care-ability Healthcare is looking to expand Justin Mcbride in the North and the South following the appointment of two new business developments managers. Lee Daines will take on the role in the Midlands and South, whilst Justin Mcbride will focus on Scotland. Justin has been working in the healthcare sector for two decades, beginning as a technician in bed frame and pressure care areas before moving into technical sales. Lee Daines has 19 years’ experience in the patient moving and handling market and will focus on providing support and strategic development for the company’s Lee Daines dealer network concerning its manufactured patient lifting and moving and handling equipment range. David Tilly, Director of Care-ability, commented: “These appointments are fantastic news for our future growth ambitions and raising the profile of Careability Healthcare on a national level. Both Justin and Lee bring many years of experience to our team in some sectors that we are not currently involved in.” To contact Justin, call 07436 037026 or email justin@care-ability.co.uk To contact Lee, call 07841 459801 or email lee@care-ability.co.uk www.care-ability.co.uk

NEW OPERATIONS MANAGER FOR BETTER MOBILITY Hertfordshire-based retailer Better Mobility has promoted Office Manager Natasha Waner-Mizon to the role of Operations Manager, as the company continues to expand its operations. Having worked in the visual merchandise departments of renowned retailers including Harrods, Karen Millen and Tesco, Natasha decided she needed a change from a cold, corporate culture, joining the family business in 2015. Originally lending her services on a temporary basis to help the busy office staff keep up with sales, she increasingly took on more responsibility, eventually becoming Office Manager. As Better Mobility continued to grow, so too did the need for someone to oversee the daily operations of the company and be a liaison between the sales, servicing and office staff. Jeanette Warner, Managing Director of Better Mobility, commented: “We didn’t have to look hard to find the perfect person, and thankfully Natasha decided to accept the position, making her a permanent, and integral, part of Better Mobility!” The company is continuing to recruit additional service engineers, as well as a new account payable/administration assistant. To contact Natasha or apply for the roles, email n.warner-mizon@bettermobility.co.uk www.bettermobility.co.uk

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NRS SALES DIRECTOR LEAVES TO BECOME CHARITY CEO NRS Healthcare Sales Director Andrew Stevenson has announced he is to leave his role as Sales Director at the end of 2017 as he joins Worcester-based charity Deaf Direct as the new CEO. In a statement, Andrew said: “After a very enjoyable and successful time at NRS Healthcare, I have decided to leave my role as Sales Director at the end of the year. Thank you to all my friends, colleagues, customers and associates for your support and guidance during my time at NRS, I am sure we will stay in touch. I look forward to joining Deaf Direct and to the new challenges ahead.” Starting in 1927, Deaf Direct works to ensure deaf and hard of hearing people enjoy equal participation and access without barriers in society, with expertise in communication & training, information & guidance, outreach services and more.

Do you have a new team member? Why not let the industry know? Just send us a short news item and photo.


Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from all at KYMCO UK Ltd!

K-Chair ‘Light and easy” CALL YOUR AREA SALES MANAGER NOW! Central – Patrick Bevan 07803 000017

South West – Martin Garrett 07850 501634

South East – Keir French 07515 282647

North – Brian McCarry 07714 739763


festive cheer

TIS’ THE SEASON FOR GIVING… THIIS is highlighting some of the charitable actions of companies in the industry sure to make Santa’s ‘nice’ list this Christmas.

NEW SCOOTER FOR BURGLARY VICTIM Crawley-based retailer Wings Mobility donated a brand-new mobility scooter to an elderly pensioner conned out of his savings. 91-year-old Terry Lowes had saved over £1000 in cash to purchase his own mobility scooter, however, had his money stolen from his property after two conmen claiming to be from the council entered his home. Hearing the story, Ajmer Phull, Owner of Wings Mobility, swooped in to help by donating a Sterling Sapphire 2 mobility scooter to the pensioner. Ajmer told THIIS: “We are happy to say that we actually delivered Mr Lowes scooter donation yesterday and he was over the moon!” www.wingsmobility.com

SELF-PROPEL STRONGBACK Universally suitable • Lightweight 7.9kg frame • Quality

135kg user capacity • Advanced lumbar support

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985

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01787 882244 orders@tgamobility.co.uk tgamobility.co.uk


Stairlift specialist goes beyond the call of duty for ill war veteran

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est Yorkshire based Unicorn Stairlifts recently supplied and installed a free stairlift for Gary Westmoreland, after the Falklands War vet suffered a stroke earlier this year that left him requiring a wheelchair. Living in a flat that involved negotiating 22 concrete steps, Gary was unable to leave his home and

Quick release 24” wheels

Compact folding

was told be various companies that the installation of a stairlift would be too complex and expensive to do for free. Unicorn Stairlifts’ Company Director Chris Green was determined to help however, successfully supplying and installing a curved stairlift free of charge in Autumn. Chris told THIIS: “It was a complex

job but after we saw Gary’s situation and how ill he was, I wanted to make sure we could do everything we could to help. Now Gary is out and about and really happy with the installation, which is a great result.” www.unicornstairlifts.co.uk

Unique contoured backrest

QR scan to watch 21/11/2017 11:01

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festive cheer

Valuable Remembrance Parade support for limbless veterans

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or the 14th year running, Electric Mobility supported the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association (BLESMA) at the Remembrance Parade at the Cenotaph. The company provided 20 Rascal 388 S and Rascal 388 mobility

scooters for limbless veterans, with Warehouse Manager Dave Pierce, dedicating his own time to coordinate the support and delivery to the Horse Guards Parade for use in the Parade. With some 40 BLESMA members taking part in this years’ service, 20 members rode the mobility scooters,

think all powerchairs are the same? think again....

along with walking wounded, widows and carers behind them. In total 10,000 individuals marched in honour of their colleagues and to remember those lost in the First World War. www.electricmobility.co.uk

www.invacarelinx.com 01656 776222

3.5”

#redefiningmobility Linx email signature 4.indd 1

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touchscreen n

21/11/2017 16:39:47


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For furniture offering comfort, independence and a higher standard of care, contact;

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festive cheer

FREE CHAIR UPGRADE FOR SCOTLAND’S OLDEST LADY Glasgow-based retailer Mobility Solutions has provided Scotland’s oldest woman with a free upgrade to a newly ordered Tilt-in-Space chair. Born on the 21st of April 1909, Flora Smith from Bearsden is the remarkable age of 108-years-old and has lived through two World Wars, the Space Race and the publication of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. To celebrate her longevity, Mobility Solutions and manufacturer Recliners jointly funded a free upgrade for Flora, providing her with a specialised, made-to-measure Symphony TiIt-inSpace chair. www.mobilitysolutions.co.uk

STILTZ SUPPORTS COOKLEY SPORTS FC Stiltz Lifts has given Kidderminster football team Cookley Sports a major lift after agreeing to a sponsorship deal, giving the team a real boost ahead of their new fixtures according

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to club chairman and treasurer Richard Penny, who is also warehouse manager at Stiltz Lifts. Mike Lord, Chairman of Stiltz Lifts, said: “It’s great to be able to give

something back to the community by sponsoring a local football team in the area.” www.stiltz.co.uk


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market review

STAIRLIFT AND HOME LIFT MARKET REVIEW

THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE STAIRLIFT AND HOME LIFT MARKETS With a number of stairlift and home lift companies reporting global growth, as well as significant domestic success during tough economic conditions, THIIS examines in-depth what is driving some suppliers rise in the market, what retailers are looking for from brands, as well as investigating what impact the relatively new home lift market is having on the established stairlift sector. GLOBAL GROWTH FORECAST A 2016 Persistence Market Research report reviewing the global stairlift market anticipated a global compound annual growth rate of 7% leading up to 2024, with Europe remaining the largest market and

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North America expected to grow at the fastest rate over the period. One stairlift manufacturer which is taking advantage of this growing US market is West Yorkshire-based Acorn Stairlifts, who is now the market leader in the sector in America.

