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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 244 • January 2019



Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Issue 244 January 2019

The industry’s glittering gala event Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Mobility retailers, manufacturers and the NHS come together to celebrate 2018’s best in class MORE ABOUT…

Herida Moving & Handling


Stuart Mobility


Partner Programmes 3 options designed for your business

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

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

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

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


…from the editor It is a new year, with new opportunities


ith a busy 2018 behind us, 2019 is sure to be just as hectic in the world of mobility and independent living, as new products and players enter and existing players leave a continuously growing and competitive market. Looking back over 2018, one of the more noticeable trends was the acceleration of acquisitions as more investors, particularly private equity firms, turned their attention to organisations in the mobility world offering impressive growth potential in a market catering for an ever-ageing and ever-growing consumer base. If the acquisition activity of 2018 is anything to go on, there are bound to be more acquisitions taking place in the year ahead. It may sound cliché but a new year also offers the perfect opportunity to try out new ideas, as well as to pause and revaluate what did and did not work so well in the previous year. In this issue, a guest article from Bayliss Mobility’s Gary Braithwaite nicely sums up the condition of mobility market in 2018 and offers some insightful predictions for retailers to be aware of in 2019. For retailers interested in testing out new products or contemplating moving into new markets, January’s Living made easy Product Showcase and Retailers’ Pick of Month features will prove useful reading, highlighting some products they may not be aware of. Alternatively, in this month’s Retailer Spotlight, seating retailer Stuart Mobility’s story of product specialisation over diversification may just convince some retailers to abandon plans of expanding their product portfolios in favour of a more streamlined product offering. In addition, THIIS finds out more about Herida’s move into the moving and handling sector, led by Neil Smith, the former boss of Mackworth Healthcare, who says he has unfinished business in the sector. From me and the team at THIIS Magazine, we wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

Editor Calvin Barnett 01933 278086

Advertising Joe Fahy 07384 258 372

Calvin Barnett Editor

Sub-editor Sarah Sarsby


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

You can find THIIS on Twitter at: wwwthiiscouk | 3


16 Moving into moving and handling

Features 6 Primacare revives AJ Way’s ranges 8 Living made easy Product Showcase: Bathing & toileting 38 Mobility retail in 2019: What to look out for

Regulars 12



More about…

The OT’s Perspective

54 Product specialisation over diversification


Retailers’ Product of the Month


Retailer Spotlight


Training Diary




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34 Products of the month

20 The OT’s Perspective

12 Meet Gillian

The Heartbeat of your

AGM Mobility Over One Million Batteries Sold in the UK!

• More Plates, More Power • Up To 46% More Capacity • Vibration Proof Design • Extra Long Cycle Life • Full Range Held in the UK

Tel: 01536 203030 Website: Email:

Ask about our other ranges

PRIMACARE REVIVES AJ WAY’S RANGES After the shock announcement that established seating manufacturer AJ Way creased trading and entered administration in November 2018, Welsh-based seating manufacturer Primacare is now reviving the now-defunct company’s product range.


aving been manufacturing handmade seating since 1936 from High Wycombe, AJ Way announced it had entered administration in 2018 after failing to secure a buyer. In 2010, AJ Way was acquired by Kirton in 2010, however, when Kirton was acquired by Direct Healthcare Group in 2017, AJ Way was omitted, becoming an independent company again. After 18-months of trading independently, former AJ Way managing director Tony Mercer announced the company was to fold, after failing to reduce production costs enough whilst lowering selling prices, resulting in margin erosion and a lossmaking business. Following the company’s collapse, the fate of its specialist seating range of chairs seemed bleak until Primacare confirmed it had purchased the ranges’ design rights. The Welsh manufacturer will now produce popular ex-AJ Way chairs including the Wendover and the Tate, with manufacturing of the Chatsworth already underway at its South Wales facilities. Speaking with THIIS, David explained why he decided to purchase the design rights and continue producing the chairs. “Because they are good chairs that are still in demand,” he said.

“They will now be produced under the Primacare banner. The market has many manufacturers and this natural rationalisation simplifies choice but doesn’t impact on the offer for customers.” David told THIIS Primacare is able to undertake some repairs and also has access to some spares for chairs purchased from AJ Way. Alongside acquiring the defunct company’s design rights, Primacare purchased a number of other assets including plant & machinery, intellectual property, AJ Way’s work in progress chairs and completed stock ready to be sold. Commenting on the decision to acquire the assets, David remarked that it would have been a waste to see good equipment mothballed or scrapped, with the equipment investment playing a key role in the company’s 2019 expansion plans. Based in Wales, Primacare designs and manufactures an extensive range of bespoke, specialist chairs, with a broad selection of actions, fabrics, features and accessories. Dealers are now able to place orders for the Chatsworth, with the Wendover and Tate ready to start production.

Primacare’s David Tomlin has purchased a number of assets from the now defunct AJ Way

“They are good chairs that are still in demand.” DAVID TOMLIN

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The Chatsworth is now available for dealers to purchase


Alerta Medical now manufacture a new Wood Alertamat, dementia friendly and suitable to connect to all nurse call systems.

Wood Alertamat A robust, long-life Alertamat with wood-look safety floor topping for use on the floor, it is the world’s first and only genuine wood-look fall prevention mat. Alertamat provides a distinguished look for the care environment and is an ideal solution for situations where a dementia resident would otherwise avoid the mat. With a simple ‘plug-and-play’ system, the care giver can quickly set up the Alertamat and have it operating with ease. Plug-and-play Safety-floor wood finish Dimensions: 55 x 80 cm Contact us today to discuss further.

Find out more… request our latest 2019 catalogue

+44 (0)3452 088 097 | |

living made easy

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

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Stylish furniture commode with height adjustable legs

Designed for use in residential care and assisted living situations, the Aventis assistive bath can suit people who have difficulty using a conventional bath but still want to enjoy a soak in the bath with minimal assistance. It features a button operated ‘slam-shut’ inward facing door and a powered built-in contoured seat lift with fold down armrests. The seat also rises as an elevated sitting position, allowing the user to take a shower instead of a bath. An automatic battery back-up is available in event of mains power failure. Accessories include a hydrotherapy spa, thermostatic valves and end panels. Left- and right-hand entry options are available.


he Walton commode is designed to look discrete and blend in with the home. A concealed commode area holds a nine-litre plastic pan which has a lock and lift lid to prevent spills and an additional handle for lifting and emptying. The commode removes for cleaning, or to convert back to an ordinary chair if the commode is no longer required. Manufactured by Langham-GE, it comes in either white or brown with an added choice of weave designs.

MULTI-PURPOSE TOILET SUPPORT RAIL This three-in-one toilet surround by Throne UK is designed to enable the user to have support close to the body. Once installed, it operates in three modes. In standard mode, both grab rails are in a standard vertical position, helping support the user to lower and raise themselves onto and up from the toilet pan. Splayed is much the same as the standard position but it offers a wider option

for users who would rather have a wider grip from the grab rail. The fold down position offers the option of side access to the toilet – for example to accommodate space for a wheelchair, or for where space is limited. The arms can also be individually removed if required. The rail is rigidly fitted to the toilet pan; once installed it does not need to be removed for other users. 020 7289 6111 | 9

living made easy

FLOATING BATH THERMOMETER The large LCD display on this floating bath thermometer from Lifemax Direct supplies visual warnings for excessively hot or cold temperatures. To use, shake the thermometer and drop it into the bath water. After a few seconds a reading will be displayed in degrees centigrade. Once in the water, the thermometer is designed to continue to re-check the temperature every five seconds.

Shower cubicle with WC


ontour Showers’ range of shower cubicles are self-contained freestanding units, designed to be installed in any room as a cost effective, short term or semi-permanent alternative to a traditional adaptation. The model featured here is a corner stepped access half cubicle with WC and bi-folding doors. The shower tray system is designed to prevent likelihood of leaks and has an anti-slip surface. Optional extras include grab rails, a ramp or step, shower seat and a roof with the choice of adding a light and fan. is the UK’s leading comparison site for equipment for independent living, used predominately by disabled and older people or their relatives and friends. Our comprehensive database helps around two million people a year. If you are a supplier and would like to list your products on Living made easy, contact our data services team at

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Suction power


hese stick ‘n’ stay grab rails by Lifemax Direct require no tools to fit; they are designed to attach to tiled, enamel or fibreglass surfaces by suction. Positioning and pressing down on the two pressure levers activate the suction power: safety indicators will show if it has been correctly fitted – green indicates the handle is securely fixed, red will display if the handle needs to be repositioned. They can be removed and refitted elsewhere as and when needed.

ROTATING SHOWER TRAY The Tern is an electrically operated, 360-degree rotating level access shower tray by Contour Showers, designed to allow users with restricted mobility to maintain independence while washing. Operated by a wireless fob, it can reduce the physical demands on the user - they can choose to either stand or seat in a shower chair - and promote single carer handling. The tray requires no turning circle within the bathroom; any transitions into a shower chair can be made away from the shower area. It can be fitted with half height carer doors, for when assisted showering is required, and a body dryer. Other options include a glass screen or self-contained cubicle.

Lotion and cream applicator The BackBliss Lotion and Cream Applicator is an ergonomically tested long handled plastic lotion applicator with a washable replaceable pad. Invented by Caroline Wagstaff and launched in 2003, it helps the user to independently apply lotions and creams to his or her back from any arm position. The applicator has a patented flexible handle that is designed to adjust to the contours of the back. The replaceable applicator pad absorbs only the amount of lotion required while spreading it evenly over the skin. The applicator comes with a travel pouch and hanging hook. 020 7289 6111 | 11

meet... Simon Weston CBE with Gillian Green at the BHTA Annual Awards


What does your position involve? As Sales Manager, I am responsible for the running of the showroom which means making sure we have adequate supply of all products that we sell. I also meet clients in the showroom. Whereas some clients know what they want, many clients need advice. I additionally carry out seating assessments and give demonstrations for mobility scooters and other mobility aids. What do you enjoy most about your job? Meeting people and helping them to maintain their independence. It’s very rewarding to see how things we do can make such a difference to their independence, through getting the right advice and making informed choices. What is one of your proudest moments in the industry? Being invited to the BHTA Awards where I was presented with the

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Individual Achievement Award by Simon Weston. What’s the biggest change you have seen in the industry? The biggest change we have seen this year at Island Mobility is the potential use of affordable new technologies in our industry, especially the use of Augmented Reality. If you could bring one new innovation to the market, what would it be? We are currently developing our own augmented reality app that will enable us to re-use stairlift rails, so I am hoping this will help with the reuse of rails. I feel with the changing client demographics that there needs to be more reuse of equipment. What are your interests outside of work? I enjoy researching my family history which has also led to a keen enthusiasm in social history.

