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Also inside... Innovation push ISSUE 269 FEBRUARY 2021

MDR insights


Essential help or hindrance

Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Family fortunes Why keeping together and staying local is the key to success for one Devonshire firm

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From the editor

Meet the THIIS team...

Are you looking after yourself? It certainly is not the start to the year that many had hoped for. 2021 kicked off with a third lockdown as a new variant of COVID-19 spread across the UK. With schools closed, stay-at-home orders issued and many would-be customers shielding, mobility retailers again find themselves with the difficult decision of whether to remain open or not. Additionally, some retailers have reported some difficulty accessing government business support grants, as the industry has been classified as essential. In this issue, five leading mobility retailers discuss whether the classification has helped or hindered the mobility retail sector. At the end of January, a worrying report into the mental health of SME business owners warned of a looming crisis. Four in five of the 765 respondents said the pandemic had negatively impacted their mental health. More worrying, 19 per cent admitted being in a ‘bad’ place mentally. Impacts included business owners being unable to switch off, having lower confidence and having worse relationships with friends and family. In addition, business owners said they were demotivated to work, with one in five confirming that they had fallen out of love with their business or the industry they work in. The causes will come as no surprise to many readers: Financial concerns being number one, closely followed by the inability to see friends and family, uncertainty around the viability of their businesses and stress. Also, some SME owners noted feelings of loneliness and isolation, as well as a lack of physical exercise. Unfortunately, it makes for grim reading. For the mobility sector, it is a stark reminder that for business owners focused on the health of

their vulnerable customers, it is equally important to ensure the health of themselves and their staff. Throughout the pandemic, this industry has shown remarkable resilience, going above and beyond to support end-users and the wider health and social care system – enabling hospitals to discharge patients quicker, people to return home and care homes to accept more people. That resilience, however, has its limits. Recognising that and taking the appropriate action when it feels like it is reaching the threshold is crucial. It is also important to look to the positives. In particular, the vaccine rollout programme, which seems to be going smoothly - at the time of writing, 6,853,327 people have received the first dose. Undoubtedly, there will be more hurdles for business owners to contend with and overcome in the months ahead, however, hopefully, things are now moving in the right direction as we head towards the warmer months. Lastly, I want to take this opportunity to let readers know that this will be my final ‘From the editor’ piece. From March 2021 onwards, the torch will be handed over to THIIS’ new editor, Liane McIvor. From now on, she will be the one to keep you informed and entertained with engaging and insightful content – I am sure you will all give her the same warm welcome to the industry as was shown to me. Thank you for all the support shown to me by our readers, contributors and advertisers over the year. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to write for THIIS and I am confident the best is yet to come.

Calvin Barnett Editor

Editorial Director Calvin Barnett 07741 641702 calvin@thiis.co.uk

Editor Liane McIvor 07917 784929 liane@thiis.co.uk

Advertising Joe Fahy 07384 258 372 joe.fahy@bhtaengage.com

Sub-editor Sarah Sarsby sarah@thiis.co.uk

THIIS is produced by BHTA Engage, Office 404, Tower Bridge Business centre, 46-48 E Smithfield, Whitechapel, London E1W 1AW 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.

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British Healthcare Trades Show EU MDR insights Retailer Spotlight: Coastline Mobility Trade thoughts Supplier Spotlight: Ypush

News, deals and people Retailers Choice: Walking aids Let’s get it clear The OTs Perspective Retailers’ Buyers Guide



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News, deals & people

A round-up of the key trade stories for business leaders to digest

Scam alert as mobility companies targeted

Industry pioneers confirm retirement Sheffield-based Jenx has announced the retirement of company co-founders Clive and Catherine Jenkins. Forming the company from their cellar back in 1982, the entrepreneurial couple have overseen Jenx’s impressive growth. It now employs over 200 people, trades internationally and has transformed the lives of thousands of children. “At times like this, it almost feels as though you can’t do it [retire], as you don’t want to just walk away, but it’s important for Jenx as a company to adapt and change and to allow the next generation to refresh things and move the business forward,” said Clive. Holly Jenkins, Director of Jenx’s UK Distribution Division, Jiraffe, will now spearhead a new management team at the Sheffield-based firm, alongside fellow Director, Dan Limb.

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The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) has alerted the industry to remain vigilant after at least seven of its members were targeted by scammers. The alarm was raised after one of the trade association’s stairlift members was contacted by an individual purporting to be a high court enforcement officer. According to the company, the scammer informed the company that a debt was owed to HRMC and was about to be the subject of a high court writ. The individual claimed he was ringing to give the company the option to trigger a protest and pay the amount owed to the court solicitors. The scammer was described as highly persuasive, going as far as to impersonate a genuine bailiff, name-dropping a genuine solicitor, alongside citing a debt recovery agency which HMRC do use.

Public procurement reform The Cabinet Office has outlined plans to overhaul procurement rules in a new green paper, cutting red tape and making it easier for SMEs to win government contracts. Specific changes to the rules proposed include removing over 300 complex regulations to create a single uniform rulebook; replacing inflexible and complex procedures with three simple modern procedures; and allowing buyers to include wider social benefits of the supplier when assessing who to award a contract to. The changes are also set to give buyers the power to exclude bidders who have failed to deliver in the past. In addition, a new rule enabling the public sector to ‘Buy British’ for contracts not subject to international trade rules has been put forward.

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Repose Furniture joins Prism Healthcare group Prism Healthcare – the group holding company encompassing subsidiaries including Prism Medical UK, Smirthwaite and Harvest Healthcare – has added a new company to its stable with the purchase of Repose Furniture. Family-owned for over two decades, the West Midlandsbased specialist seating manufacturer was founded by John Elcocks in 1999. Eventually, his daughter, Lisa Wardley, took over as managing director. Under Prism Healthcare, Repose will form a sister company with Harvest Healthcare, a specialist in mattresses and moving and handling equipment, which was acquired in December 2019. Prism Healthcare confirmed that Lisa Wardley will continue to lead the Repose teams and will now report to Neil Davis, Managing Director of Harvest Healthcare. A statement from Repose added that its existing senior management team will also continue in their current roles, with John Elcocks remaining to develop products alongside David Elcocks for the first 12 months.

Repose MD Lisa Wardley

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Could retailers be set for an insurance windfall? A landmark judgement by the UK Supreme Court on 15 January 2021 has resulted in thousands of small businesses being able to have their claims for COVID-related business interruption losses paid out. It follows a test case brought by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in June 2020, with eight insurers agreeing to take part to seek clarity regarding business interruption insurance policy wordings and whether they apply to the coronavirus pandemic. While the majority of SMEs’ business interruption policies only offer basic cover for business interruption as a consequence of property damage, some also included business interruption for other causes. In particular, some covered infectious or notifiable diseases and prevention of access and public authority closures or restrictions. However, the insurance industry largely adopted the position that business interruption policies did not apply to the ensuing pandemic. In September 2020, the High Court judged that some of the disputed claims should have been paid out by insurers. After a fast-tracked appeal to the Supreme Court, the UK’s final court of appeal largely upheld the High Court’s September judgement and substantially found in favour of policyholders. As a result, eligible mobility retailers are set to receive pay outs from their insurers for COVID-19 business interruption which had previously been denied.

ABC Mobility Group welcome Brig-Ayd Controls to the family ABC Mobility Group acquired Hertfordshire-based Brig-Ayd Controls, a manufacturer and supplier of a wide range of aids for disabled drivers and passengers. The purchase sees Brig-Ayd Controls join other ABC Mobility companies, including The Adaptation Installation Company, Autochair, Chris Elliot Adaptions, City Motor Services, DS&P Services and Mobility Innovations LLC. Matthew Walker, Managing Director of ABC Mobility Group, said: “The acquisition will help the group to continue to develop adaptation solutions in the rapidly evolving hybrid and electric vehicle market whilst also adopting the new standards and audit requirements within the UK and European industry.” The company confirmed Brig-Ayd Controls will continue to operate independently from its Welwyn Garden City site and all existing staff will remain with the business. Matthew added: “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to Owen and Denise Briggs for their many years of dedicated service as directors of the business and wish them a long and happy retirement.”

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GNG Group appoints new Group Managing Director GNG Group has announced that Darren Potterton has been promoted to the permanent post of Group Managing Director, following an internal promotion from his position as Managing Director for the Healthcare Division. As a result of this change, former MD Philip Whittell has taken up the reins as Chairman of the Wakefieldbased medical-grade pressure relief seating and mattresses manufacturer. Philip said: “We are delighted that Darren has accepted this

Darren Potterton (right), the new Group Managing Director at GNG Group with Phil Whittell (left), GNG Chairman

position; during the last 12 months he has worked exceptionally hard, along with the whole GNG team, to achieve great results and offer vital support to the NHS supply chain. “He will bring his enthusiasm,

Ability Matters report clarifies retail retrenchment Ability Matters Group’s annual report has given insight into its decision to close the majority of its mobility retail outlets in 2019. The report revealed the group enjoyed success for the year ended 31 October 2019, with a 26 per cent rise in turnover to £62.3 million. The increase was largely attributed to contract gains in the NHS service business, as well as to increased product sales to third parties both in the UK and overseas. During the year, the company also closed the majority of its retail outlets – Manchester, Huddersfield, Oxford, Harrow, Newport Pagnell and Bletchley – in order to focus on its core clinical services contracts, stated the report. Ability Matter’s mobility retail operations’ achieved revenues of £1.2 million and pre-tax profits of £79k in 2018. In 2019, it reported sales of £792k and a pre-tax loss of £217k, with costs relating to the closures amounting to £140k. Despite this, the group saw its total pre-tax profit increase for 2019 by 15 per cent to £2.5 million for 2019.