The company recently leapt up the Sunday Times Grant Thornton Top Track 250 league table, after published sales figures for the year ending September 2016 revealed global sales of its British-made stairlifts at ÂŁ177.2 million, an operating


profit of £18.9 million and a total workforce of 1,307. Joanne Richardson, Finance Director for Acorn, commented: “We now export to around 85 countries and have grown to become the world’s biggest business concerned solely with the manufacture, supply, installation and maintenance of home stairlifts.” Across the board, stairlift manufacturers are experiencing similar success, with the Handicare Group’s President and CEO Asbjørn Eskild stating in the organisation’s interim report for January to September 2017 that the Group has “already noted considerable and expanding interest in our stairlifts in the US. In the third quarter, stairlift sales posted a yearon-year increase of 19%.” The global demand does not seem to be limited to just stairlifts as well, as the moderately new domestic lift is also seeing growth overseas. Speaking with Gino Farruggio, Trade Sales Director at Stiltz Lifts, he told THIIS: “We have seen awareness of domestic lifts and, interest in Stiltz home lifts in particular, increase significantly over the past three years as more and more people discover that these types of products are available.” Domestic home lift specialist Stiltz Lifts was ranked as one of Britain’s fastest growing SME exports in the Sunday Times Lloyds SME Export Track 100, which ranks SME enterprises with the fastest-growing international sales over the past two years. Gino continued: “We’ve installed our domestic lifts in more than 20 countries with strong sales in the USA, Germany and France helping us increase exports by 146 per cent to £3.2million in 2016, with total recorded sales of £8.4million.” This trend of growing demand in the home lift market was echoed by Terry Lifts. John McSweeney, Marketing & Export Director for home lift provider Terry Lifts, confirmed: “All over the developed and developing world, we are seeing increased demand as awareness increases for home lifts.”

THE WORLD IS GETTING OLDER One of the key factors driving this demand is the booming mature market, with a 2017 United Nations report into the global ageing population stating the number of persons aged 80-years or over across the world is projected to increase more than threefold between 2017 and 2050, rising from 137-million to 425-million. The report also found that Europe and Northern America contain the highest percentages of older populations, predicting that by 2050,

DOMESTIC ECONOMIC IMPACT ON THE MARKET The study also predicted that the UK will remain the dominant stairlift market in Europe. However, has rising inflation caused by a weakening pound and a slowing in consumer spending impacted the private domestic demand for stairlifts and home lifts? David Harrison, Sales and Marketing Director at Companion, believes that the economic climate has not played a significant role in the stairlift market. He told THIIS: “Most of our

“We’re not immune to the economic climate but its impact isn’t huge” DAVID HARRISON

older people are expected to account for 35 percent of the population in Europe and 28 percent in Northern America. The UK population aged over-65 is predicted to increase to 23 percent by 2033 and as the age of the population continues to increase, so too will the challenges facing older individuals. Ageing-related health conditions is accelerating the demand for stairlifts according to Persistence Market Research’s 2016 research, as those with reduced mobility seek to maintain their independence.

customers are purchasing because they need a stairlift. It’s not an aspirational product and as such, demand isn’t really affected by whether or not people are spending or prices are rising. We’re not immune to the economic climate but its impact isn’t huge.” This sentiment was reaffirmed by Stiltz Lift’s Gino Farruggio, who added: “We have seen no impact from the current economic climate on our business. On the contrary, we are seeing more and more people investing in Stiltz home lifts.

Stairlift demand set to increase gloablly

www.thiis.co.uk | 43


market review

Paul Stockdill, National Sales Manager at Handicare

“From our research, homeowners can save more than £5,000 by buying one of our lifts rather than moving house but we don’t necessarily believe it is because it is too expensive to move due to slower rising inflation or a weaker pound. It’s more due to the fact that a Stiltz home lift enables them to stay in the home they love or ‘future proof’ their property for use in later life.” Terry Lifts has also seen no decrease in private domestic demand, noting that the company has actually benefitted from the current economic climate. “The target market is generally affluent and already retired, so this has had no effect on our business to date,” confirmed John McSweeney. “The weakness of sterling has had a beneficial effect in terms of exports, with around a 15% cost reduction for overseas purchasers.” Whilst the private stairlift and home lift markets domestically have proven resilient to current economic pressures, the outlook for the publicsector side of the market is less optimistic. Handicare’s National Sales Manager Paul Stockdill explained: “The lack of clarity around funding for home adaptations continues to be a challenge for everyone working in the social care sector. “Last winter, the NHS experienced the highest-ever level of delayed transfers of care due to a lack of

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adult social care provision for patients fit for hospital discharge. There’s clearly a need for stairlifts and other home adaptations which can ease the pressure on NHS budgets, but the delivery of services needs to be addressed and quickly.” Despite funding pressures impacting the parts of Handicare that work with local authorities and organisations, the company remains confident that its offer will be attractive to this market. “We have a very positive message for our clients in these sectors as our equipment and services can reduce cost pressures elsewhere in their public spending,” said Paul. As well as communicating the benefits of its offer to customers affected the public-sector budget constraints, Handicare have also developed and adapted their stairlift offer to remain competitive. Paul added: “Across the UK, we work with facilities management

installation and aftercare service. An alternative route to market that plays a pivotal role in stairlift and home lift manufacturers’ and providers’ success is via building strong, profitable relationships with retailers. Various organisations interact with dealers in different capacities, with some opting to train and accredit retailers to be able assess and install stairlifts and home lifts, whilst others reward partners for passing on leads. Paul Stockdill discussed just how important working with dealers is to Handicare’s continued success: “Dealer sales are a huge part of our growth strategy and we’ve got some new services planned for launch early in 2018, which will enable us to offer a wider support package that can be tailored according to our partners’ preferences and ambitions for their businesses.” Retailers that have the capacity to assess, install and maintain stairlifts are valuable to suppliers, as they

“Manufacturers should not underestimate the power that some self-installing distributors have in their locality” ALASTAIR GIBBS

companies and large local authorities to supply, maintain and service stairlifts and have significantly improved the speed and quality of the service for users, at the same time reducing costs by introducing newer ‘plug and use’ technologies.” COMPETING FOR PARTNER LOYALTY Across the industry, the route to market for various stairlift and home lift manufacturers varies, with companies such as Acorn Stairlifts opting to handle all aspects of the process themselves, from manufacturing to supply, installation and maintenance. The company attributes its continued growth to its fast response times one-stop business model, marketing its own stairlifts direct to customers and providing a full

have the ability to engage and sell to customers on an often difficult to reach, local level. Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of mobility retailer TPG DisableAids, explained: “There will always be some conflict between direct sales and dealer sales, but often we would target a different customer in a different marketplace. Where some will respond to national advertising, many wish to buy locally and would look for a supplier in their locality. “Manufacturers should not underestimate the power that some self-installing distributors have in their locality and as we take on the labour content of the warranty, we can also be good value sales to them, even if their margin is slightly lower at day one.” This has led to a number of


WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU NEXT YEAR ON th th 7 AND 8 OCTOBER! Join us at Europe’s sole TRADE ONLY business to business event for the mobility, living aids and assistive technology industry www.tradedays.co.uk