Quick-fire questions! Describe yourself in three words Patient, kind and understanding What’s your favourite song? You’re the Voice by John Farnham What was the last movie you watched? Elf If you could have a superpower, what would it be? To be in two places at once Favourite place in the world? The rugged coastline and countryside of The Isle of Wight

If you had to do any other job in the world, what would it be? I like to make a difference to people’s lives, so perhaps nursing.

Happy New Year

& ‘Thank You’ to our Dealers from the Electric Mobility Team A sustainable business is built on supportive relationships, so contact our Sales Team & Specialists today. We are here to help you. Together we are stronger!

Continue your journey in 2019 with us & offer your customers the quality & choice they need. Contact us:

0800 252614


STILTZ FIRST CUSTOMER BENEFITS FROM PIONEERING SPINAL IMPLANT After living with Degenerative Disc Disease - a condition affecting around 30 million people every year – for almost four decades, 60-year-old Kim Carpenter has been all but cured after receiving an innovative new Spinal Cord Stimulator implant.


ne of the first people to be treated with the new implant, Kim and her husband Brian were also the very first UK homeowners to purchase a Stiltz lift. Kim decided to approach the London Spinal Clinic with a desperate plea for help after her back pain became too much to bare. Fortunately, it proved perfect timing as the Harley Street-based centre was weeks away from trialing their new Spinal Cord Stimulator implant. Not afraid to try something new, Kim readily agreed, becoming one of the trial’s first volunteers and, according to her, the device has worked wonders. Degenerative Disc Disease involves the discs collapsing and causing the facet joints in the vertebrae to rub against one another, causing pain and stiffness. The Spinal Cord Stimulator device had to be surgically placed under Kim’s skin and works by sending mild electric currents from a pulse

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Kim with her second Stiltz lift

generator to the nerve fibres of her spinal cord via a small wire. “It works very much like a tens machine,” explained Kim. “It confuses the signals going to the brain and stimulates the nerves in the area of my back where I feel the pain most. It has made me so much more mobile and has taken away at least 80 per cent of the discomfort I was feeling before. The only thing is I have to ‘charge’ the stimulator for about half an hour every morning and evening – a bit like a mobile phone. Once the battery level is charged, I can move around again.” Eight years previously, Kim’s pain had become so debilitating that the only way she was able to climb stairs was on all fours, before installing the UK’s first Stiltz homelift, which the Essex couple came across at the Ideal Home Show. Despite having the new implant, Kim still does not feel comfortable enough to walk up the stairs and continues to use the original Stiltz homelift, as well

as recently purchasing a newer, more stylish model second Stiltz lift to the property. The next generation Stiltz lift has been added to a recent extension they have had built, connecting an extensive library room to an upstairs mezzanine area. Explaining the decision to purchase the homelift, Kim said: “The homelift has helped make our home fully accessible for me and, along with the spinal stimulator, has improved my life immeasurably. The lift is ideal for sending up the laundry and the vacuum cleaner rather than attempting to do it myself and is so easy to use. “I’m really proud of the fact we are again unique in the UK as having an original Stiltz alongside one of their newest models. The older one looks more like a time capsule, whereas the new one is clear on all sides making it light and airy; but I love both and I couldn’t be without them.”

more about…

The launch of Herida Moving & Handling Ltd is the Group’s third successive start-up


MOVING INTO MOVING & HANDLING Off the back of its success in the pressure care market where it has experienced “unprecedented levels of profitable growth”, Herida Healthcare has entered the moving & handling arena, launching its third successive start-up in less than two years. No stranger to this sector, Neil Smith, Managing Director of the Herida Group, caught up with THIIS to discuss the UK manufacturer’s ambitions for penetrating and disrupting an already busy market. 16 |

“Therefore, after deliberation by our Board, we have created a new, selfsufficient business in Herida Moving & Handling Ltd. This company is totally dedicated to a specific product range and therefore does not conflict with our already profitable companies”.

Neil Smith


eeds-based manufacturer Herida launched Herida Healthcare Moving & Handling Ltd in November 2018, following a sixfigure investment, joining the Group’s two established companies, Herida Healthcare Ltd and Herida Healthcare Manufacturing Ltd. MOVING INTO THE MARKET Having seen considerable success in a relatively short span of time in the pressure care market, where Herida has launched a range of clinically proven products and generated millions in sales revenue with a highly impressive 31 percent EBITDA performance, the company says its expansion into the moving & handling arena complements its existing activities. Neil Smith, Managing Director of the Herida Group, told THIIS: “We truly believe there is a growing demand for high-quality, pressure reducing slings. Remember, the rest of the Herida Group make pressure care devices very successfully for a living. “Our customers are also telling us there is a demand and that was a good start for the business plan.” The venture has been launched as a new, self-sufficient business, rather than as a division within one of the existing companies, as Neil explained. “Naturally, in the early days, we had concerns over diluting our efforts and therefore potentially limiting future success, via the existing business structure,” he said.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS Acknowledging that the moving & handling market is already saturated with established key players, Neil told THIIS that he is well versed in the sector from his experience owning one of the industry’s well-known players and will use this experience to offer something new. “As the moving and handling markets are already swamped with offerings that are very similar and with some good companies offering such solutions, another similar entrant seemed a little crazy. Therefore, we wanted to offer our valued customers something different,” he said.

distort skin and tissue. The ultimate combination of generic offerings and standard sling “cuts or designs” can cause problems for tissue viability during the lifting process,” described Neil. “After careful interaction with both our commercial teams and importantly customers, we have been able to develop a quality range of slings and moving and handling devices that have effective pressure reducing qualities. The great news is, that this time around, these range of products complement our pressure care products within the core businesses. This would usually offer a nonconflicting option to the vast choice of companies out there.” With full-scale manufacturing having commenced at the end of 2018, the company is now producing the specialist slings and moving and handling devices from its facilities in Leeds, having recruited experienced

“We truly believe there is a growing demand for high-quality, pressure reducing slings.” NEIL SMITH

“A lot of people in the sector do not know that I previously majority owned a very successful, medical sling and moving and handling manufacturing business in Mackworth Healthcare (acquired in full by Prism Medical UK in 2015),” he explained. “However, one of my unfulfilled aspirations whilst leading that company was always to provide a high-grade, pressure reducing range of slings.” After undertaking extensive product and market research, Herida will now look to exploit the company’s expertise in pressure care to offer customers something different which Neil says customers are crying out for. “Our research identified that Pressure=Force/Area also applies in any lifting process. More so, shear effects occur when using tight knitted or weaved polyester type materials that have limited (if any) stretch capacity. These aspects can

management and textile operatives and invested in a range of modern manufacturing machinery and individual testing rigs. THE BENEFITS OF BRITISH MANUFACTURING One of the Herida Group’s key strengths lies in its manufacturing capabilities, which Neil says helps provide the company with a range of competitive advantages. Highlighting the main benefits, Neil commented: “In short, total control, coupled with rapid response and reduced lead times. All with a product quality that you can trust. “It’s British made” is regularly commented as a positive element without the need to mention much else.” This ‘Made in Britain’ signature is also helping the company with its overseas ambitions, acting as a stamp of quality and allowing the manufacturer to take full advantage of | 17

more about…

Herida Healthcare plan to use their expertise in pressure care to deliver a new range of slings to the market

the weakened pound. “Sorry to mention the dreaded B-word, however, Brexit is also approaching whether we like it or not!” continued Neil. “Therefore, we must be selfsufficient, regardless of the outcomes of Westminster and Brussels. Even with the uncertainty of Brexit, people still do like to buy British. “The weak pound has also seen an uptake of “good value exported product”, made in a country that can be trusted for its manufacturing

Neil Smith and the Herida Healthcare team winning an award for product innovation at NAEP 2018

reputation for its innovation in a relatively short amount of time. In 2018, the company was awarded Innovative Product of the Year award at the National Association of Equipment Providers (NAEP) Annual Conference for a hybrid mattress, created through collaboration with Permobil. The balancing act of investing in innovation whilst also remaining commercially competitive is a tight line to walk, but for Neil, a vital one for sustained success.

“We must be self-sufficient, regardless of the outcomes of Westminster and Brussels. Even with the uncertainty of Brexit, people still do like to buy British.” NEIL SMITH

output qualities, that have been demonstrable for many years. Our recent attendance to Medica in November and interest in becoming a Herida distribution partner proved that. We were inundated with applications for distribution agreements.” WHEN TO INVEST IN INNOVATION With its manufacturing and design capabilities, Herida has built a

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“Investment consideration is always a balance against prospective revenue gains, he explained. “However, we believe if you stop innovating, you wither on the vine. There are lots of tax credits available for R&D purposes today. These coupled with remaining grant funding from both the EU (whilst you still can) and UK governments. These help companies take the plunge towards investment into this critical area. “As with running any company,

there is a balanced approach to all things. A balance of investment is always weighed up against the ultimate commercial opportunity. Too much investment and too little return is the worst scenario. Therefore, trust in your commercial staff and their own feedback from the most important people in the equation – the customers!” NOT TREADING ON TOES Now seeking to add new distribution partners to its network, Herida’s Sue Dolman, National Sales Manager & Head of the Group’s Commercial Teams, confirmed to THIIS that the company is careful not tread on its distributors’ toes. “I have always been amazed by manufacturing companies who pair with distribution partners and then “go and fish in their very ponds alongside them”,” she said. “It is not our strategy to work in a close partnership, offering detailed and lengthy training, great pricing, quality product, sales leads, building both of our consecutive brands together and then effectively take the food from their mouths. Therefore, I can offer personal assurances to our current and new distribution partners of which we are seeking, that my team and I will not enter the long-term care or nursing & residential markets and compete with them. We are here to help you grow your business and within your sector.”

Herida says it will continue to concentrate on its core public sector and export markets, where it says it enjoys considerable success with distribution partners in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, China / Hong Kong, Malta, Dubai, Oman and India. Speaking with new export opportunities, Neil said: “Outside of these countries, we would be delighted to speak to true, likeminded distribution partners.” Neil also highlighted why distributors active in the moving & handling market should consider becoming involved with the Leeds-based manufacturer. “If you want loyalty, a holistic offering, with outstanding service support who provide an innovative range, alongside the “stocking filling” standard range, Herida is the clear choice,” he said. “Northern Healthcare are a perfect example of a true partner. The MD Steve Carruth and his team have worked tirelessly alongside us and are a gold standard, ethical partner who works hard for their rewards. I wish

The new sling range promises to bring something different to the industry

we could get a dozen of those.” The new pressure reducing sling range complies to BSEN10535 standards, with Herida offering companies free individual testing or sling test videos with certification upon request. For more information on the new range, contact 0800 1936030.