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knowledge and vast experience to help GNG move forward to a new chapter of growth and success and to keep innovation and opportunities at the forefront of our business.”

Rehasense reaches out to retailers As part of its planned growth in 2021, Rehasense UK has declared it is looking to increase its UK retailer network this year. It follows an investment by the company in growing its brand recognition throughout the pandemic, explained Lee French, Managing Director at Rehasense UK. “2020 was a challenging year for us all and as we move into 2021 it would appear the challenges are going to continue although hopefully only in the short term until the vaccine takes effect combined with the recently announced increased restrictions,” he said. “Despite this, we have continued to increase awareness of the Rehasense brand here in the UK and as part of our plans for 2021 we are looking to appoint new retailers throughout the UK.” The company is set to launch several new products to the UK market this year and can now offer a 24-hour delivery services Lee French, MD of Rehasense to all retailers.

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In partnership with...

The show goes on… Following the disappointing news that the British Healthcare Trade Show (BHTS) has had to be postponed, the organisers have announced a new date in April 2021. Delivered in partnership with THIIS, Promoting Independence and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), BHTS aims to bring members of the mobility, access and assistive technology sector together after 12 months of business disruption. Initially set to take place in early February 2021, the show was required to be rescheduled following the government’s third national lockdown announcement on 4 January 2021. Determined to ensure the show takes place during the all-important spring months for many mobility retailers and suppliers, BHTS will now be held on 22 April 2021 at the same venue as before: Weetwood Hall Estate, Leeds. Held over one day, BHTS will provide a trade-exclusive space where industry retailers, installers and distributors can freely meet to network and talk business with suppliers and manufacturers in a safe, relaxed and secure environment. With the ongoing pandemic and

rapidly evolving situation, however, the organisers have confirmed that they are closely monitoring the state of affairs and will respond rapidly to new information coming out from the government. It is expected that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will release a road map document in February, providing more information regarding the end of lockdown and what comes after it. After the government committed to vaccinate the top four priority groups by 15 February 2021, the industry is expecting to see a significant number of its key consumer demographics vaccinated ahead of the warmer summer months. The event is the ideal launchpad for companies to showcase new products to trade buyers, helping kick-start the mobility sector’s recovery. The show’s principal sponsor, Motion Healthcare, a specialist in innovative powered mobility products, welcomed the postponement announcement. Tim Mills, Head of Business for Motion Healthcare, commented: “This is wonderful news and we are glad to hear that the show has been rescheduled to still take place in the spring.

“After a significantly disrupted winter, making the most of the approaching summer months will be absolutely essential for the industry. BHTS will play a vital role in helping to kick-start that recovery so Motion remains fully committed to continuing to support the show. “We are excited to see all of our industry peers at the show and look forward to having muchmissed face-to-face meetings with customers, new and old.” To attend the show in April, visit the BHTS website and register for a free pass. britishhealthcaretradeshow.co.uk

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Retailer’s Choice: Triumph Walker from Uniscan “Our retailer’s choice this month is the Triumph Walker from Uniscan. This British-made walker offers customers great stability and manoeuvrability, helping them to remain independent. “The Triumph Walker is lightweight, portable and easy to use. It features height-adjustable handles, which are easy to alter and ensure the perfect posture is achieved when walking. Not only supportive when walking, the Triumph also features a comfortable, padded, integral seat, so customers can stop and rest if they feel they need to. “Ideal for use both indoors and outside, the Triumph can be easily folded for transport, ensuring you can take it with you on days out. The added benefits of puncture-proof tyres, walking stick holder, shopping caddy and one-touch locking lever-brakes, means this walker is a firm favourite with our customers. “Made from high-quality aluminium, this walker is light yet surprisingly strong and is available in a range of colours.” www.ableworld.co.uk

Ceri Dixon Marketing Manager of Ableworld

Retailer’s Choice: Zoom Rollator from One Rehab “Another stylish and value-adding product from the team at One Rehab. “Ever since the Zoom rollator was introduced to us in early 2019, it has formed an integral part of our walking aid portfolio. The trade price point is very attractive and offers a good margin return whilst delivering real value to customers. “The Zoom walks the walk and talks the talk in every sense: it’s very attractive in design and robust in build. Its many features, such as easy storage and its quick-release wheels with locking arthritic loop brakes, lightweight design with quick handle height adjustment and its wide backrest support gives plenty of comfort and peace of mind to the user. “We are very impressed with this piece of kit and look forward to working with it in 2021. And, as you would expect from the One Rehab team, the supply chain for parts etc. is slick and efficient. “The Zoom would be a great addition to any retailer’s walking aid portfolio.” www.mobilityscotlandltd.co.uk

Billy Finnie Operations Manager of Mobility Scotland

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Retailer’s Choice: Gepard Carbon Fibre Rollator from Flexel Mobility “The Flexel Mobilex Gepard Carbon Fibre Rollator is easily by far the walking aid at the forefront of the essential walking aid market. The Gepard has a unique five kilogram weight and comes in two sizes, with petite users being the predominant market for this rollator. “It has been a vastly popular edition to our showroom stock in both Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire. There are simple features that this rollator offers

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which are unique to their brand and significantly impact the user. The straightforward capability to securely clip together when folded means it is more manageable to manoeuvre over and around obstacles and in and out of vehicles. “Also, being able to alter the handle height quickly, both in client user and during assessments, is essential. The Gepard has numbers which can be referenced to ensure the handles are both an even height and set to the user’s correct height every time it is used. “The height-adjustable handles also help in environments with less space, with the handles able to retract and reduce the rollator’s surface area, making it simple to get out of the car to mobilise with. “The look is impressive! With the carbon fibre-style framework

and alloy-looking wheels, the rollator takes on a sportier and more fashionable look than more clinical-looking rollators available today. It is often that clientele want to express their style if they require any mobility product, with many other rollators opting for a range of bright colours to give users choice. This is often not required, however, as clients will pay for a subtle yet stylish design.” www.recare.co.uk

Annie HollandOakes Marketing Manager of Recare



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Retailer’s Choice: StairSteady from StairSteady “Stairs – and the difficulties they create for anyone with mobility problems – is one of the topics frequently discussed by customers visiting the Fortuna showroom. So, when we first became aware of StairSteady, I immediately knew it would be successful. “This product is an innovative yet simple walking aid made up of a handrail attached to the wall and a handle that locks in position when weight is applied. The latter is held with both hands by the user and moves freely as they walk up or down the stairs, providing good support and stability. Anyone using a rollator around the home will benefit from using a StairSteady. “Customers report that they feel safe while using this product because the sturdy handle lets them have both hands in front of them as they climb or descend the stairs at their own pace. For many, it has brought greater independence by enabling them to use the stairs more frequently without help. “Because the concept of the StairSteady is so simple, it’s ideal for most homes and takes up far less space than the average stairlift. Meanwhile everyone is impressed by being able to fold the handle neatly away (once they’ve used it), so it doesn’t spoil the look of their home. “I’ve yet to meet anyone who isn’t impressed with this product. It’s definitely one of the best mobility aids out there!”

Elaine Ferguson Mobility Services Manager of Fortuna Mobility


Retailer’s Choice: Indoor Rollator from Rollz “The TPG walking aid of choice that has stood out for us this year is the Indoor Rollator from Rollz. “Whilst there are many rollators on the market in various colours and styles, the Rollz range takes it to another level of high-quality, innovative mobility solutions. “We particularly like the way the indoor rollator can fit through narrow spaces, can be used to replace toilet support bars and can get really close to countertops in the kitchen. The cables are concealed and the seat is removable. “Indeed, the whole range has innovation built in. Whilst never going to be a massive volume seller, we feel the obvious high-quality with this range will tempt the more discerning customer who wants the best.” www.tpg-disableaids.co.uk

Alastair Gibbs Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

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EU MDR insights: How do Economic Operators play a part in ensuring compliance of medical equipment? By Beth Crandall, Managing Director, Global Solutions Delivery Leader at RQM+ With the Economic Operators now sharing responsibility for compliance, medical device safety is improved through the addition of further checks along a product’s journey before reaching

Beth Crandall is a respected leader who brings over 15 years of experience in the life sciences industry, specialising in the regulated medical device market. Beth also possesses a strong background of leading large quality system programs and implementing changes to related policies, procedures and systems.