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market review suppliers creating schemes rewarding partner loyalty in a bid to gain competitive advantage and incentivise retailers to promote their products and brands. Commenting on the benefits of becoming a Handicare partner, Paul said: “Our Partner Programme is designed to help increase dealers’ commercial activity as well as rewarding their commitment and loyalty and it’s really been gaining momentum over the last six months. For us, it’s all about choice, and we’d like to allow our partners to choose how much support they want from their preferred product partner. Next year promises to be an exciting one, and we’d love to welcome even more dealers to the programme.” This is a business model also being adopted in the younger home lift market by Stiltz, who launched their new Stiltz Home Lift Training Academy just over a year ago. The company has enthusiastically promoted the new training scheme to retailers, designed to enable partner companies to install the domestic lifts into customers’ homes themselves, rather than relying on Stiltz’ installation teams. “It has been very successful with

several dealers graduating from the programme,” said Gino Farruggio. “Our overall aim is to have a trade dealer representing Stiltz Lifts in every major city or town in the UK. However, while we have had lots of interest and approaches from businesses, we are very mindful of the way we select our trade dealer partners because it is paramount that the customers receive the highest level of service from them.” For retailers unable to participate in the programme, the home lift specialist offers two alternative tiers for dealers to become involved. “There is the option of the entrylevel Stiltz Lead Referral Scheme where the dealer promotes and markets Stiltz products, then passes on enquiries and receive commission on the sales (of up to £1,000 per sale),” detailed Gino. “Alternatively, a mid-tier programme is available whereby dealers promote and market Stiltz products, complete the sale and receive an even higher commission, but we complete the final survey and install the lift.” Referral schemes provide retailers that lack the infrastructure to assess and install stairlifts and home lifts with the potential to earn high

David Harrison, Sales and Marketing Director at Companion

commissions and offer additional products and services to customers without expensive investment. This is a model that drives Companion Stairlifts, as David explained: “Collaboration and strong partnerships have always been important to us at Companion; they are indicative of the way we conduct our business in a way that benefits our customers, partners, suppliers, employees and our community. We’re in business to be successful and grow; but it’s how we achieve this

WHAT DO RETAILERS REALLY WANT? Speaking with TPG DisableAids’s Alastair Gibbs, he told THIIS that some of the loyalty schemes offered were of little interest to him when choosing who to partner with. “We are main agents for many of the leading brands of stairlifts that are either manufactured or sold in the UK,” explained Alastair. “Some of the ‘Loyalty Schemes’ that are offered are of minor interest; in all honesty, we are often looking for a more serious commitment to partnering.” Installing around 1000 stairlifts each year, the retailer is a long-term supplier and installer of stairlifts to many different buyers and has contracts with Local Authorities, Housing Associations and also supplies lifts on Disabled Facilities

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Grants and privately. For Alastair, there are two key areas which determine whether he works with brands; product quality and marketing support. “It is of little interest to us to have a short term special offer or extra discount or points for prizes if the core product offering has shortcomings. I often use the phrase, ‘Make me Comfortable’. This means I am comfortable in the knowledge that the product is of good quality, it is reliable, it has sufficient features and options to fulfil our customers’ requirements, and it is backed up by professional people that understand how dealers and distributors work,” said Alastair. The retailer noted that high percentage of profit on the day of

install was not what he was after if it was eroded away during the course of the warranty, resulting in no margin and an unhappy customer. He continued: “Additionally, I often think many manufacturers are slow or poor in their marketing support. It is all very well supplying quantities of glossy leaflets but that is Point of Sale, it is not marketing. What I would look for is how can we work together to bring customers to our door or encourage them to make contact in the first place.” Many retailers are keen to work with manufacturers that have got the core offer correct and understand how to meaningfully work with retailers to really add value to the relationship.


that makes us stand out from our competition.” In order to encourage retailers to partner with the stairlift provider and stay a step ahead of competition, the company launched its Accredited Partner Programme in Spring 2017, offering partners valuable marketing support, as well as tempting rewards for loyalty. “We’ve been very pleased with the response to our Accredited Partner programme,” said David. “Our intention was always to improve communications between Companion and our network of mobility retailers, and to give them additional marketing materials to help promote our stairlift and accessible bathing services. “We’ve had excellent feedback and we’ll be launching the next phase of the programme in 2018.” STAIRLIFT VS HOME LIFT MARKET The emerging home lift market has seen considerable growth over recent years, with established stairlift brands such as Stannah and platform lifts companies such as Gartec releasing their own home lift brands, as well as companies specialising in the technology such as Lifton and Stiltz. Interestingly, when asked if this developing market was threatening the larger and more established stairlift market, suppliers on either side shared very different opinions. Companion’s David Harrison believes stairlifts are not competing with home lifts, with the price points of both products being the biggest differentiation. He explained: “We don’t believe customers see home lifts as an alternative solution. It’s a different proposition for many due to the high cost and disruption to their homes compared with installing a stairlift.” Research carried out by Rica for Age UK in 2016 found the average price for a stairlift to be supplied and installed was in the region of £5500 – although this can vary widely depending on the stairlift purchased, the environment and the company – whereas the cost of a home lift is often more than double the cost.

David added: “Stairlifts continue to be a cost-effective and affordable solution to the challenge of climbing stairs for many people as they get older.” New technology, such as Handicare’s photographic survey systems (PhotoSurvey), also continues to improve the installation process of the devices, further reducing time and costs whilst improving accuracy. Despite their more expensive price tag and potential installation disruption however, home lift suppliers insist that more consumers are turning towards home lifts as a viable substitute to stairlifts. John McSweeney from Terry Lifts commented: “To a degree, consumers are moving away from stairlifts to home lifts. Increased awareness of the home lift as a safer, more flexible

new homeowner often has to pay to get it removed as it has negative connotations surrounding mobility and disability” highlighted John McSweeney. Gino supported the claim, adding: “Customers who have bought a Stiltz home lift and had to move for whatever reason, such as deciding to emigrate for example, have told us that the value of their property has increased due to them having a domestic lift.” APPEALING TO A YOUNGER AUDIENCE Whilst the two products may not be competing across the wider demographic of disabled and older customers yet, there is the risk that as home lifts become more affordable, they may pip stairlifts to the post

“The industry cannot afford to play fast and loose with consumers lives.” JOHN MCSWEENEY

alternative to the traditional stairlift is a key factor.” Stiltz’ Gino Farruggio supported this idea, highlighting that the company’s home lifts can be installed almost anywhere in the home rather than limited to a staircase, can provide more independence for wheelchair and walking frame users, and importantly, shakes off the stigmas associated with stairlifts. “We are seeing more and more consumers choosing a home lift rather than a stairlift because they recognise the huge benefits,” argued Gino. “A Stiltz home lift is a much more dignified solution for the user as, in some homes, the first thing visitors might see when they walk in is the stairlift.” The home lift suppliers also emphasise that installing a domestic, through-the-floor lift into a property raises its value. “A fully enclosed home lift will add value to a property as it becomes desirable to a wider demographic. A stairlift does not achieve this and the

when engaging with customers. According to both Stiltz and Terry Lifts, home lifts appeal to a younger demographic who are looking to the ‘future proof’ their homes, in comparison to stairlifts which are typically purchased when mobility becomes an issue.