Neil’s top start-up launch tips


aunching a new start-up successfully is by no means a small feat, with many new businesses failing to survive those early, formative years. With a number of thriving companies under his belt, Neil Smith provides some insightful tips for anyone considering taking the plunge and launching their own start-up. “This is my fourth start-up personally but third within the Herida Group and in conjunction with my business partner John Kay, who also deserves a mention in dispatches for the Herida Group’s successes to date!”


MIND THE BANK BALANCE “My advice would always be as a number one priority, keep a keen

eye on cash throughout! You can have an order book a mile long and great product, but if you have no cash available, you’re stumped. However, meticulous prior planning, identified market demand and good people all form part of the magic recipe.”


DRIVE AND DEVELOP THOSE AROUND YOU “Then comes drive. You must drive businesses like a train, often to exhausting times, and develop the people within them. In addition, you should always believe in yourself. “Your team are everything of course. Without them, you or your business is nothing. There is no such thing as a successful entrepreneur who did it alone. Treat them well and fairly but expect a

pound of flesh in return. Reward them when it goes well and hold them to account when it doesn’t.”


ALWAYS LOOK AFTER THE CUSTOMER “Always look after the customer, no matter how down on your luck you find yourself. They are your lifeblood and they will remember the good things you do in tough times.”


REMEMBER WHY “My last tip is when you’re having self- doubt days - and we all do - remember the good things in life and why you are doing it – your family, partner, your ego, or an end goal; a fancy home, a place in the sun, fast car, a boat. Maybe them all!! Whatever is your thing, aim high and go for it.” | 19

OT perspective

THE QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK BEFORE SPECIFYING A POWERCHAIR… Powerchairs are a great “bridge” for some clients who can’t use a self-propelled chair but don’t want to rely on being pushed. Stuart Barrow unveils the questions you need to ask when considering whether a powerchair is right for your client… 20 |


etting around is a challenge that a lot of our clients face but the reality is that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. For some clients, mobility scooters are the correct choice and for others, they’re not. A wheelchair may be more appropriate but when it comes to wheelchairs, there’s a whole range of different options available. Including powerchairs. WHEN ARE POWERCHAIRS THE RIGHT CHOICE? They can be known as ‘electric’ or ‘powered’ wheelchairs, and they’re ideal for clients who perhaps don’t have the strength and stamina to use a self-propelled wheelchair but don’t want to rely on being pushed. THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN MATCHING A CLIENT WITH A POWERCHAIR How long will the client be out in the chair? Before choosing a chair, it’s vital that you ensure that it’s going to be comfortable enough for long journeys. Lots of chairs may appear to be comfortable when a client first sits on Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and a recognised expert in the field of home adaptations. His experience is sought by manufacturers and service providers looking for an expert opinion. Stuart also runs the Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference (OTAC).

them but it’s important for our clients to test what the chair will be like on an ongoing basis. 20 minutes is the minimum amount of time ideally to test the chair. Does it fit in the car and can it go on holidays? Pretty much all powerchairs fold so it’s usually relatively easy to get one in a car but when working with clients, it’s well worth considering which vehicle the chair will go in and how much space it will take up when being transported. Because of the motor, generally the frame will be heavier than a standard wheelchair. What do they need the chair for? Is it for popping around the corner or doing the shopping? The answer to this question will inform the type of chair a client will choose, whether indoor, outdoor or a hybrid. Similarly, if they’re out and about, then it’s worth bearing in mind that there’s a large selection of wheelchair specific accessories designed to improve the client’s experience. How is it controlled? Most ‘drive controls’ for wheelchairs are essentially joysticks mounted on one of the armrests. These can take a while to get used to, and may be over/under sensitive, so it’s vital to ensure they’re right for our clients and that they are used to the level of sensitivity. Where will it be stored? Storage is important – it needs to fit comfortably in the client’s home, and – ideally – stored near a socket, allowing for overnight charging. Some outdoor wheelchairs may not fit in a home, and as such, will need a garage or another outbuilding to house them. Is the client looking to travel on public roads? There are two types of power wheelchairs: Class 2, which can be used on pavements and Class 3, which can be used on roads as well as pavement.

Are there any kerbs or obstructions on usual journeys? Larger wheeled chairs are best in this scenario, as well as purpose-built chairs designed to overcome kerbs and obstructions. Will the chair be used around the home? If so, the client may be eligible to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant to adapt the home for ramped access and widened doorways. Consider future deterioration too, will a through floor lift be required one day? If so, the wheelchair will need to fit into it. Does it work ‘off the rack’? Usually, wheelchair manufacturers are pretty flexible which means that there’s a good chance that there’s room for manoeuvre and customisation. Generally speaking, an OT can safely assume that a client will be able to have a customised level of cushioning, seat size and length, as well as footplate & armrest height and position. Some powerchairs allow clients to buy a headrest as an optional extra, as well as storage bags designed to fit somewhere on the chair. HIGHWAY CODE FOR POWERCHAIRS If a client is planning to use their chair on public highways, then they must abide by the specific section of the Highway Code that deals with powered wheelchairs and mobility scooters. FUNDING A client may be able to secure funding to help finance the purchase, or part of the purchase, of a powered chair. Typically, the funding is released on a means-tested basis and on the basis of a GP referral, with the money being provided through the local NHS trust. The best first step for the client is to speak to their GP and get the ball rolling. NEXT STEPS If a client is seeking to purchase | 21

OT perspective or rent a powerchair, often the first point of call is the Motability Scheme, enabling disabled people to lease a new scooter, powered wheelchair or car by exchanging their mobility allowance. There are over 700 WAV vehicles listed to help clients choose a vehicle that will support them and their wheelchair. Ableworld also enables clients to click and collect on their website but when a client collects, they will need to work with the staff to assess needs and ensure that the powerchair chosen actually meets the client’s needs. Having stores all over the UK, Ableworld is a great option to start with. Calling Wheelchair Suppliers! As you know, we run OTAC events, and we’d love to help our occupational therapists understand more about choosing the right chair. If you think you can help, drop me a line at

What options are there? When it comes to powerchairs, there’s a huge amount of choice, so it’s worth thinking carefully about why it’s needed and what it’s going to be used for. Typically, it’s best to divide powerchairs into three categories: INDOOR/PORTABLE These chairs can be used in a home or in places with smooth flooring, like indoor retail outlets. If the chair is going to be used in multiple locations, it’s important to ensure that it’s easy to fold, so it can be transported. OUTDOOR Generally speaking, these chairs possess bigger wheels which help them to deal with variable ground and some of them feature suspension, which makes the ride more comfortable.

Although they are typically designed to be used outdoors, it’s worth bearing in mind that because they’re bigger and sturdier than indoor chairs, they won’t always fit through doorways. INDOOR/OUTDOOR These chairs are hybrids, that offer a balance between both the indoor chairs and the outdoor chairs.

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THE BHTA ANNUAL AWARDS 2018 Towards the end of 2018, the industry came together at the British Healthcare Trades Association’s (BHTA) glittering Annual Awards gala to celebrate the achievements of companies and individuals across the healthcare sector for innovation, teamwork and hard work.


he British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) presented 13 different awards to deserving individuals and companies at its sellout 23rd awards ceremony, with more than 250 attendees from 50 BHTA member organisations in attendance. The black-tie event was hosted by the inspirational Simon Weston CBE, a soldier and survivor of the 1982 Falklands War, who was severely

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injured and sustained serious burns to 46 percent of his body when the RAF Sir Galahad was destroyed. ICB Group, the official broker of the BHTA Insurance Scheme, was the main sponsor, along with Surewise, a provider of mobility product insurance and personal assistant insurance to carers. On the night, Alastair Maxwell, Chairman of the BHTA, commented:

“The BHTA Awards Dinner is our opportunity to celebrate success and innovation within our industry. An industry which truly makes a difference to so many people’s lives; an industry I am sure we are all proud to be a part of. “I personally would like to congratulate all of the participants and winners of the awards tonight.” | 25

BHTA Awards 2018



NHS DAC PATIENT SERVICES AWARD This is aimed at companies who are contracted to provide NHS services to new and existing patients utilising excellent customer service and satisfaction.


Independent Living Design Award Having run for over 20 years, the Independent Living Design Award recognises innovative products within the healthcare sector. Daniel Stone, TGA Managing Director, told THIIS: “TGA are delighted and immensely proud to have won the BHTA Independent Living Design Award for the third time.

“The kudos associated with winning this award will enhance awareness of WHILL Model C and strengthen creditability – resulting in more accessibility to end-users. The awards dinner was a great night celebrating success in all things healthcare and we would like to congratulate the BHTA for delivering such a memorable experience.”

THE JUDGING PANEL To decide who would be the worthy winners in the 13 categories, the independent judging panel consisted of a variety of representatives from BHTA member companies, the BHTA Board, the BHTA Council, staff and people that the BHTA works with regarding health and care issues, including professional bodies, patient and voluntary organisations, civil servants and parliamentarians.

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BHTA Awards 2018


Retailer of the Year Now in its second year, the Retailer of the Year Award recognises retailers that provide an exemplary service for its customers. Steve Warburton, Managing Director of Disabled Care & Mobility, told THIIS: “To be voted as “Retailer of the Year” is a great honour and is a reflection of

all the hard work and dedication put in by my staff throughout the year. It is simply the passion for what they do and their professionalism that has brought us this award and for that I am truly proud of them. “When we told some of our customers that we had been nominated for this award they were

genuinely thrilled for us and their kind words along with comments from healthcare professionals made me realise just how highly thought of we are. This sort of recognition makes all the hard work worthwhile… well done to the whole team!!”

BEST CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY AWARD Now in its third year, the Best Contribution to the Community Award celebrates the involvement and support of a charitable/ community organisation or events. Matthew Spooner, Bid Director at NRS Healthcare, said: “Supporting Dave in his work to make disability more widely recognised, through the brilliant Disability Awareness Days has been an easy choice for NRS, as it is our mission to help people gain and remain independence. Dave is genuinely inspirational and his enthusiasm is infectious. Besides which, the disability awareness days

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really are great fun. If you haven’t been to one, you should go!”


MOST EFFECTIVE MARKETING AWARD This award is aimed at those who have developed and implemented a marketing campaign that has delivered measurable business benefits such as increased profit, sales, usage or awareness. Andy Mellor, Head of Business Partnerships & Operations at Fish Insurance, told THIIS: “It takes someone to have an idea, but then a whole team to bring that idea to life and then to help distribute the message. That sums up the collective feeling of pride we feel to win this award. “We were already quite proud of our achievements in this part of our business but to have it recognised in such a high-profile manner and by such a respected panel of judges is the icing on the cake.”


Team of the Year This award recognises teams who deliver a fantastic service to its customers and who go the extra mile in ensuring they get the right advice on the products and services that enable them to remain independent.


Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids said: “As a company, we’re very proud to have received this award and the recognition goes to all of the members of our team: customer-facing, administrative and strategic. “It makes me very proud to have such a dedicated and caring team on board.” | 29

BHTA Awards 2018



A new award from the Association, the Best Innovation Developed with the NHS commemorates companies who collaborate with the NHS on an innovation conceived by a company or the NHS.

Best Service Award The Best Service Award is given to services which have been on the market for under three years. Amy Hadlow, Marketing and Business Executive for Higher Elevation, commented: “We always believe that each customer should be treated as if they are one of our family members and we feel our workmanship, customer relationships and feedback reflects our ethos. “To be Awarded Best Service is truly overwhelming when in a room with some many other worthy companies all committing a high level of service to their customers.”

BEST PRODUCT AWARD Given to products brought to the market in the last three years, the Best Product Award highlights organisations that have successfully brought new products, or adapted existing products, to the market. Holly Jenkins, Jiraffe Divisional Director, told THIIS: “It recognises the hard work, dedication and creativity that have gone into making Standz

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truly deserving of its STANDZ STANDING new award-winning FRAME BY status. JENX Although this may sound clichéd, the real prize however is seeing the benefits being realised by children using Standz around the world and it is this of which we are rightly proud.”



Find out more at

BHTA Awards 2018 WINNER



Named after the National Federation of Shopmobility’s founder, the Tom Hillier Award was created in 1991 and is presented to the Shopmobility scheme that has shown exceptional service to its clients over the past year. Claire McMackin, Manager of High Wycombe Shopmobility, said: “We are bursting with pride for being awarded the Tom Hillier award for providing an outstanding service. As a small local charity it is amazing to have National recognition for the service we provide. “We would like to thank and WINNER congratulate HIGH everyone who WYCOMBE makes High SHOP Wycombe MOBILITY Shopmobility such a fabulous place to work and visit.”

Individual of the Year The Individual of the Year Award recognises an individual who has gone above and beyond for its customers, providing helpful advice about the products and services that enable them to keep independent. Gillian told THIIS: “I am delighted to have won the Individual of the Year Award and feel honoured that clients have taken the time to give such positive feedback, but it is reward enough just to be able to help people maintain their independence. “I enjoy helping others, and treat my clients with the kindness and respect that I would like those close to me to be shown, in a similar situation. I always take time to listen which helps me to understand what equipment is best suited to their needs.”

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD The Lifetime Achievement Award is judged by the BHTA Board and recognises the achievements of one individual throughout their entire career. Karen commented: “Being recognized by a peer group like the BHTA is incredibly validating for me and our entire team at The Hearing Care Centre. “As I think of other Lifetime Achievements recipients who

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preceded me, and the impact they’ve had in their health organisations and in the wider community, I am very grateful to rank among them. WINNER “But I do hope KAREN they don’t think FINCH FROM I have achieved THE HEARING everything I want to CARE CENTRE, IPSWICH achieve – I’m not ready to go home and retire. I’m not done yet!”

pick of the month



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It is the start of the new year, so is now the time to consider stocking some new products? Mobility retail experts from across the industry discuss one product that has stood out to them and why…

Andy Weston, Powerchair Specialist for Better Mobility

Pick of the month: Quickie Jive M Hybrid

The Quickie Jive M Hybrid combines the great outdoor capabilities of the Quickie Jive, with the existing seating system from the Quickie Salsa, producing a very well-priced and well-appointed chair. SpiderTrac suspension, allows it to tackle the outdoors with ease, while the turning radius of its mid wheel drive base gives it good indoor manoeuvrability. “The Jive M Hybrid suits any age or size. Being able to choose from the Zippie and Salsa seating systems means we can make this chair suit a range of people with seating available from 12” wide to 22”. “The CJSM remote with built in

infared and bluetooth connections allows the Jive M Hybrid to give full connectivity to a range of interfaces. I’ve just returned from Budapest where we successfully connected the client’s two televisions, yamaha sound bar, and satellite tv box all up to his Jive M Hybrid, giving him full control of his entertainment. This remote can easily be paired to a range of other home controls including doors, powered blinds or curtains, lighting, and much more. “The Jive M Hybrid is a fantastic allaround chair that we are finding really popular with our clients.

Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility


As we are now in the winter months with dark evenings and very cold weather more people stay indoors, the daily walk to the shops becomes less frequent. This means that exercise is at a minimum. Because of this, the product of the month we are choosing is the Digital Pedal Exerciser. “It helps with circulation and muscle strength, toning the legs and arms and helps to keep the joints moving, ideal for exercising from the comfort of your own home. It is low

impact, easily stores away when not in use. The digital counter shows calories burned, time, revolutions, and strides per minute. “It can be used for both the legs, either whilst seating or lying down and can also be used to exercise the arms, encouraging people to keep moving the joints at a time when they may be more static than usual. Also, after having the Christmas and New Year period they will have been less active leading to more problems with the joints. | 35

pick of the month

Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Pick of the month: Vicair Liberty from Invacare

By their very nature, there can be very few mobility stores, small or large, that do not offer for sale basic manual wheelchairs. These chairs come in a variety of sizes and specifications and can be Transit or Self Propelled. However, the one thing they do not come with is effective pressure relieving cushions. “Many will have a thin foam cushion or maybe a nice colour coordinated seat overlay but these will only offer minimum comfort for a very short period of time. “So, as an absolute showroom basic, it is only right to have a better range of proven pressure relieving cushions that can be matched to the clients’ requirements and added to the sale value with very little extra effort. Indeed, not offering a good quality cushion as an available option could be seen as doing the customer a disservice. “At TPG DisableAids, we will carry a range from Viscos Foam through to High Tech Gel. With prices ranging from £30 to over £400. All staff have been given training in their use and prescription (which is usually given free from the suppliers), however, one of our favourite cushions is the Vicair Liberty. “This cushion is supplied into the UK by Invacare and many of you will know that they do know a thing or two about wheelchairs and can be relied upon to give good training and high-quality product. The Liberty retails for just over £100 and can make the world of difference to the comfort of the wheelchair user and easily add to the average sale value generated by your sales teams.

Dominic Goldsmith, Director of Style Mobility


A good seller for us recently has been Drive’s lightweight wheelchair range from Drive. “The main benefits of the range are firstly, the competitive pricing and more importantly, the flexibility when it comes to sizes and styles. “There is something to fit the needs of most customers.

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PICK OF THE MONTH: ELECTRIC MOBILITY’S RASCAL RIO POWERCHAIR Michelle Mossford, Senior Marketing Manager of Ableworld

When looking to purchase a powerchair it is important to find features that suit the customers lifestyle. When it comes to the Rascal Rio there are many to choose from. It is a modern and stylish compact powerchair ideal for indoor or outdoor use and comes in a fresh, new colour with an easy to use joystick. “The super lightweight portable powerchair easily dismantles making it the perfect choice for transportation and storage in small spaces. Getting the seat position right is easy with simple adjustable arm height and width, flip-up footplate and a padded seat with folded back. “Ableworld offer six-months free insurance on all our powerchairs.

guest article

MOBILITY RETAIL IN 2019: WHAT TO LOOK OUT FOR Looking back at the mobility sector over 2018, Gary Braithwaite, Director of Bayliss Mobility, makes some informed predictions about 2019, including the need for public-private cooperation, the shifting retail landscape and a lucrative, growing demand in mobility scooter accessories. BY GARY BRAITHWAITE, DIRECTOR OF BAYLISS MOBILITY In 2018, innovation and increased funding from governments internationally drove growth in the mobility scooter market. As people continue to live longer, the mobility and disability aids sector continues to grow. If a business can latch onto a useful trend, they’re onto a profitwinner, making this is an area of high research and consistent innovation. In the UK specifically, however, the Red Cross estimated that around four million people in need of a wheelchair or similar could not get access to an adequate mobility aid. Mike Adamson,

the chief executive of the British Red Cross, told the Guardian in July of the basic failures meted out across the country at large. “Every day we see the huge impact something as simple as a wheelchair can make to someone suffering with a broken limb, recovering from surgery or even during end of life care,” he said. “It’s unacceptable that people with injuries, social care needs or even those with terminal illness find themselves scrabbling around to get something so basic.” This is largely down to NHS funding cuts and a general over-reliance on private enterprise and subcontracted services that are not well organised enough to meet the sizeable demand in front of them. Massively increased public-private cooperation or a revolution in social care is needed for

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significant change. As it stands, the UK is also set to leave the EU at the end of March 2019, and with this move comes a great deal of uncertainty across industries. Regardless of how statefunded organisations deal with this monumental shift, private companies will have to be on hand to pick up the pieces and address any shortfalls in required resources for the communities that they serve. This all seems to point towards the onus being on the retail sector to take ownership and provide the essential services for those with mobility needs, rather than social care, which is currently failing the population at large. Although we have seen new brickand-mortar mobility shops opening, this should be seen as bucking the


Gary says online retailers must take the initiative to make their websites more accessible in 2019

trend, rather than setting a precedent. There is a demand for physical shopping spaces, but it is also very difficult to keep a physical shop funded and open. Online retailers must take the lead when it comes to mobility aids and products for elderly and vulnerable people. They must rise to the challenge by ensuring their systems are accessible to all users. When Shopmobility closures force vulnerable service users online, the local community needs to adjust as quickly and with as little hassle as possible. With many people requiring these services less internet-savvy than most, online businesses must ensure that their services are easy to access. Even something as simple as an intuitive page layout or larger text size might make the difference between a vulnerable person purchasing the right piece of life-enhancing technology and them feeling that the product that they need is not available anywhere. Further to this, the discrepancies in what is available to the same



demographic in different parts of the country mean that local spheres of influence will continue to dominate in 2019. If you are deemed to be at risk of falls at home and you live in the Liverpool City Council region, for example, you are eligible for a free telecare package, complete with a fall detector. This service would cost many hundreds of pounds per year in other parts of the country. This particular imbalance has already seen private local telecare provider VNC Lifeline go into liquidation, as the services it provides are now available free of charge. Businesses that provide services that could otherwise be delivered by the public sector should consider diversifying their product ranges to defend themselves against a decision made at a local government level that could put them at risk. When there is a deficit in local services, however, we tend to see an increase in demand from the public in places like online shops, charities and advice centres, such as Citizens

Advice. The latest offers, upgrades and adjustments for mobility scooters are typically discussed among service users in a central hub — whether that’s a Shopmobility store in the town or a local community group. Now, with such spaces becoming less prevalent, that conversation needs to move online. In terms of sales within the industry, the trend that may well grow most in 2019 is the ongoing upturn in interest in accessories for mobility scooters that serve a practical purpose. As people begin to rely more and more on their mobility aids, fitting them with all of the handy solutions to daily life’s problems becomes more important. Storage compartments, alarms and visibility accessories will continue to rise in demand, and the scooters themselves that are fitted with the most adaptations as standard will see the most success in this ever-growing market.