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In Europe, wheelchairs and other mobility aids can only be placed on the market if they fulfil the necessary regulatory requirements. Under the previous medical device directives, manufacturers were the primary party responsible for the compliance of their products. Now, under the EU Medical Device Regulation (EU MDR), additional stakeholders share in the compliance responsibility. In addition to Manufacturers, the regulation now specifies expectations for ‘Economic Operators’ a term that encompasses distributors, importers and authorised representatives. Each of the Economic Operator (EO) entities now have specific regulatory requirements they must meet under the new regulation.

the end-user. This is intended to protect the consumer from issues such as damaged or counterfeit products being placed on the market. People with mobility impairments and services related to healthcare, independent living and rehabilitation should have increased confidence that their products are safe and effective. It is critical that each entity involved in placing medical equipment on the market understands and implements their specific requirements. The delay of the EU MDR deadline to May 26, 2021, announced in April 2020, was therefore a welcome development for the industry, providing companies with additional time to prepare. SHARED LEGAL LIABILITY The most significant change in terms of responsibilities is the sharing of compliance and legal liability across the entire supply chain. Except for distributors, all other EO entities are jointly and severally liable for device compliance under the EU MDR.

One noncompliant entity can therefore have direct legal implications on the rest. Each EO should have a clear overview of their own and shared responsibilities – while

manufacturers should take on the overarching responsibility of ensuring their entire supply chain of EOs is compliant to ensure their products encounter no disruptions before reaching market. The first step for manufacturers is to map out the supply chain and identify each EO according to Article 2 of the EU MDR. In this way, they will be able to verify the responsibilities of each EO and ensure their capacity to fulfil these obligations. DOCUMENT VERIFICATION Although it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to establish and maintain Declarations of Conformity and obtain CE marking certification, each EO will now play a part in verifying these elements. Authorised Representatives (AR) and importers,, for instance, will be charged with checking that the manufacturer has complied with its registration obligations. In fact, the AR’s

mandate must include verification of the Manufacturer’s Declaration of Conformity and copies of technical documentation and relevant certificates. Given that

the AR’s mandate may be requested at any point by the Competent Authority, it is essential that access to these documents is ensured by both parties at all times. This crosschecking between entities helps to establish a higher degree of recordkeeping and reporting. LABELLING CHECKS Importers and distributors must respect manufacturer guidelines relating to the storage, maintenance and transport of products. For their part, distributors must ensure that each device contains Instructions for Use (IFUs), a CE mark, a Declaration of Conformity and, once implemented and if applicable, information relating to products’ Unique Device Identification details. In addition to these responsibilities, importers, must check that devices are labelled correctly according to regulations and match their IFUs. Lastly, they must ensure that device labelling allows for importer identification and includes their name, registered trade name or trademark, registered place of business and address for contact. Some importers may also function as distributors, but this is not always the case. For companies falling under both categories, the responsibilities ascribed to both entities will need to be assumed. NON-CONFORMANCES AND PRODUCT RECALLS Under the EU MDR, each entity must follow a formal process if they identify non-conforming products or vigilance incidents. For instance, should importers identify a non-conforming device, they must have a system in place to notify the manufacturer, the Authorised Representative, and the Competent Authority. Furthermore, the Authorized Representative and the manufacturer’s appointed Person Responsible for Regulatory Compliance must have mechanisms in place to prevent a product from reaching the market or to halt distribution if needed.

EUDAMED REGISTRATION The manufacturer, importer and AR must also be registered in EUDAMED, the European database for medical devices. Full implementation of EUDAMED has been postponed to 2022, but individual modules are gradually being made available in advance. Entities should proactively gather the necessary data for EUDAMED registration, and continually monitor developments. The first of six modules – the Actor Registration module – was launched December 2020. This module allows Economic Operators to submit the information necessary to obtain a single registration number (SRN). The SRN guarantees EU-wide unique identification for EOs. STRENGTHENED SUPPLY CHAIN COMPLIANCE Under the EU MDR, thorough compliance monitoring of mobility aid devices throughout their journey along the supply chain will help to ensure a higher level of safety. Given the unprecedented changes that the regulation represents for all industry stakeholders, companies may want to consider reaching out to external experts for support and guidance on establishing a compliant network of EOs. With just a few months to go until the EU MDR deadline, manufacturers and their EOs must take action now if they haven’t already, as non-compliance could have a real impact on the people and services that depend on access to mobility products. For greater detail on the new responsibilities for Economic Operators required by the EU MDR, download a free copy of RQM+’s dedicated paper here: http://bit.ly/2SU1nlx www.rqmplus.com

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The Sidmouth store boasts an award-winning mobility rental service

Coastline Mobility: It’s a family affair Matt and Georgina Gerry may be relatively new to the mobility industry but both say that they have always felt close to it growing up. Their dad Steve spent over 30 years in the industry managing a large chain and later running his own successful mobility company. After retiring a few years ago, Steve and wife Jo agreed to help their children with a new

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business. Now as Managing Director of Devonshire-based Coastline Mobility, Matt manages the business’ three stores with the support of other members of the family. KEEPING IN THE FAMILY Everybody works in the shop, says Matt. “We’re all customer-facing people.” Georgina, Matt’s sister, is

Since opening its first store a couple of years ago, familyowned Coastline Mobility has certainly been making waves in Devon. THIIS sat down with Managing Director Matt Gerry and Shop Manager Georgina Gerry to find out some of the secrets to its rapid success…

Shop Manager, as well as being in charge of the business’ advertising, marketing and social media presence. Based at Coastline Mobility’s Sidmouth store, Georgina handles all of the phone calls and emails that come in and works alongside her mum Jo, who takes care of the company’s accounts and helps with the ordering of small aids. Dad


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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT “We were looking at a couple of places for shops but the premises presented itself and we couldn’t turn it down. It was the perfect position, the perfect costing – and just made for us.”

A representative from Rehasense pays Matt and Georgina a visit at the Exmouth store during opening week

Steve is in charge of innovation. “This is where his past experience has really helped,” says Matt. “He’s got a very good idea of where the mobility industry is going, so he brings that to the table in terms of group discussions. He also heads up the larger accounts and the ordering of large stock, like scooters and chairs.” Matt is involved with the dayto-day running of the business, managing staff and generally being the figurehead of the company. “I’ve got a lot of experience with the products,” he highlights, “so any time a product comes in I vet them and [if they’re the right fit] give them the green light.” A WALK TO REMEMBER Coastline Mobility’s story began in May 2019. “We were walking through Sidmouth and we noticed the mobility shop was shutting

down,” says Matt. “We saw the opportunity to open our own mobility shop because we knew that we could do it well as a family. We approached the landlord, took out a lease and then formed the company.” Things moved along quickly after that. After the previous business moved out, the family moved in about a week later. For Matt, who has a background in business development and project management, the shop in Sidmouth was his first hands-on experience of mobility retail. A second store opening in nearby Budleigh Salterton a few months later in August was a “natural progression”, says Matt. “As a family, we have got quite strong roots in Budleigh. Our great uncle was a Catholic priest there for 50 years and, as a family, we have always been local.

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FLAGSHIP STORE OPENING The third Coastline Mobility store opened in Exmouth in September 2020. Good things, they say, come in threes, but the process of opening this store wasn’t without its difficulties. The shop needed a complete renovation – from flooring, wiring and plumbing to replacing the shop frontage – and was supposed to have opened in March. Everything was good to go, explains Matt, then Covid struck. As a result of the pandemic forcing businesses to shut down, everything was delayed. “We wanted the store to be in keeping with the current design we have so it did need a lot of work to get it to that standard,” continues Matt. As the flagship store, attention to detail was a must, as was getting that all-important ‘wow factor’. A static boot hoist display was to be the store’s focal point and this needed to be planned into the renovation, he explains. “We wanted to put a car boot up against the wall to demonstrate boot hoists and how to get scooters into the back of a car.” To get that car boot in, it needed to be put up before the shop’s exterior walls went up, Matt explains, but the final result was definitely worth it. “We have even wired it up so that the back lights light up as if the car is still whole.” The Exmouth store offers a full range of mobility products, he states. “It’s a much bigger shop

in terms of shop floor space and it allows us to hold certain products that we can’t hold in the other shops. “We do the full range of scooters, starting from the folding scooters and boot scooters, all the way up to Class 3’s. We do chairs, both fireside and rise & recline, beds and sofas. We do a whole set of rollators, the carbon fibre ones and the forearm walkers, as well as wheelchairs and small aids.” Each of the stores offer something a little bit different and has a different clientele, notes Matt. “We’ve decided to push our footwear into the Budleigh premises. We work closely with chiropodists in the area there so it’s natural to have that as our shoe shop essentially.” The Sidmouth store is focused around holidaymakers, he says. “We get a lot of holidaymakers wanting to buy things while they’re here, so in terms of the products there’s a lot of rentals, second-hand stock and travel scooters.” It is clearly a formula that works after the store recently won a Prestige Award for having the best mobility rental service in the South West.

MOVING ON UP The industry newcomers say that they have experienced rapid growth since launching their first shop in 2019. There are a few reasons for this, explains Matt. First, there’s no doubt that the local demographic has worked well for the business, with many retirees drawn to East Devon’s seaside lifestyle. This, in turn, has brought a lot of wealth to the area. Says Matt: “The national average for over-60s is much higher here than the rest of the country and there is a lot more disposable income here, which shows in the sales we’ve had over this past year.” The fact that Coastline Mobility is a family-run business is another factor in its favour, adds Matt. “It’s the honesty and trustworthiness you get with the family business. You can follow through on a lot of things that a lot of big businesses can’t. “If there is an issue, such as a delay with a product, we’re open and honest about it. I think people appreciate that. We get a lot of repeat business from people who keep coming back because they believe in us.”