Gino Farruggio, Trade Sales Director at Stiltz Lifts, suggests more people are coming around to the idea of ‘future proofing’ their homes

www.thiis.co.uk | 47


market review Gino told THIIS: “The average age of a Stiltz Lifts customer is 60 - 65 because they are looking ahead to the future. We have seen many consumers of retirement age, who have recently moved house, choosing to install one of our domestic lifts because they have no intention of ever moving again. “They see Stiltz home lifts as a costeffective solution rather than having to move house again when they might be in their 70s or 80s.” Terry Lifts also noted the typical age of their customers is declining “This is starting to come down as empty nesters, who are still working, look to invest in their properties and future proofing is one way to achieve that,” explained John McSweeney. With the global population over aged 60 years and over expected to double from 962 million in 2017 to 2.1 billion by 2050 according to the UN’s ageing population study, the potential market in the coming years for home lifts is set to expand and could threaten the stairlift market’s share if the products’ price points fall. HOME LIFT MARKET CHALLENGES The market outlook for home lifts seems positive, however, suppliers in the market face some significant challenges. For Stiltz, the need to raise awareness amongst customers about the product is fundamental, with many individuals being unaware of the option of a home lift and others considering the cost to be too great. “Awareness of Stiltz home lifts and, domestic lifts in general, has increased but it continues to be our biggest challenge as there are still people unfamiliar with our products,” said Gino. “The concept of installing a lift in your home is still fairly new and, here at Stiltz Lifts, we have a saying that we want to ‘democratise’ home lifts which basically means making our products something that is ‘accessible to everyone’.” For Terry Lifts, safety is a key concern, with the company’s Maxine Skelton confirming that in England and Wales, there is no statutory

48 | www.thiis.co.uk

Will home lifts threaten stairlifts’ market share in years to come?

requirement to fit any fire protection to the underside or the top cover lid for residential installations of throughfloor-lifts. John McSweeney commented: “Ensuring that all manufacturers comply with the relevant European and UK standards, particularly in regard to fire and smoke protection

The home lift market, which currently appeals to the more affluent older customer due to the products’ higher price point, may increasingly threaten the market share of the stairlift sector as the product’s price comes down. This may become more prominent as home lifts are able to appeal to

“The lack of clarity around funding for home adaptations continues to be a challenge for everyone working in the social care sector” PAUL STOCKDILL

and easy emergency lift lowering and passenger release is a major challenge. “The industry cannot afford to play fast and loose with consumers lives. This was brought home so tragically recently with the Grenfell House fire disaster in London.” WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR STAIRLIFTS AND HOME LIFTS? With an ageing global population that is widely forecast to continue increasing steeply over the coming decades, the outlook for both stairlifts and home lifts seems positive, with stairlifts enjoying a degree of immunity from economic fluctuations due to the essential nature of the product.

younger end-users, benefitting from not having the same connotations associated with them as stairlifts. As demand continues to grow and competition by suppliers to get in front of local customers continues, retailers are likely to receive even better commissions and rewards as suppliers invest more time and resources wooing them to become a partner. In the end however, it is the manufacturers that are able to build strong relationships and meet both the quality requirements and support needs of retailers that will see lasting, fruitful trade partnerships.


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round-up

ABILITY MATTERS GROUP RANKS FOR FOURTH CONSECUTIVE YEAR

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he Ability Matters Group has been recognised for making waves on the world stage at the 8th annual Sunday Times HSBC International Track 200 awards ceremony for the fourth consecutive year. The International Track 200 league

table ranks the UK’s mid-market private companies with the fastestgrowing overseas sales, with the Ability Matters Group ranking 38th out of 200. Ability Matters provide specialist prosthetic, orthotic and mobility services via private clinics and retail

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CLEARWELL CONTINUES SOUTHERN EXPANSION Launching from a single showroom in Brighton in 2004 by husband and wife team, Duncan and Natasha Gillett, Clearwell Mobility now turns over more than £4.3 million across 12 showrooms in Sussex, Kent and Surrey, with the company recently opening its latest store in Crawley

T

he retailer has expanded to become the largest retailer in the South East, becoming the largest provider of Motability funded scooters and powerchairs in the region. Located in the heart of Crawley town centre, a short walk from the main shopping centre, the new, approximately 1,800 square feet showroom has undergone extensive refurbishment over the last 3 months and is the largest mobility store in the town.

52 | www.thiis.co.uk

Duncan Gillett, Managing Director of Clearwell Mobility commented “We are delighted to have secured new premises in Crawley giving us unrivalled coverage of West Sussex. With a population of over 100,000

people in Crawley and the towns of Horsham and East Grinstead nearby, this new showroom represents an important step for the company.” The Crawley addition brings Clearwell Mobility’s tally of stores in

“We are delighted to have secured new premises in Crawley giving us unrivalled coverage of West Sussex.” DUNCAN GILLETT


Sussex to nine and will supply local residents and customers from the surrounding areas with a full range of mobility products, including walking aids, rise recline chairs, profiling beds, bathing equipment, as well as the opportunity for customers to ‘try

in-store collection. Customers are also able to view information about Clearwell’s adaptations business, showcasing the company’s recent installations and Buying Guides on the in-store digital technology.

“Our showrooms across the South provide us with strong aftersales support and a network of engineers on the road so our customers are always looked after.” ANDREW FINCH

before they buy’ on the latest Starla stairlift from Stannah. Andrew Finch, Marketing Manager at Clearwell Mobility, said: “That is one of the main areas that we have been looking at for a while; it’s quite a new town with a good sized population so it’s an ideal location for us; just up the A23 and on the main route between Brighton and London with the towns of Horsham and East Grinstead.” The company says significant investment has been made in the in-store technology of the new showroom, with a large interactive touch screen giving easy access to Clearwell’s extensive online product range, enabling customers to order for

Speaking to Andrew about how Clearwell aims to stay ahead of its competitors in the town, he said: “We have always championed our infrastructure. Our showrooms across the South provide us with strong aftersales support and a network of engineers on the road so our customers are always looked after. Our stockholdings are always considerably large as well so we have a good foundation to build on.” The showroom features full height graphics panels, highlighting key elements of the equipment and informing customers of factors they should consider before making a purchase, as well as free to use wi-fi

throughout the store. Mr Brian Quinn, Mayor of Crawley, together with the Madame Mayoress officially cut the ribbon of the new Crawley store and was presented with a donation of £250 to the local Alzheimer’s society in Crawley, one of the Mayor’s official charities, by Duncan. With 12 stores and counting, the company is not making any firm promises about slowing down its expansion. “The plan is always to keep an eye out and take advantage of any opportunities that arise, although nothing is put on paper yet,” finished Andrew. www.clearwellmobility.co.uk

CLEARWELL MOBILITY SHOWROOMS... • • • • • • • • • • • •

Brighton Burgess Hill Chichester Crawley Hastings Hove Polegate Seaford Staines Tunbridge Well Woking Worthing

The Mayor was given a tour of the products in store, including demonstration of the Stannah stairlift

www.thiis.co.uk | 53


round-up

Christmas treat for dealers from Repose

B

espoke seating specialist Repose has announced its final retailer promotion for 2017, providing a free luxury pocket spring cushion which worth £30 over the festive period. Available on chairs within the company’s homecare range – not available on seat widths over 22” or seat depths below 16” - the cushion is designed with individual high tensile steel coil springs in individual

pockets, providing consistent support throughout the life of the chair, additional comfort for users and lasting shape to the seat cushion. “2017 has been another successful year in the story of Repose Furniture and I hope our retailers have benefited from the monthly promotion campaign we have been running throughout the year. Our retailers play a vital role in our business and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them for

their support in 2017 and wish them a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,” commented Managing Director Lisa Wardley. Repose Furniture will close for Christmas from Thursday 21st December and re-open Tuesday 2nd January 2018 To qualify for this special offer, retailers should quote December2017 when placing an order between December 1st and 31st.