Call to find out more

01787 882 244 or email THS261118

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985

26/11/2018 16:56 | 39

WINNING THE GENERATION GAME As mobility retailers and manufacturers look to kick start a brand-new year by launching new, engaging campaigns to gain attention and attract valuable new business, According Marketing’s John Corellis provides some interesting and useful tips for companies to consider to help maximise the effectiveness of their marketing. BY JOHN CORELLIS, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER AT ACCORD MARKETING As a member of the Mature Marketing Association, I recently attended the BHTA Awards and was delighted to see how our sector continues to innovate and grow year-on-year. There were many deserving winners on the night, proving that originality, care Accord and creativity are at the heart of our Marketing’s John Corellis industry. Hence, to stay ahead in this noisy, chaotic and very competitive industry, we as marketers must continually re-examine how best to reach our key consumer groups, and how best to create the right messages to make them act. And what better time than the New Year to question the status quo and make fresh plans. THE MATURE MARKET First and foremost, with over-50 consumers accessing multiple channels in multiple ways, it is vital that mobility brands understand how to connect with this audience in an authentic and inspiring way. Remember - this is a diverse, experienced and sophisticated group that has many different values, interests and lifestyles, which directly influence their buying habits. By categorising them using strict demographic labels, and only engaging via traditional media outlets, brands are missing out on a whole host of opportunities. Put simply, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so marketing requires a strategic focus on consumers, markets, media influences and competitors. A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE At Accord, strategic planning is the application of thinking that goes hand in hand with According to Accord data, research and evaluation. research, radio stations with a noteworthy audience overFrom analysing market trends 50s listeners could prove an and seasonal fluctuations to effective marketing channel for savvy companies observing competitor activity

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and the consumer’s path to purchase, it is our goal to identify short, mid and long-term opportunities. As part of this commitment to research, we recently released a new white paper that takes a closer look at the over-50s’ consumer journey. Surveying over 1,450 participants, it looks at media channels and opportunities, buying habits and personalisation, technology and the consumption of content and asks the question - are brands effectively marketing products in line with how the over-50s see themselves? By drilling down into each individual decade segment 50-59, 60-69, 70-79 and 80+ age groups - the findings are both interesting and thought-provoking. WHICH RADIO STATIONS DO YOU LISTEN TO?

For example, with the results revealing that over a quarter of over-50s listen to Classic FM, should more mobility retailers include radio as part of their wider marketing mix? Similarly, as TV remains a popular channel amongst older audiences, does DRTV now offer affordable, regional-based options that will help drive footfall to a retail store? And another key takeaway - and I can’t emphasise this enough - is to not underestimate the power of paid social media. Our research not only reveals that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube continue to be popular networking platforms for the over-50s, but also that 2 in every 5 use them to research products and services before they commit to purchase. This statistic highlights the need for brands to have a clear understanding of how their content is being consumed across multiple devices. At Accord, it’s all about targeted messaging, trackable performance and connective response. If you would like a copy of this research, please contact me. Accord Marketing is an integrated marketing agency specialising in the mature market, helping manufacturers and retailers get the most out of their marketing. To find out more, Research suggests social media is popular amongst contact John on 020 7395 9632 the over-50s market, or john.corellis@accordmarketing. pointing to a need for paid social media advertising com



DIGITAL PROJECTS TO IMPROVE SOCIAL CARE RECEIVE FUNDING Nine councils have been awarded extra funding for social care digitisation projects by NHS Digital and the Local Government Association.


ommissioned by NHS Digital and managed by the Local Government Association, the Social Care Digital Innovation Programme tasked councils to create digital pilots to improve systems and integration across the adult social care sector. 12 councils initially received £20,000 each to investigate local

challenges that could be addressed using digital technology. Up to £700,000 has now been made available and nine projects have been selected, including exoskeleton devices for carers. The nine successful councils were Bracknell Forest, London Borough Havering, Isle of Wight, Lincolnshire County, Nottingham City,

Shropshire, Stockport Metropolitan Borough, Sunderland City and Wirral Metropolitan Borough Council.

£1.5MILLION AVAILABLE FOR COMPANIES SEEKING TO TEST MEDICAL DEVICES Announced by Innovate UK and UK Research and Innovation, businesses can now apply for a share of up to £1.5 million to support real-world testing of new medical devices, diagnostics and technologies in the NHS. Innovate UK and the Office for Life Sciences are working in coordination to invest up to £1.5 million in business projects that support the development of new medical devices, diagnostics and regulated digital technology. The funding aims to help SMEs

Deal ON! 42 |

gain enough real-world evidence to support use of their innovations in the NHS. Planning and preparation projects are expected to have costs of up to £50,000 and actual studies to have costs of up to £250,000. Funding will support either the development or design of plans for collection of data on clinical performance and cost effectiveness or studies that actually collect the data. The deadline for applications is at 12pm on the 30th of January 2019.

Available for companies that meet the following criteria: • Small to medium sized companies • Have developed innovative healthcare technology • Have gained a CE marking • Have marketed the product in the UK for under five years

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The answer is YES!

Now, what was the question?

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new to the team

Ex-AJ Way dealer manager joins Direct Healthcare Group


Kent Meredith

ith over three decades of experience working with the healthcare dealer market and with 20 years spent in the riser recliner and specialist seating sector, Kent Meredith has joined the Direct Healthcare Group (DHG) as dealer manager in the UK. Kent formerly worked at AJ Way as a business development manager and dealer manager for eight years and will now be responsible for managing the day-to-day relationships between DHG and its dealer

representatives. Kent told THIIS: “I want to form strong partnerships with dealers, both current and new, and I’m excited to provide a mutual benefit to both the dealer and DHG through my years of industry experience.” Covering the entirety of the UK, Kent will be in contact with all current Direct Healthcare Group dealers to arrange face-to-face meetings to introduce himself and how he can be a key resource and point-of-contact for the dealer over the coming weeks. To contact Kent, dealers can call 07494 056 432 or email: kent.meredith@

NEW TRUSTED ASSESSOR JOINS THERAPOSTURE IN THE NORTH Craig Ward Theraposture has appointed Craig Ward to the role of trusted assessor for Northern England, North Wales and Scotland, joining the company after spending 21 years with Leckey where he was a key representative. During his time with Leckey, Craig undertook a range of activities including client assessment, product lifetime support and corporate education and will now bring his extensive knowledge to Theraposture to strengthen its specialist services. Craig commented: “Since joining I have already set myself personal objectives to expand my knowledge of conditions, especially Parkinson’s, so I can deliver a higher level of understanding and compassion. “In terms of professional relationships, I have spent most of my career working closely with NHS occupational therapists and physiotherapists so I understand the challenges they face in terms of time and budget. My Theraposture region is where I have operated over the last 20 years so can fully appreciate both local and national issues.”

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NEW MEMBER BOOSTS MEDSTROM’S MARKETING TEAM Medstrom Healthcare, a provider of bed management services to the NHS, has welcomed Andy Eley as the new product Andy Eley manager responsible for specialist electric profiling beds and associated products. With a background in product management which includes products such as electrofusion fittings and sinks, Andy joins Medstrom having most recently spent five years at Performance Health in its marketing and product management team. Discussing the appointment. Rachel Apsey, Sales and Marketing Director at Medstrom Healthcare, said: “Not only does he bring experience from within the healthcare industry, but also a unique perspective from different sectors that will be invaluable to Medstrom. The role will see Andy provide both internal and customer training on Medstrom’s beds, as well as supporting the sales team and leading the creation of sales support tools for the company’s portfolio.

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

THIIS team expands with new advertising sales manager THIIS magazine, the mobility industry’s longestrunning trade publication, has expanded its team with the addition of Joe Fahy, who joins the publication as its new Advertising Sales Manager.


ith over 30 Joe Fahy years of advertising experience, Joe will be working on all BHTA Engage publications and introducing companies in the industry to the various packages available to help them reach more customers. On starting his new role, Joe said: “I’m looking forward to the new challenge ahead in joining. I’m also excited to meet everyone in the industry and to learn more about the industry itself.” Having worked in both consumer and trade sectors, Joe has worked for various trade associations in the past, including British Water and the Fitness Industry Association.

He added: “I’ve had two hip replacements, so I already know a bit about the world of mobility. When I saw the job advertisement and looked at the magazine, joining BHTA Engage as the new Advertising Sales Manager really appealed to me. “Having been in publishing for almost three decades, I can tell that the quality of the magazine and the content is great and know I want to help ensure the experience from the sales side of the magazine is beneficial for both our readers and our advertisers.” BHTA Engage publishes THIIS, the monthly trade magazine that has been keeping the industry informed with the latest trade news, products and views for 20 years. The organisation also owns

AT Today, an online resource for healthcare professionals to stay informed about the latest assistive technology innovations on the market. Calvin Barnett, Managing Editor of BHTA Engage, commented: “Having Joe join the team is very exciting and will really help us to deliver more for our advertisers and readers as we enter the magazine’s 20th year. “With our new website and a number of new, popular monthly features introduced last year, the addition of Joe puts us in a very strong position to continue keeping the industry in the know for the next two decades to follow.” To get in touch with Joe, contact him via or on 07384258372.



aving worked in one of the retailer’s most successful stores for the past two years, Tony Leavy has been promoted to the role of buying manager for Ableworld. With sales increasing by over 42 percent during his time managing the store, Tony was involved in regular supplier meetings, refreshing and upgrading ranges of products, as well as accelerating store category reviews. According to the mobility retailer, these product and customer insights will play a vital role as the UK’s largest mobility retailer seeks

to develop its product offering and margins. Commenting on the promotion, Mike Williams, Founder and Managing Director of Ableworld, said: “Being part of the senior management team, Tony will be managing the buying team and liaising closely with myself on improving ranges and margins.” Prior to joining Ableworld, Tony had worked for a number of large retailers, including the Co-operative Group and TK Maxx, working in management for both companies.

Tony Leavy | 45



Annual turnover reaches £165million for NRS Healthcare In NRS Healthcare’s recent annual report for the last financial year, the company reported an annual turnover of £165,183,000, up 2.8 percent on the previous year.


he community equipment provider’s audited financial statements for the year ending 31st March 2018 disclosed it had achieved £5million in profit, increasing £700,000 from the previous financial year. The company’s financial success has been attributed to the winning of a number of tenders, including the Blackburn and Darwen ICES contract, the re-securement of the Northern Ireland Wheelchair Service and ICES contract extensions in Cambridgeshire & Peterborough, Herefordshire, Norfolk and Powys. Predicting strong financial performance in the future, a statement signed off by the board said: “Growth is anticipated to continue in future periods, particularly in the online and digital areas. “The market for the provision of outsourced healthcare contracts continues to grow and there remains a strong pipeline of new opportunities to provide ICES, Wheelchair, Telecare and Clinical services.”