The local mayor officially opens the Exmouth store

A static car boot hoist display offers an interesting focal point at the Exmouth store

Having the experienced feedback from their dad about what works well in the mobility business has also been crucial, points out Matt. “My dad’s previous role in the industry involved visiting every mobility shop in the country and grading them based on whether his company would want to work with them. He could see what was working and what wasn’t and I think that gives us a good advantage because that has been impressed upon us in taking on the business.” Georgina agrees: “Growing up, it was deep rooted in Matt and I that customers aren’t just customers. You need to care about them and give them the treatment that you would want if you were in their position.” GOING THE EXTRA MILE Having that connection with people is key and the business has a good local name as a result. Says Matt: “It is about building that trust factor with people. What matters is not so much the product but approaching people on their level and connecting with them. It’s about finding the right product for them and not the thing they thought they wanted necessarily.”

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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT “In terms of costs, we try and set ourselves under internet prices anyway so we’re very competitive. Even if we had to have a price increase, I don’t see it being a huge concern for a lot of our customers.” Georgina adds: “The whole family would also like to take this opportunity to especially thank all of our suppliers for their advice and continued support.”

The exterior of Coastline Mobility’s Budleigh Salterton store

“We only stock products that we really believe in,” adds Georgina, who handles customer enquiries by phone or email. “Our ethos is that if we don’t stock the item and are really unable to source it, we won’t miss-sell an item; we will always endeavour to get the right item for the customer.” One of the key ways Coastline Mobility builds that trust is by offering customers an emergency out-of-hours number in case anything goes wrong with their products. Having a shop manager living within a mile of each shop means that if there is an out-of-hours call, a team member is always available close by to help out. Georgina says: “Our biggest fear is if an elderly person is out on a mobility scooter at 6 o’clock in the evening and it breaks down. Many of them don’t have family close by and they would be stuck. With our emergency number, they can get in touch and we can get to them. We also have a good servicing department on-hand to fix any issues.” RETAIL CHALLENGES As a bricks and mortar business, Coastline Mobility has struggled with the reduction in footfall as a result of the Covid pandemic, says Matt. “In the current situation, our customers don’t want to wear PPE and they are worried about going out. That, in turn, prevents them from visiting a shop, so we have seen massive changes in terms of the areas we cover. “The distance between Exmouth

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and Sidmouth is not far at all but the people that would come to our Exmouth shop wouldn’t come out to our Sidmouth shop, and vice versa, so the footfall aspect has been hindered a lot.” The business has also seen a massive change in the type of customer who enters their shops. Georgina and Matt say that in the past year, they have seen a greater increase in the number of customers’ children who come in to enquire about products. Georgina explains: “In these cases, it’s about explaining things to them in a way that they can then reiterate to their parents.” The vaccine rollout, however, could soon turn things around, and Georgina says that the family are feeling positive for this year. “Due to our demographic, we expect a lot of our clientele to be vaccinated. A lot of our customers have been stuck inside for a long time so hopefully they will come out and be excited to shop with us. We do think the second and third quarters of this year will be an exceptional time for us.” The possibility of Brexit disrupting trade is not a major concern, Matt says. “We’ve got enough space that we can store a huge amount of stock so if we don’t get anything in we can manage on the stock that we have while we’ve got orders coming in. “We’re finding that even during lockdown, a lot of manufacturers have been staying open. “We’ve got a lot of orders for furniture, like beds, that are still being delivered.

FUTURE AMBITIONS Covid-19 may have put the breaks on the business’ store expansion plans for now but Matt is optimistic for the future of the business, with plans to have six or seven stores in total. “We did set out a road map for shops but with Covid, that has been prevented,” says Matt. “We opened up our Budleigh shop after six months and then we were supposed to have opened up our Exmouth shop after six months, which would have gone ahead, apart from Covid. When things get back on track, we plan to open another one up in a new area.” The new shops will enable the business to diversify its product range further, by introducing more wheelchairs, bespoke items and medically-specific products. And one thing’s for sure: Coastline Mobility’s stores will all stay in Devon, says Matt. “We can’t lose our key ingredient, which is the familyrun aspect and staying local. You can impart that on staff as long as you’re there to maintain it.” There’s only one problem with that, laughs Georgina. “We’re running out of family!” www.coastlinemobility.com

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Trade Thoughts Trade thoughts: Has being classed as ‘essential’ helped or hindered the mobility retail sector during this lockdown? Unfortunately, greeting the industry after Christmas and New Year was the third national lockdown. Unlike the pre-Christmas lockdown, lockdown three shares a lot of the hallmarks of last spring’s one. Unlike the first lockdown, however, mobility retailers in England have been classed as ‘essential’ this time and are allowed to keep showrooms open. With many would-be customers shielding during what is the industry’s traditionally quieter period, has being classed as ‘essential’ helped or hindered the mobility retail sector?

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Mike Williams

Billy Finnie

Managing Director of Ableworld

Operations Manager of Mobility Scotland

It certainly hasn’t hindered the situation; at long last, we have all been recognised for the good the vast majority of us try to do in the community. Our industry has helped to support the NHS and care homes and other vital services, ensuring the public can have the products they desperately need and get the vulnerable back into their homes. “Plus, it stopped some local bureaucrats questioning why we were open. “None of us like the current situation but we are in a caring industry and the products we sell assist the community. However, the pandemic has certainly hit sales and customer flow so the support of the furlough system has certainly been of great help. “I realise the recognition of “essential” has stopped some getting grants for closing their business but we can’t have it both ways. Most people’s marketing claims they are in the care sector and how caring their businesses are. A small minority of those now want to close their stores, leaving the customers ‘high and dry’, then claiming government support – coming from all of us. “I am clearly on the side of the classification that has helped our industry being recognised.

Scotland was somewhat different to England with this judgement - retailers were not considered essential and expected to fall into line with the general lockdown rules; you can imagine the incredulity of many of the retailers. However, many conscientious and committed businesses continued to be there to deliver safe, secure assistance to their customers in times of need. “This lack of awareness and foresight on the Scottish Government’s part didn’t help and led to retailers running the risk of being booked for COVID breaches as we attended emergency repairs and breakdowns. “Over the month of January, we had nine call-outs, all of which came from vulnerable users relating to critical equipment. In every instance, we needed to deliver a response and the customer absolutely needed our help. The government will need to get this right and allow us to prepare a support programme we can confidently and, importantly, legally deliver. “On top of the breakdown issues, there were also a number of stairlift enquiries which we took on board and installed, despite the rules, as these lifts helped facilitate quick hospital discharges. This type of work reinforces the need for mobility retailers in lockdown to be able to operate as close to normal as possible, being there to add value and support the fight against COVID.

Matt Mohr

Alastair Gibbs

Richard Holland-Oakes

Managing Director of Kent Mobility

Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Managing Director of Recare

Being classed as essential has certainly been of benefit to not only ourselves but the clinicians and customers who rely on us to provide equipment. Being able to generate income at this time is most welcome from a commercial perspective – that is, of course, if customers are willing to see you. “It’s one thing being able to open the doors but it’s another thing if no one is walking through them. Unlike the first lockdown, we have found that many customers are willing to see us still – yes, there have been cancellations but the diaries are still active. “There are certain products that are difficult for customers to delay in purchasing because of the role they play in their daily lives and it is those products we see least impacted by lockdown. “Some products can wait from the customer’s perspective and, as such, that side of the business has slowed down. “We all want to expose ourselves to the least amount of risk in relation to COVID so it only makes sense. With flexi furlough, businesses are able to adjust their operational ability and costs according to the workload so that has been a huge help.

The ‘essential’ classification for our industry is, without doubt, a doubleedged sword. “On the positive side, it does mean we can continue to offer a service to our customers and play a part in keeping them safely out of institutional care settings where the risk of COVID infection is far higher. It does allow sales of stairlifts and hoists and beds so some level of turnover can be maintained. “However, the operating costs are generally higher. We clearly have to provide significant amounts of PPE over and above the normal and at our expense. We are generally operating less efficiently due to the protection levels, clean down time and protection measures that need to be in place. “If a business was forced to close, it can furlough its staff and get financial compensation on a monthly basis. That compensation is, of course, not available to businesses that continue to trade. With the incidence of infection becoming increasingly common, we are also having to make difficult decisions on attending customers with equipment that needs attention.

The first few weeks of 2021 have been quiet compared to the end of 2020. This could be due to multiple reasons, including COVID-19; the third national lockdown; weather; the time of year; and Brexit, which alone sees significant delays and disruption to all shipping channels into and out of the UK. “Recare has been busy but business is still comparably slow due to reluctance of clients wanting to see us. Very few clients are looking to purchase standard, less-abled products. Specialist equipment, however, is still maintaining significant interest. “Being an essential service does help and as an owner, it is a lot clearer what we should and shouldn’t be doing as a company. “We have received queries asking why we have not been vaccinated yet if we are classed as essential. This I have actively lobbied for locally with our MP and CEO of the local NHS but still no movement as of yet. Will it help? Possibly not, as I’m sure most of our highdependency clients learn to work around the restrictions and still function. This is aided due to our diligent use of full PPE and their carers and healthcare professionals managing sensibly within these confinements.