Book your place... ...with the best in Britain’s Healthcare Industry at The British Healthcare Trades Awards Dinner 2017. To book your table or place, E-mail Nigel Woods at: nigel.woods@bhta.com

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The answer is YES!

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product showcase

PRODUCT SHOWCASE

STAIRLIFTS, HOME LIFTS & ACCESS

Unique two-in-one wheelchair platform lift

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s one of only six authorised UK dealers in the UK, Higher Elevation Limited is introducing the FlexStep to the South East of England. Described as the ideal solution to conquer split levels for all wheelchairs users and walking-impaired persons

56 | www.thiis.co.uk

in areas with minimal space, the FlexStep is an elegant combination of a regular staircase and a wheelchair platform lift. Able to easily integrate to its surroundings, the FlexStep can be designed and configurated to each project with minimal disruption and

without changing existing structural elements. Suitable for both commercial and domestic properties, more information can be found at the company’s website. www.higherelevation.co.uk


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product showcase

LUXURY TRIO+ HOME LIFT INTRODUCED TO THE MARKET Stiltz has launched a spacious, wheelchair-friendly lift designed to accommodate a full-sized wheelchair or comfortably carry up to three passengers.

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he company says the new luxury Trio+ HomeLift is a ground-breaking addition to its range of unique domestic lifts and enables trade dealers to offer a practical and stylish product to the consumer market and local authorities. Designed with a warm grey aluminium frame, the Trio+ has a

58 | www.thiis.co.uk

transparent main body like the smaller Duo+ which allows it to blend into the background of any room. There is the added option of an automatic door to make entering and exiting the lift in a wheelchair easier and a gently sloping ramp is included as standard. The car body has been specifically built with wheelchair users in mind,

with its wide entry and exit points, but its overall footprint is still described as unobtrusive at just 1040mm x 1378mm. The Stiltz Trio+ HomeLift has undergone extensive testing and fully complies with BS 5900:2012 powered home lifts along with BS EN 81-41 accreditation. www.stiltz.co.uk


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product showcase

Unique Active Seat choice for Handicare Freecurve

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andicare’s Freecurve has a single curved rail system offering users a choice of two seat positions; the standard position with a user’s back to the wall or a downward facing seat positioned at 45° to the wall which is ideal for particularly narrow curved staircases. The seat choices include an Active Seat which provides assistance for those users who need additional support when getting on and off the stairlift. Unique to Handicare, the Active Seat has a lift and tilt mechanism which is manually activated by a lever and tilts upwards to support the user when they are getting up, remaining in a tilted upwards position until the user is ready to use the stairlift again. Paul Stockdill, National Sales Manager at Handicare, said: “Healthcare professionals are enthusiastic about the easy-to-use Active Seat, which can also improve carer assisted transfers by reducing the physical assistance needed to support the sitting or standing action. “This and other stairlift features are clearly explained in our new Handicare Stairlifts brochure, coming soon as part of our enhanced support for dealers.” www.handicare.co.uk

ALUMINIUM ACCESS FROM RA’ALLOY According to Ra’alloy, the company is the only UK-based manufacturer of aluminium disabled access ramps and systems. The ramps are designed to blend in with the surroundings of a user’s home and feature non-wearing, antislip flooring to keep total foot traction even in wet or icy conditions, as well as contrasting colours for people with visual impairment. With a safe working load of 500kgs per square metre, the company also produces modular systems which can be configured into different shapes and reused at various locations. www.raalloy.co.uk

COMING SOON FROM TERRY LIFTS “We are introducing a new range of enclosed Homelifts that will be very appealing to dealers. Terry lifts are known in the UK domestic lift trade for having a high standard of product safety and standards compliance, as well as being a trusted UK manufacturer. Therefore, we are confident that past, present and future dealers will want to promote and sell our enclosed home lift range once it is rolled out.” John McSweeney, Marketing & Export Director Terry Lifts

60 | www.thiis.co.uk


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THE DECLINE OF NHS BEDS

COULD A TREND IN FALLING NHS BED NUMBERS SPELL TROUBLE FOR SUPPLIERS? A report released by the King’s Fund has found that NHS bed numbers have fallen significantly over the last three decades and worryingly for suppliers to the Health Service, looks continue to fall in the coming years.

I

n 1987/88, NHS bed stock totalled 299,364 stated the new report but had fallen to 142,568 in 2016/2017, with the largest drops occurring in overnight mental health and learning disability beds, falling by 72.1 and 96.4 percent respectively in the 30year period. The ‘NHS hospital bed numbers: past, present, future’ report by the King’s Fund states that most other advanced health care systems have also reduced bed numbers in recent years however, highlights that England currently has fewer acute beds relative to its population than almost any other comparable health system. Mental illness & learning disability beds were found to have the largest percentage reductions in bed numbers, with the number of general and acute beds also falling sharply, with a 43 percent drop since 1987/8 according to the research.

62 | www.thiis.co.uk

In contrast to the other categories however, the number of day-only beds has grown by more than 520 per cent, from around 2,000 in 1987/8 to 12,463 in 2016/17. The numbers reveal a shift in the way healthcare is provided in the UK, with changing policies such as the moving of mentally ill and learning disability patient care into the community, as well as the increase in day-case operations.

These changing policies have reshaped the NHS’ priorities in regard to which beds it requires, with general and acute beds making up a much larger share of the total. The report reveals that in 1987/8, 60.4 percent of the total stock was general and acute beds, whereas by 2016/17, it made up 71.8 percent. Day-only beds have also grown as a proportion of the total bed stock, accounting for less than 1 percent in

“Current procurement practice does not allow for cost efficiencies to be taken into account when buying or evaluating supply contracts and tenders if the beneficiary is another department or healthcare organisation” ANGUS LONG


1987/8 and growing to around 8.7 per cent in 2016/17. The success of policies to move more care into the community relies on the availability of these services within the community. Many community services however are struggling to cope under reduced funding, a growing population and a rising number of older people in England, with the Office of National Statistics stating the number of people aged 65 and over has increased by approximately 33.6 percent over the 30-year period. Combined, these factors have led to large numbers of delayed transfers into socio-care environments and increasing bed shortages. The report emphasised that in 2016/17, overnight general and acute bed occupancy averaged 90.3 percent and regularly exceeded 95 percent in winter, whilst the National Audit Office has noted that hospitals with average bed-occupancy levels above 85 percent can expect to have regular bed shortages, periodic bed crises and increased numbers of health care-acquired infections. Angus Long, Owner of Impression Marketing, discussed how officialdom and bureaucracy in the NHS and county councils was a decisive factor causing delays transferring patients in socio-care environments, leading to bed-blocking and longer discharge times. “Current procurement practice does not allow for cost efficiencies to be taken into account when buying or evaluating supply contracts and tenders if the beneficiary is another department or healthcare organisation, other than that of the purchasing budget holder,” commented Angus. “This was illustrated a couple of years ago when Durham County Council chose not to award a regional community care contract to a local company. The reason being that it felt the cost benefits to the NHS of being able to discharge patients back into the community three weeks earlier than previously wasn’t a consideration the council could take into account, as the cost savings would not be reflected in their budget and to do so

64 | www.thiis.co.uk

WHAT ABOUT THE INDEPENDENT SECTOR AND SOCIAL CARE?