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With an annual turnover just shy of half-a-million-pounds, Essexbased Harlow Mobility is looking for a buyer to take over the business. Formerly trading as 1st Call Mobility, the company developed a successful bariatric division which was sold to Arjo for an eight-figure sum in 2016, leaving the mobility retail store to continue operating under its current Harlow Mobility name. According to an advert on a business sales portal, turnover is currently £473,000 but has the potential to double, highlighting that the current owners virtually retired after the sale of 1st Call, leaving staff to run the shop. Based in the Harvey Centre indoor shopping centre and with a leasehold price of £175,000+SAV, the store has dedicated parking at the rear of the shop for two vans. The business sales portal also notes that Harlow is a growing town with more than 10 thousand homes due to be built in the near future, offering expansion opportunities and a growing customer base.





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MERGERS, ACQUISITIONS AND INVESTMENTS Bariatric rental portfolio expands with Poshchair acquisition Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), a leading provider of bariatric rental solutions through its Nightingale bariatric division, has completed the acquisition of Southampton-based Poshchair Medical.


he acquisition will see Poshchair Medical, a specialist in the supply of bariatric equipment for rental, expand DHG’s reach in the market, building on its acquisition of Wrexham-based Nightingale in 2016. Based in the South of England, the addition of Poshchair Medical to the Group’s bariatric portfolio will provide DHG with the geographic coverage needed to deliver a national offering says Graham Ewart, CEO of DHG. “The synergies that currently sit between Direct Healthcare Group’s Nightingale bariatric rental division and Poshchair Medical’s portfolio offering are evident,” commented Graham. “Further, the acquisition also provides us with the ideal opportunity to expand our geographical scope, allowing us to truly cover the entirety of the UK and significantly reduce rental lead times in the South. Clearly, with both Poshchair Medical and Nightingale, we are the UK’s market leader in bariatric rentals.” Discussing the bariatric rental market, Mark Grinyer, General Manager of Poshchair, told THIIS: “We are seeing a year-on-year increase on


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demand in the bariatric rental market, and this is a trend that is likely to continue. “A study into obesity levels by the OECD in 2017 projected obesity rates of 35 percent in the UK by 2030 and this is seen to directly correlate into an increase in obesity related hospital admissions.” The acquisition will allow Poshchair to meet the growing demands of the industry, with Mark highlighting that the company will benefit from being able to offer DHG’s wider product portfolio for both bariatric and standard equipment for rental. “Whilst we will still continue to offer our current portfolio, we’ll now be enhanced by the offering of a new bariatric bed with integrated weigh scales and will be able to support local trusts through capacity pressures with standard med/surg beds and A&E trolleys,” he explained. In addition, Mark alluded to plans to increase the company’s engineer headcount, service offering and customer support. “Customers of Poshchair Medical can expect the same level of personal

Graham Ewart

customer service and delivery that they have always experienced from myself and Sally Grinyer, Operations Manager,” he added. The acquisition of Poshchair Medical is the latest in a string of acquisitions since the Group was formed in April 2016, following the management buy-out of Direct Healthcare Services.

April 2016

June 2016

May 2017

Feb 2018

May 2018

Nov 2018

Private-equity MBO of DHS

Nightingale acquired

Kirton Healthcare acquired

Karomed’s Transflo acquired

Qbitus acquired

Poshchair Medical acquired




asingstoke-based prosthetics and orthotics designer and manufacturer Blatchford has accepted an offer from private equity firm CBPE Capital (CBPE) to acquire a majority ownership position for an undisclosed fee. Founded in 1890, Blatchford create and distribute premium prosthetic devices to lower-limb patients around the world, with 80 percent of sales coming from outside of the UK. Investing alongside fourth generation family member Stephen Blatchford – who will retain a substantial interest – and the company’s management team led by CEO Adrian Stenson, the private equity firm will support the management’s plans to bring a range of new products to market, as well as help Blatchford expand geographically, both organically and through acquisitions. Stephen Blatchford said: “This investment from CBPE will give

Blatchford the financial firepower to compete more effectively in the global P&O market and grow to become a leading player in the sector.” Adrian Stenson, CEO of Blatchford, commented: “Our industry is advancing rapidly: state-of-theart manufacturing and world-class research and development are capitalintensive. Our partnership with CBPE will allow us to continue to invest in our business, develop our processes, enhance the customer experience and ensure we remain highly competitive and a natural choice for our customers in the global marketplace.” Typically investing in mid-market UK businesses with an enterprise value up to £150m to help achieve growth ambitions, CBPE’s director Naveen Passi led the acquisition and joins the Blatchford Board alongside CBPE partner Ian Moore.

The major mergers and acquisitions that shook the industry from last year February Permobil acquires Ottobock’s OBSS & NUTEC custom seating business Trelleborg Coating Systems acquires Dartex Direct Healthcare Group acquires Karomed’s Transflo cushion brand NorthEdge Capital acquires Platinum Stairlifts

March PennantPark Investment & Nick Parsons acquires AKW

April BraunAbility acquires remaining shares of Autoadapt AB

May Direct Healthcare Group acquires Qbitus Products

August Sunrise Medical acquires Magic Mobility

September NRS Healthcare acquires Complete Care Networks Management buy-out of AJM Mobility Mobility Networks Group acquires IAV

October One Rehab acquires Bartrams Associates

November Merger of Consolor and Millbrook Seating Division

December Direct Healthcare Group acquires Poshchair Medical CBPE Capital acquires Blatchford Winncare Group acquires Mangar Health Management buy-out of Harvest Healthcare | 49


A WINN-WINN ACQUISITION French medical devices supplier Winncare Group has acquired Britishbased inflatable lifting and bathing device manufacturer Mangar Health, as the two organisations seek opportunities for complementary growth.


stablished in 1981 by David Garman in the Welsh village of Presteigne, Mangar created the world’s first powered, portable bath lift before expanding into inflatable moving & handling equipment, releasing popular products such as the Camel and Elk lifting cushions. In 2014, David stepped aside as owner after a speculated £9million management buy-out, with the company enjoying a sustained period of growth in the subsequent years. The acquisition of Mangar Health will now see Winncare continue its European growth ambitions following on from its 2015 acquisition of Danish moving and handling manufacturer Ergolet – which now trades as Winncare Nordic. In particular, the purchase will provide Winncare with fast track access into UK markets where Mangar has established relationships with care providers, local authorities, ambulance services and care homes. Additionally, Mangar’s product range will enable Winncare to service new healthcare markets such as emergency services,

From left: Craig Butcher, Clare Birt, Simon Clardige, Philippe Chene, Andrew Macphail

customers,” commented Philippe Chêne, President of Winncare. “The additional capabilities strengthen and extend the services Winncare are able to offer in the UK and our combined portfolio means we can offer a complete solutions-based approach.” Backed by French investment

“Mangar Health provides an exciting opportunity for Winncare and specifically our products that target community and care home customers.” PHILIPPE CHÊNE

whilst also benefiting from the British manufacturer’s international distribution network in America, Canada and Australia. “Mangar Health provides an exciting opportunity for Winncare and specifically our products that target community and care home

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company IDI, the acquisition for an undisclosed sum will also help facilitate Mangar’s European expansion plans. Simon Claridge, CEO of Mangar Health who will now head up Winncare’s UK operations, said: “Mangar Health returned growth

of more than 16 percent last year and we have identified significant opportunities moving forward, supported by the Winncare name and presence in Europe. “We now have an expanded portfolio of products to introduce to our customer base and the Mangar team are enthusiastic about the fantastic potential because of this acquisition.” Simon will be supported by the current Mangar management team; Finance and Operations Director, Craig Butcher, Commercial Director, Andrew Macphail and Marketing Director, Clare Birt. Marshall Reid, Managing Director of Winncare UK/Ireland will work closely with Philippe & Simon on integrating Mangar & Winncare businesses before moving to corporate functions for the Group, reporting to Philippe Chêne.



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SPECIALISING RATHER THAN DIVERSIFYING With many retailers looking to diversify their product offering, exploring ways to reach more consumers with different products as a means to remain competitive, one retailer in the Midlands is focusing solely on chairs. Husband and wife team Stuart and Justina Nurse, Directors of Stuart Mobility, explain how a decision to specialise rather than broaden its product range and a commitment to price transparency has helped drive continuous, sustained growth online and offline.

The company says its retail model does not rely on footfall, allowing it to keep costs competitive

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THE ORIGINS OF STUART MOBILITY Justina, a former Community Services Manager for Derby CVS, and Stuart, an ex-NRS Healthcare driver, both found themselves taking voluntary redundancy from their roles in 2011 to focus more on looking after their two young sons, eldest Charley and their younger son Fred, who has Asperger’s. A qualified quality assurer, Justina worked freelance so she could work around family life whilst Stuart started working from home, refurbishing and reselling various pieces of equipment online. It was by chance in 2013 that the couple was first introduced to the seating market when Stuart came across a second-hand rise recliner that he decided to refurbish and sell. “We took on a few more and realised there was a niche. These chairs were not cheap, imported chairs but British-made, premium products that many could not afford to buy new,” said Justina. THE SECOND-HAND MARKET Stuart began focusing on taking second-hand chairs, refurbishing them and, notably, delivering them to buyers. “The second-hand seating market is unique,” he said. “Many people really want these chairs but are unable to buy new, so

worked as a sole trader from his home with Justina, refurbishing and selling chairs online, before establishing Stuart Mobility Ltd in May 2015. THE NEED FOR A PHYSICAL SPACE Whereas many mobility retailers’ origins are frequently found in bricks and mortar stores, building their online presence later, Stuart Mobility’s history is the opposite. The company had first envisaged a future purely in e-commerce before realising early on that customers were keen to interact with the company and products offline. “A year before we moved to our first retail premises, we believed, somewhat foolishly, the website would be our shop because we wouldn’t grow substantially,” said Justina. “We invested heavily in our website and, alongside eBay, moved onto our own, e-commerce platform. It is the same website we use today.” The pair soon realised that an online proposition was unable to meet the needs of the business or its customers as demand grew from customers wishing to see the chairs. Stuart and Justina even turned their garage into a quasi-makeshift showroom. “We insulated the garage, installed French doors and more. It still had our tumble dryer in but it became a kind-of mini showroom, as well as

“I think if we diversified, we would be run off our feet and we wouldn’t have been able to grow steadily the way we have.” JUSTINA NURSE

there is a demand to buy secondhand but the biggest barrier people face is collecting them because chairs are not small or light. “The people, often elderly, buying them did not have the means to collect, so we realised our niche was not just selling refurbished chairs but also delivering & setting them up for people.” For the following two years, Stuart

our family utility room,” recollected Justina. FATE FINDS FIRST SUPPLIER During this time, the pair continued selling refurbished chairs from their home until a fortuitous meeting at a set of traffic lights introduced them to the new chair market. “It really was a bizarre meeting,” recounted Justina.