Have you got a trade thought that you would like industry leaders to discuss? Contact Calvin Barnett at calvin@thiis.co.uk to share your topic.

www.thiis.co.uk / 33


Ypush Founder and CEO Brian Harrison with his labour of love

YPush: Pushing the boundaries of mobility innovation With a background in mechanical engineering and building high revving competition racing car engines, Brian Harrison is certainly targeting an altogether different market with the Ypush. “The speed element is somewhat different,” he laughs. “But the attention to detail is pretty similar!”

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Brian recalls that he was in England on business, staying in Poole Quay, when his initial idea for the Ypush came about. “I spotted an elderly lady struggling along the seafront, using a three-wheeled walker to help support herself,” he says. “She had her shopping bags draped all over

Five years in development and designed from the ground up, the Ypush Carer Controller Hybrid Wheelchair was the invention of Guernsey-based engineer Brian Harrison. He saw a gap in the market for an ultra-portable chair with power drive, steering and a compact lightweight robust construction that would transform the lives of both the occupant and the attendant. THIIS caught up with Brian Harrison, CEO of Ypush, to discuss his innovative chair and his plans for the future…

the handles as she moved along slowly. “I noticed that she took a few steps forward but then she kept stopping and looking back over her shoulder. This happened again and again as she continued her journey along the quayside and it looked as if she was concerned that she might


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The aim behind the Ypush is to help carers enjoy effortless outings

not have enough energy to get back to her starting point. “Then it struck me. Wouldn’t it be amazing to design a manual walker that would encourage people to continue walking? If they got too tired, they could convert it into a powered scooter and whizz off home. “I remember getting home and feeling really excited about the possibilities of specialised lightweight motors for mobility products.” A GAP IN THE MARKET Shortly afterwards, Brian noticed that although there are hundreds of thousands of people in the UK alone using a standard type of manual transit chair, he very rarely saw any of them out and about. Where were they? Brian says that his focus turned to the carer and the issues they face every day, struggling to pull and push people around in manual wheelchairs. On researching it further, Brian discovered that a

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large percentage of people who push manual wheelchairs suffer from fatigue and injury. In many cases, it is just too physically demanding for either the carer or the occupant to even consider going out and about, he says. “Throw in a slope or a tricky surface and it’s pretty much impossible, and easier to stay at home,” points out Brian. “Committing to developing a solution to this problem kick-started what became a seven-year project, leading to the Ypush.” A DESIGN CHALLENGE Finding the right combination of manual and powered was by far the biggest challenge for Brian and the key element he wanted to achieve. “We knew that we had to design an all-new, lightweight, powerful motor drive and control system, but where the driven wheels could also freewheel to allow manual pushing, yet provide seamless power at any time, or a combination of both,

without stopping or even changing any settings.” Although at the time this seemed a reasonable and quite a simple proposition, hindsight teaches you that things can be far more complicated and expensive than you ever imagine, explains Brian. Between 2013 and 2018, Brian and his team threw themselves into researching, designing, building and testing dozens of different types of prototype motors and many different control systems, occasionally making a small step forward. “We had numerous ‘Dragons’Den’-style meetings to raise funds

“I remember getting home and feeling really excited about the possibilities” BRIAN HARRISON

from private investors to fund the project and to help us continue to build relationships in many countries for the development, supply and assembly of parts. “I made many regular visits over the years to our Operations Director Patrick Tam in Hong Kong, to visit our suppliers and partners in the Far East who luckily shared the same passion and enthusiasm as we did.” Finally, it felt like Brian and his team were starting to make some progress… FROM THE GROUND UP Perhaps 90 per cent of the mainstream mobility products currently out in the market, says Brian, use a standardised, off-theshelf type of motor and gearbox, along with a certified motor controller, battery, charger, and brake systems. “They are built in their tens of thousands, so are generally available as a package quite cheaply along with the certification. You just bolt them on to a newly designed chassis and ‘hey presto’,” he says. This makes things far simplier, designing a new wheelchair or scooter product. “There are also so many other offthe-shelf parts available, but none of that would suit our purpose,” Brian continues. “Because we were designing every element from the ground up, apart from the nuts and bolts, including the chassis. And, being a Class 1 medical product, Richard Rudd, our compliance officer, insisted that while it is possible to do a certain amount of ‘self-certification,’ we should aim for the very highest industry standards, using TUV Germany and other world-class testing laboratories.” A STEADFAST BELIEF In ensuring that the Ypush passed the strict supply guidelines of potential customers, such as the NHS, Brian explained that he and his team went through a timeconsuming process where every single part of the Ypush – every material and mechanism – was rigorously examined, tested and certified in an accredited laboratory.

Brian recalls: “With all the parts on the Ypush bespoke, even down to the special tyres, Richard took us into a whole new world of micro detail you just didn’t know existed!” The biggest worry about the project, though, was the unknown, unforeseen, spiralling costs. “You can believe that there is a solution, but until you find one you have to keep testing, improving and hoping, as there are no guarantees,” he explains. “You can sell an idea to people but eventually time can start running out. You need to get results before the money runs out. “I always say to my children, Oliver and Darcie, that development

“Development is like a mixture of belief and a search for the truth” BRIAN HARRISON

is like a mixture of belief and a search for the truth.” Fortunately, the investors continued to be incredibly supportive and patient, staying committed to what Brian and his team were looking to achieve. Brian continues: “By 2018, we

Sue Mollet, who agreed to put the Ypush through its paces

www.thiis.co.uk / 37


The Brintal ‘Hands Off’ Safety Brakes went through some rigorous testing

had finally finished the design and testing of the three most complex features of the Ypush – the Advanced Dual Drive System, the Brintal, ‘’Hands off’, Safety Brakes, and the Electronic Anti-tip system. The results of five years of constant work had been realised, an incredibly rewarding moment, recounts Brian. “We were so excited and relieved, particularly to have finally completed the Dual Drive System,” he says. “It’s incredible to think back now and I’m so proud of everyone involved.” LIFETIME TESTERS Just after Brian and his team built the first complete test Ypush, local Guernsey couple Tony and Sue Mollet heard about it. “Tony called me to tell me they were really keen to see it and offered to help ‘lifetime’ test it for us,” says Brian. Sue has MS and Tony had struggled to take her out and about – the couple hadn’t been into town for a long time. “To see their faces when they saw the Ypush demonstrated for the first time is something I will never forget,” recalls Brian. “It was a real pivotal moment for the project as they took it off in the boot of their car to start testing – hopefully a real solution to some

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difficult issues they faced. “Tony is a real character and determined to not only go to all the places they couldn’t before, but to test the Ypush to the limit, to try and break it, while coming up with more and more extreme tests. “Sue finds open water swimming is helpful for her condition so Tony often takes her down the beach in the Ypush, right to the water’s edge! “I wouldn’t recommend that to our customers, but all in a day’s extreme lifetime testing for Tony and Sue.” The Ypush really had changed Tony and Sue’s lives, and Brian has included a video about the couple’s adventurous story on the Ypush website. AN UNEXPECTED PASSING In August 2018, Brian had another visit to Patrick in Hong Kong to visit some suppliers and partners. “At the end of the visit, Patrick took me to Hong Kong Airport as he always did and waved me off from departures,” he said. “On arrival back in Guernsey, I tried to contact him to let him know I was safely back home. But I found out that suddenly, and unexpectedly, the night after I left, that Patrick had passed away. “It was such an incredible blow, I was devastated,” says Brian. “He was such a kind and good friend and I had seen him only the day before at Hong Kong Airport.

“We could never have started the project without him. He had introduced me to many people and we didn’t think we could ever recover, as Patrick had been involved in every part of the project. We thought it was all over.” It took a few months for Brian to try to piece everything back together, as a good deal of the project’s supplier and factory management ended with Patrick. He and his team, however, were determined to push on, as Patrick would have wanted them to. “I remember one of the last things he said to me before I left to come home. He said: “Brian, no-one would understand the difficulties we have been through.” He was a good man and a good friend and he will never be forgotten,” reflects Brian. By early 2019, Brian and his team were back on track. One of the outstanding moments of that year, he recounts, was during compliance testing in Germany when TUV commented that they ‘’loved the

“To see their faces when they saw the Ypush demonstrated for the first time…” BRIAN HARRISON

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SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT Ypush’’ and were impressed by its ‘’incredibly safe brakes.’’ It was high praise indeed and a big relief for all. A new category of product also had to be created, as the Ypush did not fit into any current category. It was officially confirmed as falling into the category of ‘power assisted wheelchair’ (PAWC). Brian and the team really felt that they had something new, exciting, and different on their hands. PUSHING THE YPUSH Brian recalls first introducing the Ypush to the industry at Rehacare 2019 in Germany. “We wanted to get feedback from potential customers and came away with a lot of good advice and contacts,” says Brian. A well-known manufacturer was very keen to assemble the Ypush and this kick-started an exciting new relationship. Soon, the whole process turned towards mass production. The initial user feedback that Brian received from carers and users about the Ypush was helpful, he says, and led to his team making lots of small but important changes to the model. For instance, Brian recalls that they conducted a trial in a care home and noticed that, while in reverse, there was a constant beeping warning that needed to be altered. “It seemed a sensible idea and follows CE suggestions, however, in real life, when you are manoeuvring someone around a bedroom in the middle of the night, waking up the other residents is not such a good idea. Now there are just three small initial beeps to warn the carer.” It’s little elements like that which are really helpful to know before production, says Brian. DEALERS AND DISTRIBUTION Ypush has distributors ready and organised in a number of countries, including the biggest supplier of wheelchairs in the USA, he explains. “We are starting to talk to suitable retailers in the UK at the moment, although, of course, Covid is having a big effect on everything. At the moment, we are laying the foundations in place by preparing