Does the sharp fall in beds spell trouble for suppliers?

would contradict procurement rules.” Aware of the need for closer collaboration, 44 NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’ (STPs) have been created to address the issues, bringing together the NHS and local councils to find ways of improving efficiency and reducing costs. Worryingly for manufacturers and patients, many of the local blueprints drawn up are targeting further reductions in beds, such as Lancashire & South Cumbria and Cheshire & Merseyside, with the report acknowledging demanding financial control totals playing a large role. Some STPs are plan on reducing beds more than the recent trend. Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland set out in their Sustainability and Transformation Plan, released on the 21st November 2016, to reduce acute beds from 1940 in 2016/17 to 1697 in 2020/21 beds, whilst also reducing community hospital beds from 233 in 2016/17 to 195 in 2020/21 beds. For suppliers of beds to the NHS, this evidence suggests that demand from the Health Service will continue to fall in the coming years, however, the report argues that realism is required about what can be achieved. With bed shortages and blocking already at high levels, continued population growth combined with an increasing proportion of elderly people more likely in need of health care and a prolonged slowing of NHS funding, the report concludes that whilst “in some areas, it may be possible to reduce the number of beds further, at a national level, further significant reductions are both unachievable and undesirable” and ambitious aims set out “in some STPs to reduce beds by 2020/21 look unrealistic.”

This trend in the reduction of beds does not seem to apply solely to the NHS, with the number of acute beds in the independent sector – which partly caters for self-paying patients, those with insurance and some planned care for NHS patients – also seeing a drop. According to figures from market intelligence agency LaingBuisson, the number of acute beds in the independent sector fell from approximately 9,500 in 2006 to approximately 8,900 in 2016, after peaking in the mid-19990s at just under 11,700. The number of beds in the social care sector has seen an increase in the past six years as the NHS continues to reduce the number of beds available for the long-term care of the elderly, however, is still less than the number of beds available in the mid-1990s. LaingBuisson estimates that in 1988, there were slightly fewer than 363,000 social care beds in the UK, with those numbers peaking to more than 525,000 in the mid-90s. However, a decline in the subsequent years now estimate the numbers to be around 458,000, with a modest increase in purchasing occurring since 2010.


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retailer spotlight

Sarah and son Zak outside the new Cork store

HOW ONE ARTICLE CHANGED A RETAILER’S FUTURE... In June, THIIS covered the story of Sarah Boys, a medical professional who hung up her scrubs after working on the BBC’s popular drama Holby City and decided to open a new retail store in Ireland. Speaking with Sarah, THIIS revisited the fledgling retailer to learn more about a series of surprising events that have taken place over the last six-months.

T

he first year for a new business is often make or break but for retailer Aid and Enable, the company now has a wider range, another store to manage and a new name in just half-a-year! Having started trading on the 1st June 2017, Aid and Enable was steadily building business throughout its first month when Sarah received a call from Peter McGuinness, Managing Director of Homecare Medical Supplies. The organisation has a network of stores across Ireland, selling and distributing both own-brand and

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supplier-branded homecare medical equipment, consumables, as well as providing the service, decontamination and hire of medical equipment. Having spent two decades selling for medical companies in the UK and Ireland, Sarah was no stranger to the company, with Homecare Medical Supplies having been one of her major competitors. It was an interesting proposition however from the national company that led to the two crossing paths this time. Peter requested a meeting and when the two sat down later that week, he set out a proposal for Aid

and Enable to become a distributor for Homecare Medical Supplies. Not only did discussion centre around Aid and Enable’s new Bantry store, but also developed to include the possibility of taking over their Cork store – one of Aid and Enable’s competitors. Following weeks of research, negotiations and raising funds, Aid and Enable took on the Homecare trademark and distribution for both Bantry and Cork from the 2nd of November, with Sarah’s sister Debbie managing the Bantry store and her son, Zak, managing the Cork outlet.


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retailer spotlight THIIS spoke to Sarah to find out more about the new opportunity, her experiences in the retail market so far and what the future holds... What were your thoughts and concerns when approached to become a distributor for Homecare Medical Supplies. Was this an outcome you had considered when you first started Aid and Enable? We had researched the national & local markets quite thoroughly and actually flagged Homecare Medical Supplies’ store in Cork as a major competitor to our Bantry store. However, we believed we would have enough of a catchment area to sustain the business. We also visited the Cork store several times as we were impressed by the layout and merchandising and wanted to emulate it in Bantry where feasible. When Peter contacted us, we were surprised more than anything else. There followed a very open and frank meeting, during which the focus was on the Bantry store and the possibility of becoming a distributor in West Cork. Although we’d researched many potential competitors, we hadn’t realised that some of the Homecare stores were run on this basis and so it was an outcome that we had never considered. What was it that inspired Peter to first approach you to become a Homecare distributor and also take over the Cork store? Back in September 2016, we visited Trade Days at the NEC looking for potential suppliers and it was there that we first came across THIIS. After a short conversation, we agreed that we would get in touch closer to our opening date to see if we had a newsworthy story. My previous connection with the BBC, and particularly Holby City, provided our angle and we were delighted to be featured on the cover of the June 2017 edition. We realised that we would probably not be hitting our potential customers but it did raise our profile with our chosen suppliers and we received some very positive

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feedback from them. Little did we realise that we had also brought ourselves to the attention of Homecare Medical Supplies. Peter mentioned in his initial phone call that he had seen the article and, sure enough, when he arrived in Bantry a few days later, he was brandishing the June edition of THIIS! I think the fact that we had achieved a cover story impressed Peter and he could see our position in Bantry would give Homecare a chance to penetrate the West Cork market. The proposal of taking on Cork came the following day, with Peter having had some discussions and reflection on the previous day’s conversation. For us, it was totally unexpected and we were absolutely thrilled at the possibility, especially as we were familiar with the store. Like all projects, there’s quite a

enquiries about hiring but this had proved unaffordable for us working at our scale. Homecare also have an extensive range called Memory Corner, aimed at improving the care of those living with dementia. We are now part of a national brand but with the independence to put our own stamp on the stores we run. What plans do you have in the pipeline for the new stores? We have lots of exciting plans for both the Cork and Bantry stores and, hopefully, avenues that our competitors have overlooked as of yet. In that respect, we are going to keep our cards close to our chest because we know the industry reads the magazine! As a company, Homecare are supporting us with some Facebook campaigns that are really promoting the Cork and Bantry stores, as well

“We are now part of a national brand but with the independence to put our own stamp on the stores we run.” SARAH BOYS

lot of work to be done but we now have a spacious store which is easily accessible, with private off-road parking and only five-minutes from Cork University Hospital. It’s a great place to start. What was it that motivated you to agree to become a distributor for Homecare? As with most proposals, the offer from Homecare had a number of pros and cons. Our final decision was based primarily on how it would affect the customer experience. We can now offer a wider range of products as the ordering system is more streamlined, meaning we hold much less reserve stock. Through Homecare Medical Supplies, we can also offer Hire Essentials - a range of larger equipment available for hire, including delivery, installation, collection and decontamination. We had already had

as store support and training. I will be approaching some of my contacts in the industry and also presenting to special interest groups. Also, given the time of year, Zak is looking at how best to promote gift ideas as well. What does the new arrangement mean for the future of Aid and Enable? Will the store keep its branding or will it become a fully branded Homecare Medical Supplies store? There were various options open to us in this regard but, as the Cork store was already trading under the Homecare brand, it was decided to rebrand Bantry for the sake of continuity. It also means that any promotion can easily include both stores. We are still Aid and Enable as a company and it was sad to lose the name on the high street but I just