“Stuart was in our logoed van at the A38 traffic lights, preparing to go onto the M1, to deliver some pre-owned chairs. Sat in the lane next to him was Ben Westcott, a sales rep for Repose. We had never met Repose and we didn’t know about them.” Not one to miss an opportunity, Ben beeped his horn for Stuart to pull over, introduced himself and left his card for the two to meet-up. The two parties met at a local coffee shop and Ben introduced Stuart Mobility to Repose’s range, as well as made-to-measure chairs. “He mentioned made-to-measure and measuring customers and I remember thinking, “what do you mean I have to measure the customer?!” It was something I had never done before so it was slightly overwhelming, however, Ben was great. He took out his tape measure there and then and started telling and showing us all about it,” she told THIIS. “This was how we started to move away from refurbishing second-hand chairs and into new chairs. It was the next step in our specialist seating journey.” THE FIRST RETAIL BASE For the seating specialist, the turning point came when a daughter and her mum visited the couple’s home to view a refurbished chair to buy. “Fred had a full-size, electric piano which was also in the garage because it was still our family garage,” said Justina. “Because he is autistic, he doesn’t pick up on signals so I couldn’t drop the hint that we needed to leave the room so Stuart could focus on the mum and daughter. Stuart ended up serving the pair whilst Fred continued to play in the room; it was almost like having background music whilst they were shopping! “The mum and daughter were lovely and bought the chair but I realised we needed our own premises because we had outgrown our garage.” Having traded from their home for just under a year, the husband and wife team made the decision to move to their first retail premises in | 53

retailer spotlight Willington, Derbyshire in April 2016. “As the website grew and more customers came to visit us, we started getting more requests and discovering more customer needs, such as people who were in need of chairs desperately quick for parents coming out of hospital,” recalled Justina. As demand grew, the company began taking on more products, working with more suppliers and learning rapidly learning more about seating, beginning its retail journey in earnest. ANOTHER EXPANSION In October 2018, the company upped sticks and moved to a larger building in Burton-upon-Trent, providing it with substantially more space including an office, showroom, warehouse, disabled access and free parking for customers. “We now have a good selection of chairs from Repose, Cosi-Chair, Primacare and the new Dorchester from Pride but our business has also started to grow in the healthcare range of chairs. We needed more space to showcase and potentially stock more chairs,” said Justina. NOT A MOBILITY SHOP Despite the company’s name, Justina emphasised that Stuart Mobility is not a mobility retailer in the traditional high-street sense. “I didn’t want to call our retail unit a “shop” as we were never dependent on footfall,” remarked Justina.

“We decided being a traditional retail shop just wasn’t for us because we would have to man it nine-to-five, Monday to Saturday, going against the reason we started this in the first place, which is to be there for our children.” In addition, Justina pointed out that specialist seating does not really suit

“We try to stick to British manufacturers as it is one of the last industries of furniture making that this country has left, so it needs to be supported” JUSTINA NURSE

a traditional, high-street retail model: “These chairs are not an emotional or impulse purchase that someone will pick out when window shopping. Most people we deal with call us before they come to the showroom to find out more and ask questions.” The duo’s retail strategy was not always so clearly defined however, with the decision to specialise solely in seating evolving over time. “A couple of years ago, I thought about going down the traditional retail route and had a great location in mind,” continued Justina. “We were a little bit more naïve then, especially when we first had sales reps coming to see us. They were often experts in mobility scooters who happened to also sell chairs along with other mobility products.”

After very briefly flirting with the idea of selling other mobility products, the company has decided to specialise solely on seating

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Convinced to try selling other mobility ranges, the company briefly stocked some mobility scooters in its formative years, with Stuart attending a one-day training course to learn more about mobility scooters. “We quickly realised that people visiting us were not there for mobility scooters and we didn’t have enough

knowledge about them to sell them effectively,” acknowledged Stuart. “I was at a supplier’s scooter training day and learned that as a company, you need to have a different set-up to sell scooters. You need expertise. It really opened my eyes to the fact that these products need a certain level of knowledge to sell.” After the training day, he says Stuart Mobility’s strategy became clearer and the pair decided to stick to what they were passionate about. A STRATEGY OF SPECIALISATION Often, retailers will look at diversifying its product offering to attract a wider customer base, however, for Justina, she underlined that in the mobility industry, selling equipment safely and effectively requires expert knowledge. “We really do not want to sell other types of mobility products. I think if we had become a traditional mobility shop straight off the bat, we might have fallen into the trap of being a jack of all trades but master of none,” she noted. “To do these products and customers justice, you really need in-depth knowledge of wheelchairs, scooters, rollators, hoists, stairlifts and more. Building up all that knowledge takes a lot of time. “Even now, we are still constantly learning something new about seating because there are always new chairs

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retailer spotlight entering the market and innovations being introduced. We see a lot of reps come through our doors telling us something new about chairs and I can only imagine what it must be like trying to do that across the entire breadth of mobility products.” Rather than aiming to be all things to all people in the mobility sector, Justina says she is happy focusing all of her attention on one product range, providing her and Stuart the space to focus on providing high levels of customer service. “I think if we diversified, we would be run off our feet and we wouldn’t have been able to grow steadily the way we have, as we would have needed to borrow to afford to stock, manpower and the general overheads associated with a high-street shop,” she said. MIXING CLICKS WITH BRICKS Now settled in its new Burtonupon-Trent building, the company is seeing more customers visiting its showroom, often finding the retailer through its website. Justina told THIIS she believes the company has found the right combination of online and offline activity. “I read the articles in THIIS about the different thoughts in the industry relating to online vs brick and mortar retailers, especially concerning safety and, for us, we have tried to consciously combine both,” said

Importantly, Justina stressed that any purchases placed directly by customers on the company’s website are telephoned by her and asked qualifying questions to understand what their needs are and if what they have ordered is right for them. “Most internet-sellers and particularly box-shifters would not do that,” she added. In addition, for customers that may be unable to leave the house but want to see and feel the different chairs, the company travels to their home and brings a selection of chairs with them. “This isn’t the notorious salesperson turning up with a brochure and no clear pricing,” explained Stuart. “Customers already have a very good idea of what the prices are before we arrive because we ensure all prices are available online and we bring the actual chairs with us.” Stuart and Justina pointed out that by bringing a selection of chairs to customers’ homes, people are able to understand more about the different fabrics, sizes and styles and how they can fit in with their homes, allowing them to essentially try before they buy. “You really can’t beat sitting in the chairs,” maintained Stuart. “If you are going to spend £1000 on something, be it a bike or car, you want to test drive it a little. You want to sit in it, feel it and really know what you are getting for your money.” Justina added: “We have a website,

“We started small, gave it a try and realised it just didn’t fit with the kind of company we wanted to be” STUART NURSE

Justina. “Yes, customers are able to go onto the website and purchase a chair but not many people are spending in the region of £1000 without asking questions. What we have found is direct sales through our website are extremely rare. Typically, a customer will research on the website, see the prices then phone us.”

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we sell online and we are often cheaper than other retailers, however, people often do not see the extra work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure we are really looking after customers. I think companies can sell online responsibly whilst still ensuring customers are looked after.”

GREATER PRICE TRANSPARENCY ONLINE AND OFFLINE A central component to Stuart Mobility’s retail approach is its transparent pricing model which, according to Justina, is one of the fundamental reasons behind the company’s success. “When we first started, I did my homework and found a lot of retailers did not include prices on their websites, instead, offering to send out a salesperson,” highlighted Justina. “We wanted to make sure that the prices were on our website and this transparency really is our unique selling point. For all ranges, apart from made-to-measure chairs, we show all our prices, including delivery and set-up, so there are no extra costs for customers.” For the retailer’s off-the-shelf ranges, showing prices was a simple decision. With products such as the healthcare range of chairs offering customers a rather extensive range of options at different prices, displaying prices can be a trickier affair. “For our healthcare range of chairs, we were adamant we need to publish the prices online. There are not many companies selling healthcare chairs that have the prices up or will say ‘starting from’ without including the prices for optional extras. I wanted people to know exactly what our prices were, even with the different add-ons,” confirmed Justina. “For us, that price transparency is one of the reasons we are seeing so much success with the healthcare ranges. People like knowing exactly what the prices are.” On Stuart Mobility’s website, visitors not only see the basic price of its healthcare chairs but also the different options available, with the price of each option. When a customer clicks on an add-on, the price of the chair updates on the page so customers have a clearer idea of the price of the product. The pair say more companies in the seating sector need to adopt this model, clearly displaying all pricing so consumers are able to make an informed choice.

“I do understand for some of the complex chairs, such as some of Kirton’s range, these are hard to show the prices for as there are just so many different elements. For a large amount of the chairs on the market though, it really shouldn’t be so difficult to have the prices up.” Stuart added: “By having the prices clearly available, it removes a lot of the opportunity for price conditioning, which still, unfortunately, happens in the industry today.” Additionally, the seating retailer has invested in its own brochure which includes a price guide, something that has been well-received by healthcare professionals, says Justina. “Almost every time I hand it to a healthcare professional and point out the price guide, they say “really?!” They are so used to having reps come out to see them and then offer to send them a quote. “We win business because we publish our prices both online and offline. I do not see why businesses would not and in almost every other retail sector, displaying prices is the norm.” THE IMPORTANCE OF BUILDING TRUST Being a relatively new kid-on-theblock, Justina says she was keen to start building and showcasing the company’s credibility and trustworthiness. Commenting on user reviews posted on social media platforms, she said: “When it comes to reviews nowadays, companies can write their own reviews or there are a number of ways to give a false impression online. We wanted to work with independent organisations who could independently verify our service.” In 2015, the company signed up with Derby City Council’s Buy with Confidence Scheme, a trusted trader program which reviewed the company’s customer service history, policies and procedures. “The head Trading Standards Officer came out to see us at our home as we didn’t have our own place of business at the time, picked seven of our previous customers and said