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and supporting our dealers.” Brian explains that a ‘dealer plan’ has been drafted to introduce the product to potential partners, as one-on-one visits are not possible at the moment. The plan has full details for retailers about Ypush support, along with all dealers being

listed on the Ypush website. Brian adds: “We will work together to promote the product. There is also the possibility of granting specific territories to successful dealers.” The RRP for the Ypush in the UK is £2,750 and Brian explains that the company will be manufacturing

The battery is hidden in the side casing of the chair

Ypush – key features… A few things set the Ypush apart from its competitors, claims Brian Harrison… The Ypush is the world’s only seamless push or power wheelchair, specifically designed for the carer, says Brian. “It is not a powerchair with an attendant joystick and it does not require a separate bolt-on powerpack.” There are three key features and functions that make this possible, he explains: 1. The way you can push it along manually with no resistance on the wheel-motors and call on power at any time. “No other mobility product does that,” he maintains. 2. When moving along, either pushing or under power, if the carer slips or trips over, the brakes come on to bring the Ypush to a safe stop. The brakes are powerful, safe, and designed specifically for the Ypush. 3. The Ypush has an electronic ‘anti-tip’ system, which will cut out the power to the motors if both the front wheels leave the ground. Says Brian: “This is a totally new design which also incorporates an occupant sensor so that the power will not operate unless there is weight in the seat.”



Brintal "Hands off" Safety Braking


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Occupant sensor system

ADDS Advanced Dual Drive System – Push or Power

Electronic anti-tip

The NEW revolutionary Ypush gives the Carer instant power at the touch of a button. The world’s only wheelchair designed to be pushed manually, BUT with seamless power available at any time or any speed, without stopping or even changing any settings. Push, Power, or a combination of both - the choice is yours ! The Brintal ADDS Advanced Dual Drive System powers the rear wheels, coping with many challenging surfaces, whilst the unique Brintal ‘’Hands off’’ Safety Braking and Electronic Anti-tip sets new industry safety standards, ensuring fun, effortless, and stress-free days out!

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A complete game-changer for Carers and users alike. Unlike a bolt on power pack, with the Ypush there is no complicated setting up, no extra wheels to worry about, and no extra parts to forget or lose – it’s a compact one piece unit which packs and unpacks in seconds. Also, unlike an adapted attendant controlled power chair, which is ‘’locked in gear’’ to provide power so can’t be pushed manually with an occupant, the Ypush seamlessly combines power drive and manual modes.

What's in the box? 1 x Ypush 1 x Travel Roller Bag 1 x Ypush Lithium Powerpack 1 x Spare Battery Carry Bag 1 x Charger

To learn more about the Ypush or discuss the Ypush Dealer Plan, please email us at info@ypush.com MULTIPLE PATENTS APPLIED www.thiis.co.uk / 41 www.ypush.com

SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT between 500-1000 units during 2021, which is flexible depending on the demand. “We are very fortunate to have a new product in a new product category with no direct competition,” comments Brian. “But really we need to get out of the pandemic and be back to normal to be able to look far ahead. “It seems that once we are through the worst, people are generally looking to be more active and healthy, spending more time together, so any product that can assist with this will be really helpful.” The business is looking to supply UK retailers directly. Smaller, enthusiastic retailers would be perfect for the Ypush, Brian explains. “With a new category product like the Ypush, it takes passion, time and enthusiasm to explain exactly how it functions and who it is actually for. Otherwise, because it’s a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, potential customers might think it’s just another powerchair. It’s not. It’s about understanding that although the user benefits greatly, the Ypush is aimed very much at helping the carer. The carers are the target market, as it will most likely be them, a family member or a friend that actually makes the purchase. It’s a bit unusual.” A comprehensive ‘sales kit’ will be sent out to dealers, Brian explains. This consists of all the sales and point-of-sale components needed to get selling in store. It includes the Ypush, powerpack, charger, travel roller bag, branded sales podium, pop-up banner and media video screen.

“It’s the only place we were able to start actively pre-selling the Ypush. We only have a small population of 60,000 and we sold well over 30 units in a short space of time.” Units were purchased by a variety of customers, including care homes, OT services, the Alzheimer’s Support Group, Mental Health Support and many private customers. Brian says that he feels optimistic for sales in the UK, as it has 1,000 times more people than Guernsey and the Ypush has been well received so far. “It’s great because it is a product that works across a broad range of needs,” he says. The first production of the Ypush is expected to be in the UK in April 2021.

SALES PUSH Brian says that the Ypush will be appearing in the future at Naidex and similar exhibitions, either on its own or with dealers. The product will also be promoted on social media. Brand guides and artwork will be available to dealers, he states, enabling them to create their own advertising about the Ypush. The Ypush has already had a soft launch in Guernsey, where it had been lucky to have only a few Covid cases, explains Brian.

NO CHALLENGE TOO GREAT This year is all about starting to get Ypush out there to dealers and customers, and generally creating awareness of the product, in spite of the current world order, details Brian. With the Covid pandemic creating an ever-changing situation, Brian accepts that he may have to adapt accordingly. The current travel restrictions makes business and introductions more complicated and expensive but he and the team are

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The Ypush, complete with its accompanying powerpack, charger and travel roller bag

looking forward to seeing people out and about, once it all passes. Another challenge is, of course, Brexit and the biggest shipping crisis in 40 years. “Did I mention that a 20-foot container shipping price to the UK has gone up from US$1,250 to over US$8,000? It’s just crazy times!” he balks. With regards to Brian’s future plans for the Ypush, he says that the company is constantly looking at improvements and adding other products. “There has been a lot of interest in the ADDS technology we have developed so we are also looking forward to collaborative projects with other companies.” The priority first, however, is the Ypush, and just “seeing carers out and about, enjoying effortless, fun filled days out.” www.ypush.com

“It is a product that works across a broad range of needs” BRIAN HARRISON

Take another look at Primacare... RETAILERS’ CHOICE OF THE YEAR 2020


‘Floral Oatmeal’

For more information on our range go to... www.primacare.co.uk


How can we get one size to fit all in seating? 44 / www.thiis.co.uk

Seating in long-term care facilities is seldom designed for the individual using it – often, all the chairs have been bought as a package and look smart when lined up and unoccupied. In individual people’s homes, a person may have their favourite chair, but that chair may not be adequate for current needs. What can be done to customise this seating for better outcomes, but with the cooperation of the individuals and their carers?

The majority of wheelchair seating in long-term facilities has been reported to be inappropriate nearly 60 per cent of the time1,2. Similar observations have been made around general seating in the same institutions. Common implications3,4 are discomfort, poor positioning and mobility, and skin integrity issues. Individuals in their own homes often have their ‘favourite’ chairs and are unwilling to change them for something their healthcare adviser might prescribe as being more appropriate. So what can we do to ‘help the individuals help themselves’? In this article we will address what needs to be done here, but also address the common problems and what we might be able to do around the existing seating provision that might lead to better outcomes. WHAT ARE THE COMMON PROBLEMS? Having a chair that has been purchased on the basis that ‘the one size will fit all’ usually means that ‘the one size fits no-one’! What are the problems that this presents? 1. If the chair will accommodate the body mass of the largest plus-sized individual, then the odds are that the seat is too wide for the average person – who will then twist to try to get some lateral support on at least one side. 2. If the chair will accommodate taller people, then the depth of the seat will be too large for the average person – who will slouch into a kyphotic position to try to get some support from the chair’s back. 3. If the chair will accommodate taller people, then the cushion will be too high off the ground for the average person, leaving the average person’s feet off the ground – the pressure on the underside of the thigh can affect their venous return, leading to swelling of the feet. In addition, the unstable feeling of ‘legs dangling’ can be very distressing for the person, particularly if they have any




proprioception deficits. To accommodate the circumstances in 3, a footstool is often provided. However, this extension of the legs for the feet to reach the stool, pulls on shortened hamstrings, which in turn pull forward on the individual’s pelvis, which, in turn, again leads to a kyphotic posture. If the height of the cushion is too low, on the other hand, then there will not be even distribution of the body’s mass along the thighs, and the result is more pressure under the boney parts of the pelvis, potentially leading to tissue damage under the pelvis. In addition, this lower position makes it more difficult for the infirm to leave their seats. The upholstery is often ‘incontinence-proof’ for easy cleaning. However, this usually means that the surface is smooth, and the individual then has problems which arise from sliding and struggling to maintain their position. Many durable upholstery coverings are quite rigid which prevents any level of immersion which reduces pressure redistribution, and also leaves the individual ‘perched’ on the surface. The impervious surface is often not breathable and thus leads to moisture and heat build up next to the skin.