retailer spotlight remind myself that it was all our efforts up to July that have now led to us operating two great stores. What has been the reaction from your customers now you are now flying the Homecare flag? We are presently right in the middle of the changeover in Bantry. It is great to be able to talk to customers about the increased range of products and, if necessary, swap stock between the stores at short notice. Fortunately, some of the suppliers used by Homecare are the same that we had chosen for Aid and Enable so it helps make the changeover more seamless. It is also a perfect opportunity to go back to healthcare professionals with a new catalogue and website, as well as the augmented services that Homecare can offer. What were some of the challenges you faced in your first six-months mobility retailing? Whilst I had been selling products into some retail outlets in my previous role, it was still a daunting prospect to stock a whole shop from scratch. Trade Days was the single event that led to us establishing most of our suppliers. I was also able to meet with an occupational therapist with retail experience who gave me invaluable advice on our initial stock purchase. One of my main activities previously had been continence assessment and staff training so I knew that this would form the core of our business, but it

is also a very personal subject and some people are disinclined to want to discuss it. Building up this side of the business has been slow, but steady. We have an expanding core of customers and really, once you have put them at ease, you can meet their needs far better. Our initial plans for marketing the Bantry store got pretty much put on hold once the proposal from Homecare was on the table. After a second meeting with Peter, we knew we wanted to pursue this option. Thus, after being open for only sixweeks, we had to embark on more research, more negotiations and seek more finance, eventually taking over in Cork about four-months after the initial phone call. It was hard work and worth it but now we need to refocus on some of our original plans for Bantry and forge ahead with Cork. What have you most enjoyed from your time in the mobility retail industry so far? This is a very person-centred industry, not only in regard to our customers but also with the people we work alongside. We have had invaluable advice from people in the industry, some previous customers of mine and others, new acquaintances in the industry, so building these relationships has been very rewarding. We also realise that we are in a sector where we can truly make a difference. Sometimes we are exposed to very sensitive and

The partnership has increased the new retailer’s product range to offer their customer

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upsetting situations and that can be tough. I know from my work in nursing homes that continence care has a huge impact, not only on the client but also on the family and staff involved in their care. I’m sure every store has a similar story but we had a lady return to the shop the other day having purchased some continence wear previously. She was delighted that her mum had her first dry night in years. That makes it worth it. How do you see the landscape of mobility retailing changing over the next few years? One positive factor is that our sector is naturally expanding. As in the UK, Ireland has an ageing population as well as a health service that is under increasing pressure, partly because of this. There is a push to increase the number of nursing home places but many people, understandably, want to remain in their family homes for as long as possible. This, along with the increase in joint replacements and the gradually more open attitude to incontinence should present us with a sustainable business in the future. As with other industries, we will probably see an increase in online shopping. Even the present generation, who might now be purchasing for elderly parents, are likely to be experienced online shoppers. There are companies selling exclusively online in Ireland who are benefiting from their lower overheads. Supermarket chains are also diversifying to include continence products and mobility equipment. We need our business to offer more. I want to offer a service. Whilst the referrals may come from the OT or physio, we want to then be there with our support, service and advice. We also want to be visible to the right people in the local community. Increasingly, I am asked to present to community groups and medical professionals to inform them of our product range. www.homecaremedicalsupplies.ie


DOING BUSINESS AROUND THE WORLD JUST GOT EASIER... Global Healthcare Trader (GHT) is designed for companies looking to find distributors around the world. A simple search facility enables companies looking to import new products the ability to find businesses looking to sell into their own country in just a couple of clicks. If your company is looking to build business around the world, then it could well be the easiest, quickest and simplest way to do it.

USING GHT IS AS EASY AS…

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Go to GHT and select the ‘Start your search here’ button

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Select a country from the list and click on ‘Search’

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All the companies looking for a distributor in that country will appear.

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m o c r. e d a tr re a c h lt a e lh a b lo .g w ww JOIN THESE COMPANIES USING GHT TO BUILD EXPORT SALES... Accora Aktiv Wheelchairs Alerta Medical American Ventures Apex Medical Better Living Care Bibbeta CR Manufacturing Capatex Careflex

Cefndy Healthcare Crest Medical Daily Care Dan Medica South Deutscher Healthcare Flexel Europe Go Mobility Handsteady Hospital Aids Hospital Direct

Mangar International MEDesign Moretti MSD Europe Neater Solutions NRS Healthcare OM Interactive Osprey Healthcare Performance Health International Promove

RIMEC Srl Scooterpac Simple Stuff Works Spectrum Healthcare Stiltz Lifts TGA Mobility Urathon Van Os Medical W Ball & Son Wallace Cameron

To discuss the opportunity, call 01536 710050


recruitment

Mobile Wheelchair Technician Gerald Simonds Healthcare Ltd. is looking to recruit a mobile service technician ideally based in the North West. This is a field based role and requires someone with a flexible approach, good organisational and interpersonal skills. There would be a considerable amount of driving involved so a clean driving licence would be required. A company van will be provided. Gerald Simonds is one of the UK’s leading suppliers and distributors of lightweight manual and power wheelchairs, cushions and pressure management seating. Our mission is to provide long term help to our customers, to enhance their health, mobility, comfort, dignity and quality of life by applying specialist knowledge to the provision of high quality products and services. This includes helping customers to look after and maintain their equipment. Duties will include: Arranging servicing and repair on our full range of manual and powered wheelchairs, add on power drives and scooters, usually to be carried out in the customer’s home. Communicating directly with Customers and taking responsibility for their service/repair needs Ordering spare parts required to carry out servicing and repair. Liaising with head office and sales team personnel as and when required Full training will be given to provide an in-depth understanding of our product range to ensure that the highest level of service is provided to both internal and external customers. Working hours are Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.30pm. Competitive salary. Please forward your CV for the attention of Emily Tomson at emily.tomson@gerald-simonds.co.uk 01296 380239 www.gerald-simonds.co.uk

Quantum Specialist North West and Ireland As a world leader in innovative powered wheelchair design and manufacture, a unique opportunity has arisen for someone with Passion, Energy, Drive and Ambition to join our successful Quantum Rehab Specialist team. This fantastic opportunity will require determination and focus, in return we offer: •

A competitive salary, details of remuneration will be discussed during the interview stage

Company vehicle

Plus many other benefits including product and control systems training

The successful candidate would ideally need to reside in the North-West territory and will be required to travel throughout the North West and Ireland, continuing to support our existing accounts, and look at new opportunities to develop the territory. The ideal candidate will be required to demonstrate their involvement in the assessments and provision of powered wheelchairs for a minimum of two years, whether this is through the retail or NHS sectors. Experience of power chair control systems and specialist seating is desirable but not essential as full training will be provided. For a full job specification or to send us your CV, please email tracy@pride-mobility.co.uk Closing date for applications: 26th January 2018

REGIONAL SALES EXECUTIVE NORTHERN (ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY) FULL TIME – HOME BASED COMPETITIVE SALARY AND BONUS PACKAGE This is a fantastic opportunity for an experienced sales executive with strong customer facing account management experience and proven sales. OwnFone Limited has significant expansion plans within the UK healthcare and public sectors and the successful candidate will have the opportunity to be part our exciting journey and develop within the company. The role will be home based with 70% of time spent in the field in a business development role and looking after existing customers. Whilst we expect you to work using your own initiative, the company has gained success from being a team that works together in always putting the customer first. Experience in the Healthcare and public sectors is desirable but not essential. What is essential is to be a driven individual who is comfortable with business development within a new technology channel. The sales process in this new channel can be lengthy so you will have the ability to nurture new relationships to point of sale and then ongoing account management.

RESPONSIBILITIES • • • • • • •

Manage key accounts within your region and achieve strategic account objectives Establish and maintain strong client relationships Work with Sales Director to develop sales strategy for your region Identify and approach new potential strategic customers Monitor sales performance against targets Produce monthly sales forecasts Assist at trade show events and other networking opportunities

REQUIREMENTS • Proven experience as an Key account manager • Solid sales experience in B2B environment • Excellent communication skills and aptitude for building strong client relationships • Strong negotiation skills with ability to problem solve • Knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite • Excellent attention to detail • Analytical and time management skills

Please send your CV and covering letter to sales@ownfone.com

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We are hiring! Sales Representative/Business Development based South of England (area cover south of River Thames) Do you want a new exciting opportunity in the mobility sector with an established and trusted business? We are recruiting a Sales Representative/Business Development professional who will be based in the south of England or South London You will have responsibility to promote our range of mobility technology and wheelchairs to end users and to mobility businesses. Self generation of sales enquiries is an essential criteria. You will have at least four years experience in field based sales in the mobility sector. Download the full job spec at www.johnpreston.co.uk/join-the-team Apply by forwarding CV to marketing@johnpreston.co.uk


trusted recruiter

Head of Mobility London-based - £40k Negotiable plus bonus Our client is a London-based specialist mobility supplier. They offer a range of powerchairs and mobility scooters throughout the South East of England. Having been established for 10 years and become a market leader in the industry, an excellent and unique opportunity has arisen for the right person. They are now looking to grow their mobility offering by taking on a Head of Mobility to oversee the mobility division, including four field-based assessors, and take the lead for all prescriptive enquiries. You will take ownership of specialist mobility enquiries that are passed on from the customer service team and offer your expert knowledge to understand the customer’s needs, in turn allocating this to an assessor or OT for assessment. Following the assessment, you will guide the customer through the prescription process, including offering quotations from the office, finally liaising with the manufacturers to produce the equipment. You will also provide after-sales technical support as necessary, assisting the workshop with diagnostics and technical problem-solving.

Product Adviser/Assessor Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, and Surrey - £30k to £32k with an OTE of £45k-£50k Our client is a manufacturer of disability living aids with a global presence and having been established for over 30 years. Their products include seating, standing, walking, toileting, and bathing aids. Due to genuine continued growth, they are now seeking a Product Adviser to promoted and sell their range of mobility/ disability products. Dealing with the NHS, local authorities, and schools. This will also involve carrying out product training and demonstrations with Occupational therapists and physiotherapists. This is a great opportunity to work for one of the fastest growing companies in the sector. Candidates from a background in sports science, Occupational Therapy or physiotherapy will be considered. As will those who have sold mobility / disability-related products into a Local Authorities and the NHS. Those with paediatric product experience will be highly advantageous. Salary between £30k to £32k with an OTE of £45k-£50k, company van, phone, tablet, pension. You will be paid commission on every sale! Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@ trustedrecruiter.co.uk including job reference 458 to discuss further.

While the role is primarily office-based, there will be the requirement to visit clients when assessments require more technical knowledge, for example, when special controls are needed for a powerchair. You will also work closely with the MD to launch new products and services in the mobility field as the company continues to expand. This is a big role for our client and you will be a key player in the business and the face of the mobility division. The ideal candidate will have specialist technical experience of working with powerchairs, for example, from a technical role within Wheelchair Services or from a dealer or manufacturer. You must have excellent communication and customer service skills, as well as a full UK driving licence. A base salary of £30k-£40k plus bonuses, pension, 20-days holiday plus bank holidays, rising 1 day for each additional year’s service. For more information, please send your CV to Antony@ trustedrecruiter.co.uk including reference: Thiis453

Product Assessor/Mobility Service Engineer London-based -Competitive salary Our client is a London-based mobility supplier. They offer a range of Powerchairs and Mobility Scooters throughout the South East of England, including on the Motability scheme. Having been established for 10 years and become a market leader in the industry, an opportunity has arisen for the right person. They are looking to take on a Mobility Service Engineer / Product Assessor to handle the supply and repair of mobility equipment. You will drive a company van, carrying out deliveries, collections, services and repairs, as well as demonstrations and assessments of basic mobility products for the Motability scheme. Customer service is crucial to our client, and it is therefore key that you are patient, have exemplary customer service skills and are capable of inspiring confidence in those that use our service. An ideal candidate will have experience of working with mobility scooters or powered wheelchairs, for example from a role within Wheelchair Services or from a dealer or manufacturer. You must be comfortable with dealing with customers, as you will be the face of the business. The ideal candidate has a full clean driving licence, and is local to South West London. You will also be required to submit information for a DBS check.A competitive salary, pension, 20 days holiday plus bank holidays. Please submit your CV confidentially to antony@trustedrecruiter. co.uk to discuss further including job reference Thiis455

www.thiis.co.uk | 73


training

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 info@thiis.co.uk with any details you have. December 2017 Invacare - Robin Overhead Hoist – December 1st 2017 – Pencoed FOC

CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 17th – Thursday 18th January 2018 - Benmor Medical, Houghton-leSpring, Tyne and Wear

Invacare – Bed Servicing & Maintenance – December 5th 2017 - Pencoed – FOC

Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - January 29 2018 - Belfry Hotel & Spa, Sutton Coldfields

Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 5th – Thursday 6th December 2017 Benmor Medical, Liss, Hampshire

Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Tuesday 30th – Wednesday 31st January 2018 Benmor Medical, Liss, Hampshire

Invacare – Servicing & Maintenance of Patient Lifters – December 7th 2017 - Pencoed - FOC

February 2018

Invacare – Servicing & Maintenance of Patient Lifters – December 8th 2017 - Pencoed - FOC Invacare – LiNX training – December 14th 2017 - Pencoed – FOC Invacare – LiNX training – December 15th 2017 - Pencoed - FOC

January 2018 Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – Wednesday 10th – Thursday 11th January 2018 Benmor Medical, Market Harborough Benmor Medical -  Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient

Pride Mobility - Service Training February 21st & 22nd – Bicester

April 2018 Electric Mobility – Servicing / Maintenance & Fault finding for Rascal Mobility Products – April 11th 2018 - Ilminster. FOC including Lunch. Pride Mobility - Service Training – April 25th & 26th – Bicester Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - April 26th Weetwood Hall Hotel, Leeds

Sunrise Medical - JCM Postural Management Workshop: Specialist Seating – February 6th 2018 Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Sunrise Medical - JCM Technical Training – February 7th 2018 Sunrise Medical, Brierley Hill Electric Mobility – Servicing / Maintenance & Fault finding for Rascal Mobility Products – February 7th 2018 Ilminster. FOC including Lunch Careflex - What A Difference A Chair Makes (OTAC) - February 7th 2018 -Hallmark The Queen Hotel, Chester

Contacts for bookings Benmor Medical – Contact Sophie Allen – 0333 800 9000 – sophie. allen@benmormedical.co.uk.

Pride Mobility – sales@pridemobility.co.uk or contact: 01869 324600

Invacare – Call Joan James on 01656 776283 or email jjames@ invacare.com

Electric Mobility – Call 01460 258158 or email marketing@ electricmobility.co.uk

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JCM – Contact Rachel Davis on training@jcmfactory.co.uk Careflex – Call Julieanne Fewings on 01626 831 843 or email julieanne. fewings@careflex.co.uk


CR

A

CR

D

TES T E SH

D

A

TES T E SH

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THIIS December 2017  

In the December issue of THIIS, we catch up with retailer Aid and Enable to find out how one article changed the future of the business. Thi...