HOW CAN WE ADDRESS THESE PROBLEMS? First, the client needs to be part of the process. If they are not comfortable with the solution, the solution will not be used – this applies to both the seated individuals and to their carers. Below we will look at potential means to manage the problems listed above. 1. The chair’s seating area is too large for the individual (1 and 2 above). Often, loose cushions or pillows are

Fig. 1 A Jonvac back support

placed around the individual. However these move around, fall to the floor, and generally get in the way. More beneficial are the adjustable vacuum-formed solutions, where a bag, filled with polystyrene microbeads, is formed around the individual into the required comfortable position, and then the air sucked out of the bag to leave the beads in a fixed position (Fig. 1). To adjust to different clients or different chairs, the air is let in again, the beads readjusted, and the air sucked out again. This can all be done with feedback from the seated individual as to whether they are comfortable, can move to carry out activities from the chair, etc. This customisation of the individual’s seating also allows the creation of a

Dr ter Haar has been involved in seating and mobility for over 30 years, including lecturing internationally and developing international seating and decontamination standards.

www.thiis.co.uk / 45


block at the top of the pelvis (at the PSISs) to help control the degree of posterior pelvic tilt and attendant kyphotic curvature of the spine. As a note: a) Please make sure that the ‘bag’ has a suitable cover, not only for comfort and improved appearance for acceptance, but to allow the skin to breathe. b) Using a pressure mapping system can help to assess the best balance between positioning and pressure distribution. In addition, the visual demonstration on screen of the benefits for the individual can really help improve acceptance of change The chair seat is too high off the ground (3 and 4). A foot step that takes the feet off the ground, but still allows the feet to come back under the edge of the chair, will fill the gap, but not have the foot position forward, thereby pulling on the hamstrings and pulling the individual into a kyphotic position. Foot stools have their place to help with reducing swelling of the feet, but then the chair back support will need to have a recline function.

Fig. 2. An adjustable chair raiser



The chair seat is too low (5). A chair raiser may be the best option – an example is shown in Figure 2. These are not always the most attractive of solutions, but they are practical. Also, these can be easily stored away when not needed. The chair cover is too firm, slippery, or unbreathable (6).

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Fig. 3. A Shear Comfort XD1900 Day Chair overlay

As discussed in an earlier article in this series5, the body benefits when the interface with a seating surface is via natural materials. Medical sheepskins and pure wool based overlays (provided they have sufficient wool density) provide a comfortable surface to sit on, with reduced shear forces on the skin and better temperature and water vapour control. An example is the XD1900 Day Chair overlay shown in Figure 3. PATIENT CONCORDANCE As mentioned above, the solutions you offer, which allow the individual still to use their favourite chair, or with which they feel comfortable, are more likely to succeed than other ‘imposed’ solutions. Explaining in simple terms the downsides around what the person has been doing while discussing the benefits of alternatives will help in achieving concordance with your aims. For some clients, using the images from a pressure mapping system helps show them in pictorial form what is going on around them and under them – however, it’s not just the clients who need to see these and hear the explanations, it’s also their carers.

1. Canada S. Participation and Activity Limitation survey 2006. Ottawa: 2008 2. Giesbrecht EM, Mortenson, WB, Miller W. Prevalence and facility level correlates of need for wheelchair seating assessment among long term care residents. Gerontology. 2012; 58:378384 3. Mortenson WB, Miller WC. The wheelchair procurement process: perspectives of clients and prescribers. Can J Occ Ther. 2008; 75:167–75. 4. Bourbonniere MC, Fawcett, LM, Miller WC, Garden J, and Mortenson WB. Prevalence and predictors of need for seating intervention and mobility for persons in long-term care. Can J Aging. 2007; 26:195–204. 5. Naturally – It’s material what one uses for pressure and skin care. THIIS 2020 September 40-43.

‘Let’s Get it Clear’ by Dr Barend ter Haar One in a series of occasional résumés of aspects in the world of posture and mobility where there are common misconceptions, and myths to be addressed, to help promote better practice. Further items can be found at www. beshealthcare.net. If you are interested in receiving further information on the topic, please contact: barend@beshealthcare.net


The OT’s Perspective Say hello to the Cardiff Independent Living and Rehabilitation Centre By Stuart Barrow

“I’ve long felt that the more integrated OTs and the commercial sector can be, the better the end product delivered to the client: The centre is the next step in that direction.”

Ever since I was young, I always wanted to do something to make people’s lives better. I believe passionately that the more we help our fellow humans in life, the more meaningful our life becomes; it’s something of a maxim that I’ve attempted to live by for the past 40 years. Of course, it’s what led me into occupational therapy and then into adaptations. It was there that I found real value and meaning – allowing people to live their best life possible – no matter their personal circumstances – was so rewarding. OTAC was the next step, empowering as many occupational therapists as I could, as well as helping retailers of life-changing equipment and services get their message out to a wider audience. For a while now, I’ve felt that there’s been a logical final step for me and my team and I’ve been working hard at it, dotting the Is and crossing the Ts. AND FINALLY, I CAN NOW OFFICIALLY REVEAL THAT THE CARDIFF INDEPENDENT LIVING AND REHABILITATION CENTRE WILL BE OPENING IN 2021. The centre will feature a fully equipped Changing Places facility, a sensory room, a rebound therapy room and sensory integration

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The OT company is set to create a space where anyone can get hands on with aids to help with mobility and independent living

throughout. Plus, it’ll be available for OTs, retailers and manufacturers alike for training, treatment, assessments, along with whatever else it can be useful for. Our own occupational therapy practice will operate out of the centre and we’ll also be running live, in-person training from the training suite too. We’ll have plenty of on-site parking, a good-size kitchen and it’ll be perfectly located, just off the A48 in east Cardiff, making it easily accessible for those who are travelling. In short, it’ll be a one-stop shop for occupational therapists and the companies and individuals who work closely with them and I know that it’s going to add a huge amount of value to our community. HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED? I firmly believe that our industry is stronger as a whole, rather than as fragmented people working in silos.

I’ve long felt that the more integrated OTs and the commercial sector can be, the better the end product delivered to the client: The centre is the next step in that direction. I believe that companies will be able to get a huge amount of value from using the centre, either to liaise with occupational therapists or to hold their own sessions and demonstrations there. Simply put, it will be a space designed and devoted to improving people’s lives and if that’s what your product is devoted to, you’ll find a warm welcome at the Cardiff Independent Living and Rehabilitation Centre. If you’d like to talk personally about how you can get involved with the Centre, and how it may be able to help you achieve the goals of your organisation, I’d welcome a conversation – call me anytime on 02921 900402 or email me at stuat@ promoting-independence.co.uk

Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists panel and a recognised contributor in the field of home adaptations. He also runs the popular Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference

Just like our seminars and exhibitions, our online webinars are quickly gaining legendary status within the industry, with hundreds of OT’s turning up virtually for each one, and some of the biggest players in the market taking centre stage to showcase their products, deliver training sessions or even CPD accredited seminars. Our online webinars make it possible to get your business infront of more people then you would often get at a traditional exhibition. Running your own online webinar with OTAC® couldn’t be any easier, we’ll take care of everything from promoting the event and registration management, right through to hosting the session and even sorting out the certificates afterwards.

You can choose to present from the comfort of your own home, or (if you need multiple cameras to demo a product) you could come to one of our studios or we could even send a technician to you.

It’s FREE and easy to register, just visit

Lockdown restrictions and social distancing mean that getting your business infront of Occupational Therapists is more challenging now than usual, and one of our OTAC® online webinars could be the perfect solution for you.

If you’d like more information on how you can run your very own Webinar, contact Stuart@promoting-independence.co.uk





Occupational Therapy Adaptation Conference



Buyers’ guide to Walking aids

Each month, discover key products from a different segment of the mobility market to consider offering to customers

Space CF Rollator from Rehasense Weighing just 4.7 kilograms, the Space CF is the lightest carbon fibre rollator available, according to Rehasense. Available in medium and large, with a maximum user weight of 150 kilograms, the Space CF is easy to control and manoeuvre due to its lightweight design in both indoor and outdoor environments. It features a rigid X frame with an easy-fold mechanism, providing more space in the foot area to reduce any risk of tripping. Increased user comfort is provided by the intelligent height-adjustable handle with indexed settings and lowprofile wheels. www.rehasense.co.uk

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Let’s Go Out Rollator by Trust Care The Let’s Go Out Rollator is a cleverly designed, lightweight walking aid that is both comfortable and durable. With a cross-fold design, it takes up very little space when not in use. Boasting large wheels to aid with kerb climbing and other obstacles, the built-in spring system gives smooth movement that helps aid users with stiff joints. www.manageathome.co.uk

Topro Troja Forearm Walker from Topro Mobility

Rollz Motion Rhythm Rollator from Rollz Aimed at users with Parkinson’s Disease, the stable Rollz Motion Rhythm Rollator prevents falls that could occur due to balance problems, while the cues overcome freezing or festinating gait patterns. A projected laser line triggers to break a freeze and a metronome or the vibration help set the walking pace.

Environmentally manufactured in Norway, this forearm walker can be customised for a wide variety of disabilities to suit shop sales or occupational therapy assessments. Its unique memory function ensures an easy and consistent set-up, while different size and braking options make this forearm walker an ideal professional choice.

www.rollz.com www.topromobiity.co.uk




5.8 KG

The SPACE LX rollator combines intuitive design, smooth lines and high-strength alloy materials. Maximum user weight of 150 kg. The lightweight design makes it easy to walk, lift and turn – indoors and outside. Backrest and stick holder included. Available in medium or large and a choice of 3 colours.

electric blue

champagne gold

Rehasense UK +44 (0) 0333 220 0704 SPACE LX


ukadmin@rehasense.com www.rehasense.co.uk



Seat Height Adjustable Rollator from Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare This robust and rustproof aluminium model features handle height adjustment and seat height adjustment. Light to manoeuvre, it is anatomically designed, with latex-free handles allowing for a comfortable grip. The swivelling front wheels increase manoeuvrability and the arthritic-friendly looped cable brakes activate effortlessly and are lockable for additional safety. The padded seat flips up easily for access to the storage bag or for folding, while the curved and padded backrest offers support. Featuring solid, 19-centimetre, puncture-proof tyres, this model is available in blue or red. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk

Flexyfoot Crutches from Flexyfoot Combining the safety and functionality of the Flexyfoot ferrule as standard, this range of crutches has been extended to include a range of colours and styles, which now includes the Carbon Folding Travel Crutch. Flexyfoot crutches are lightweight, quiet and perform reliably, says the company. With a choice of open or closed cuffs and either straight or anatomic soft feel handles, they can be purchased individually or as pairs.

www. flexyfoot. com/pages/ crutches

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Walking Umbrella from Classic Canes Some people who need a walking stick refuse to admit the fact, resulting in avoidable trips and falls. This practical walking umbrella from Classic Canes is fitted with a rubber ferrule and is as supportive as a stick, solving many an objection in the retailer’s showroom by removing the perceived stigma for the user. This model is adjustable in height, between 89-97 centimetres, and has a strong carbon fibre framework. The canopy is available in black or an attractive cream, brown and dark blue check. www.classiccanes.co.uk


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The Tri Walker with Seat from Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare Featuring a comfortable seat and backrest as standard, the Tri Walker with Seat is lightweight and portable, with a metallic steel frame, heightadjustable handles and loop-lock cable brakes. Weighing seven kilograms, the Tri Walker easily folds for compact storage. Available in blue or red, it has a durable steel frame, front wheel swivels, 19-centimetre wheels and solid puncture-proof tyres. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use, the maximum user weight is 114 kilograms. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk

Dietz TAiMA SGT Rollator from Able2 With a low minimum handle height at 76 centimetres and weighing just 5.3 kilograms, the Dietz TAiMA SGT rollator is a good option for a petite user. Featuring a stylish metallic paint exterior, this rollator has a generous seat, manoeuvrable wheels and comfortable grip, making it a suitable ‘about town’ companion. www.able2.eu

Space LX Rollator from Rehasense The Space LX Rollator combines intuitive design, smooth lines and high strength alloy materials. Easy to walk with and weighing 5.8 kilograms, the rollator is convenient to lift and turn, both indoors and outside. To ensure good posture, height-adjustable handles with indexed settings provide increased user comfort while increased safety comes from the quick positive braking system. Available in medium and large with grey, gold and blue metallic finishes, the Space LX is fitted with a backrest and stick holder as standard, along with an integrated removable basket. It has a maximum user weight of 150 kilograms. www.rehasense.co.uk

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Classic Canes British Songbirds folding cane from Classic Canes The exclusive design of this stylish folding cane, patterned with British songbirds, interspersed with feathers on a pale grey background, is based on a hand-painted original by Classic Canes' managing director, Charlotte Gillan. The folding cane is height-adjustable from 82 to 92 centimetres so it can be altered to fit a wide range of users. The shaft is high-quality aluminium, fitted with a non-slip rubber ferrule. It also has a chrome collar and a plastic derby handle, elegantly shaped to provide comfortable support.

Aviator Duck formal cane from Classic Canes For centuries, canes have been used as style statements, as well as a means of support. In its range of 700-plus canes, Classic Canes stocks many every day and orthopaedic models, including more unusual (and often higher margin) canes for collectors and sartorialists. This amusing aviator duck in his flying goggles is a recent addition to a selection that includes dog breeds, horses, birds of prey, frogs and historical characters. www.classiccanes.co.uk



10 NEW FOLDING CANES IN EXCLUSIVE PATTERNS Please contact us for our trade catalogue: Tel 01460 75686 www.classiccanes.co.uk

www.thiis.co.uk / 55


Server W Forearm Walker from Rehasense The Server W Forearm Walker won a 2020 THIIS ‘Retailer’s Choice’ award and features gutter armrests with height and depth adjustment. Weighing just 9.5 kilograms with a maximum user weight of 150 kilograms, the lightweight Server W can be used indoors and outside, and is available in red or grey. Unlike many models, this model can be easily folded to fit into a car for transportation. Its folding design also ensures the user walks with a better posture compared to other front folding models. www.rehasense.co.uk

Flexyfoot ‘Pop-On’ Ice Boot from Flexyfoot

GHUG – Glove Hug from Care & Independence The Glove Hug is a versatile, multi-purpose sling that provides support and comfort for walking, standing and seated transfers. Suitable for both low or high tone users, the Glove Hug sling is a useful additional aid for both occupational and physiotherapists. www.careandindependence.com

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Getting out and about in winter can prove impossible for crutch or walking stick users. The Ice Boot was developed to directly address and overcome the challenges of safety and confidence in snowy or icy conditions. The boot “pops” on over the tread of the Flexyfoot ferrule and is fitted with stainless steel teeth that grab the walking surface to provide stable support. A handy cover is also supplied with the boot to make fitting and storing the device easier. www.flexyfoot.com/ products/flexyfoot-ice-boot

Uniscan Glider Plus Adjustable Rollator from Uniscan This model is packed with options and can be made to order, which means the retailer has a huge range of walkers available without the requirement of carrying stock. British manufactured, it is a lightweight and strong at 6.5 kilograms. Features include an integral rest seat and padded back rest and a choice of eight seat heights, all with three handle positions. It comes in a choice of colours and three frame widths. The rollator stands unsupported when closed, minimising floor space. It folds and automatically locks for easy storage and transportation. www.uniscan-walkers.co.uk

Flexyfoot Walking Sticks from Flexyfoot The Flexyfoot ferrule, fitted as standard, helps reduce the risk to stick and crutch users by offering increased grip, durability, comfort and safety. In addition, it has been verified by independent ISO & BS testing standards. The sticks are available with three different handle designs, including the signature Oval Easy Grip, Cork Derby and new Soft Feel Derby handle to reduce hand strain and pressure. www.flexyfoot.com/pages/walking-sticks


Uniscan Grand Glider Plus Walking Frame from Uniscan This bariatric model is both lightweight and robust. Weighing 7.4 kilograms, it takes a user weight of up to 254 kilograms. British manufactured, the frame’s features include an integral rest seat and padded back rest. It has a choice of four seat heights, all with three handle positions, and comes in a range of colours. The walking frame stands unsupported when closed, minimising floor space. It also folds and automatically locks for easy storage and transportation. www.uniscan-walkers.co.uk

All-Terrain Cane from Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare The All-Terrain Cane was developed to be suitable for most outdoor surfaces, helping the user to enjoy a walk, even when the conditions may not be ideal. This walking aid provides two walk settings: a durable rubber tip for standard use and a gripping claw tip for more challenging surfaces. It features a stylish swan neck design with a foam handle for comfort. The push button height adjustment ranges from 30 inches to 39 inches. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk

Uniscan Triumph Walker from Uniscan This British-manufactured, lightweight, three-leg walking frame includes both an integral rest seat and shopping holdall, as well as adjustable height handles. Weighing 6.5 kilograms but not lacking in strength, the Triumph boasts amaximum user weight is 127 kilograms. Available in a choice of colours, the model stands unsupported when closed, and it folds and locks neatly for storage. It also comes in a five-leg version. www.uniscan-walkers.co.uk

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The Ergo Lite 2 transit weighs just 8.5kg complete and the self-propel breaks down to 6kg making them among the very lightest wheelchairs available on the market.

Karma mobility ltd Unit 6 target ParK, redditch Worcestershire b98 8yn T: 0845 630 3436 E: info@karmamobiliTy.co.uk www.karmamobiliTy.co.uk

Ergo Lite 2 Self Propel Wheelchair

Ergo Lite 2 Transit Wheelchair

ENRICH YOUR EVERYDAY Award-winning design, unrivalled agility and even controllable from a smartphone. With on-the-spot turning and simple controls, the WHILL Model C puts your customer firmly in command for total freedom indoors and out. To enquire about the WHILL Model C

Call 01787 888 106

or email trade.sales@tgamobility.co.uk www.tgamobility.co.uk QUOTE: THSA21

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THIIS Magazine - The number one mobility B2B magazine - February 2021  

The February 2021 issue of the magazine examines what impact being classed as 'essential' has had on retailers in the mobility industry duri...

THIIS Magazine - The number one mobility B2B magazine - February 2021  

The February 2021 issue of the magazine examines what impact being classed as 'essential' has had on retailers in the mobility industry duri...

Profile for thiis