The husband and wife team have been careful to cultivate the company steadily and organically

he was going to contact each one to find out what kind of service they received,” recounted Justina. “It was probably the most thorough scheme we have dealt with and the only one to check so many of our customers. He also helped us refine all our policies and procedures to ensure they were all correct and legal. We now have a ton of reviews on their website and it really helped us gain valuable credibility.” The company joined other local organisations over the years and, in November 2018, became a member of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA). “We recently noticed that because of all our local associations and listing, we looked very local and thought it was time to think bigger,” clarified Justina. “The BHTA will give us more of a national presence, which will help as we engage with more OTs, as well as community equipment suppliers.” Additionally, the company says gathering feedback from its customers helps the business build and showcase its integrity and ethical way of working. “Our testimonials speak volumes about us,” said Justina. “We’ve been DBS checked, verified by a number of third parties and I make sure that we have customer testimonials online. We have pictures of ourselves on the website as well so when customers ask who is coming

to deliver the chair, we can direct them to the website so they know exactly who is coming to their door. Again, it helps with that element of trust.” A GROWTH IN HEALTHCARE CHAIRS One of the specialist seating segments Stuart Mobility has seen particular growth in over recent years are healthcare chairs, however, the demand originated from the company’s growing understanding of the needs of its customers. “The demand first came from the domestic market and was born from the public ringing up and asking for chairs, but after going through the assessment with them, they would ask for little things which we started to pick up on,” described Justina. “Has it got wheels for example? We would say it has castors but the customer would say they were after big wheels, which is a porter chair. Or they would ask for a rise recline with a specific fabric. So, we first went to Repose and said to them that we need to learn everything we can about your healthcare ranges.” As their knowledge of the different healthcare chairs on the market grew and by showcasing both the products and prices across its literature, Stuart Mobility began to receive enquiries from other areas of the market. “We started to see considerable interest from care homes, who were | 57

retailer spotlight interested in the healthcare ranges,” continued Justina. “Our approach has been largely similar to the service we provide to domestic customers. We load the van up and take a selection of healthcare chairs to care homes, pointing out that we are not medically trained.” “We go into those environments, line the chairs up, explain what they all do then step back. Healthcare professionals examine them, ask us what the chairs can and can’t do and we use our product knowledge to inform them what the chair is capable of and if we are able to supply it.” CAREFULLY SELECTED SUPPLIERS Over the years, Stuart Mobility has built close ties with a number of its suppliers, carefully deciding which products to offer customers. The company has continued its focus on British-made chairs, just as it did when refurbishing chairs from its garage over half a decade ago. “As a rule, we try to stick to British manufacturers as it is one of the last industries of furniture making that this country has left, so it needs to be supported,” said Justina. “Also, they are often high-quality and well-made chairs, so if we do have a problem, the reps are here. It is the reason why having good reps is so important and we are fortunate enough to have a great relationship with ours.” As well as having good working relationships with the manufacturers it works with, the couple explained that they also look to ensure they stock and sell chairs where there may be gaps in their offering. “It really is driven by customer need. As the number of customers increases, we come across different needs and gaps in our range where we may not have a solution for which needs to be filled,” said Justina. “We are picky over what we sell but are always open to have the conversation and find out more about a product.” WALKING BEFORE RUNNING By sticking to its strategy and staying true to the notion of developing

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organically, Stuart Mobility has achieved impressive, sustained growth over the past three years. Justina told THIIS that turnover has more than doubled year-on-year since its launch in 2015: “This year, we are on track to double again and each year, we reinvest everything back into the company, with two new vans last year, the move to the new premises, new product ranges and more.” From humble beginnings, selling reconditioned chairs from the family home whilst their son played the piano, to its current operations, the pair say they are careful to ensure it can walk before attempting to run. “We are quite proud of ourselves,” said Stuart, modestly. “We have taken little baby steps every time, making sure not to overstretch ourselves. We could have tried expanding earlier or borrowed lots of money to accelerate the growth but we have been careful to keep growing steadily. We also haven’t borrowed anything to get to where we are today.” This gradual journey has allowed the company to figure out and refine its strategy and identity, giving it room to find its feet without fear of failure. “Trying out scooters was the perfect example of that. We started small, gave it a try and realised it just didn’t fit with the kind of company we wanted to be,” added Stuart. “Funnily enough, it was only after

trying it that it became clearer exactly what kind of company we wanted to be.” PLANS FOR THE FUTURE Speaking with Justina, she underlined that the company is standing firm with its decision to specialise in seating, with no plans to diversify on the horizon. “Our specialist knowledge and the way we are approaching retail gives us an edge in the market, however, all that knowledge is in my and Stuart’s heads,” she observed. “Expanding the team is a priority. First for backup services to help take on the day-to-day admin, which will then free me up to go out and be more consumer-facing, as well as to start training and developing another me essentially.” With ambitions of becoming a key supplier for community equipment providers and growing its healthcare activities, the couple stressed all steps have to continue to be small and manageable. “What is important is that I never want to lose that customer service ethos which drives us, so we’ll be sure to continue as we have been, one step at a time,” finished Justina.

If a photo is worth a thousand words, how many is a video worth? In 2019, the company plan to use the power of video to increase transparency and trust online by having professionally shot showcase film made, detailing the entire Stuart Mobility consumer journey. Justina Nurse, co-director of Stuart Mobility, told THIIS: “We want to highlight to customers that Stuart Mobility sells chairs but I think it is equally as important to sell us as a company and those values which are so important to us.” As well as a showcase video, the retailer is also planning to produce its own demo videos, featuring both husband Stuart and the chairs. “Some of the manufacturers already produce their own demo videos, however, we want to create our own with Stuart in them,” she continued. “This way, we can demonstrate our knowledge, raise brand awareness and really tailor the information to what our customers are after.” The idea has its merits helping with the sales process as well, with a 2015 study by Animoto revealing four out of five customers believe demo videos were useful in the buying process.


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The Bullens team

The Algeos team The Crispin Orthotics team

CHRISTMAS CHEER TO SAVE THE CHILDREN Mobility, independent living and healthcare companies across the country threw on their most festive Christmas jumpers to participate in Save the Children’s Christmas Jumper Day and help raise funds for needy children on the 14th December. Check out the companies that aimed to help make children’s world’s better by putting on a bright, funny and sometimes crazy Christmas sweater.

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The Caretech team

The Sumed team

The RKSOT team

The Simple Stuff Works team

The TGA Mobility team

The Clearwell Mobility team The Reliance Medical team

The Harvest Healthcare team | 61

The Kymco team

The Gordon Ellis team

The Premiere Healthcare team

The SP Services team

Portable sling for people with restricted mobility wins prestigious award Able Move, a start-up company that has developed a portable sling for disabled travellers, has won the Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs 2018. easyjet Founder Sir Stelios HajiIoannou awarded Able Move’s founder, Josh Wintersgill, with a £30,000 prize, which the company will use to scale up and reach the 1.3 million passengers of reduced mobility

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travelling in and out of the UK each year, as well as the many globally. Josh was inspired to create the Able-Move sling so people with mobility issues can be transferred safely, comfortably and with dignity to and from aeroplane seats. The Founder, who has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, says he faces many physical challenges himself, but is determined to help disabled people overcome the

difficulties associated with travel. The Stelios Award for Disabled Entrepreneurs, jointly run by the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation and Leonard Cheshire, started 12 years ago and recognises the achievements of disabled entrepreneurs in the UK.


Your Mobility’s seating display receives positive feedback at exhibition Welsh seating specialist Your Mobility reported positive feedback from healthcare professionals regarding its new and updated range of lightweight, portable seating options.


he Monmouth-based supplier of chairs designed for elderly and disabled people exhibited at 2018’s OT Show, with its Chelsea Easy Glide chair highlighted as one the best personal independent products on display by a panel of occupational therapists. Howard Smith, Director of Your Mobility, told THIIS explained the decision to exhibit at the show: “I am a great believer that occupational

therapists are very influential as to what products are recommended or prescribed to help elderly and disabled people live more comfortably. “Attending the OT Show was part of a new promotional campaign aimed at raising awareness and product knowledge to occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals. Your Mobility’s national product support manager Diane Smith confirmed chairs can be delivered

within 72 hours of ordering and also available to be rented for more shortterm requirements as well.

MOBILITY RETAILER INVESTS IN PERSONAL DIGITAL DEVELOPMENT The digital world is one of constant innovation that offers savvy companies new ways to do business. Aiming to take full advantage of this, People First Mobility’s Karen Sheppard recently completed the first module of the The Duke of York Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award’s (iDEA). A free international programme that helps participants develop digital, enterprise and employability skills through completing online modules, Karen was awarded iDEA’s bronze badge having successfully completed a number of digital topics, including growth hacking,

social media, web development and GIF making. “To achieve this award is an accomplishment personally, both as a mature learner and also after having chemo and the ongoing medication for cancer. A side effect

of going through that process is that the brain isn’t as good as it once was so to keep on the learning path and give the brain things to do is a way of keeping it healthy and active,” she told THIIS. “Also, it’s making sure that in the world of fast-growing technology and digital advances, I can stay one step ahead and always be looking at ways to grow.” Now working towards completing the rest of the program, Karen highly recommends the iDEA program to other retailers in the industry. | 63


Mobility Showroom Manager – Cheltenham

Full-time Showroom Assistant – Cheltenham

OTE £27k-£30k pa

OTE £21k-£25k pa

Position Type: Permanent

Required: An experienced Mobility Showroom Manager for our New CareCo Showroom opening in Cheltenham.

Planning day to day operations and reviewing results.

Obtaining, interpreting and acting upon sales information.

We are looking for someone with a strong managerial retail background, and ideally experience in the mobility industry, to make our new showroom in Cheltenham a success, and build upon the CareCo (UK) Ltd name. You will be responsible for, and be part of, a customer focused team, ensuring delivery of sales targets and KPI’s whilst ensuring our exceptional company service standards are maintained. Job Description: •

Managing and motivating the team to achieve sales targets.

Maintaining and improving operations by initiating, coordinating and ensuring compliance to policies and procedures.

Managing showroom stocks, layouts, pricing, and promotions.

Ensuring staff have the product knowledge to sell effectively and enhancing this knowledge as required through effective communication and training.

Training, coaching and appraising staff.

Promoting the business by liaising and engaging with relevant local bodies

Skills: • • • • • • • • • • •

Leadership Sales driven Commercial awareness Confidence, drive and enthusiasm Good numeracy and IT Initiative Eye for detail Good verbal and written communication skills Customer focused Staff Training People handling

To apply:

CareCo provide top quality mobility products at the UK’s lowest prices. Our showrooms are designed so that out our customers not only have an amazing shopping experience but also by getting the right advice from our fully trained sales advisors on mobility products suitable for their needs, enables them to promote their independence and quality of life both around the home and outside.

Assist customers in selecting the best products to suit their needs.

Answering Showroom calls.

Keeping the showroom to the correct standards, including general housekeeping.

As a leading independent distributor with over 13 years’ experience within the mobility industry as a group, we, at CareCo, pride ourselves on our growing reputation for supplying quality products, value for money and excellent service.

• •

Due to our rapid expansion, we are looking to recruit a full-time Mobility Advisor in our new Cheltenham showroom, and we provide extensive training to enable you to develop a rewarding career in the mobility industry.

• • • • • • •

Hours of work are 9am to 5pm, five days a week including weekends.

Send in your CV for the attention of Matthew Smith at

Core Functions: •

Promote, sell and secure orders from existing and prospective customers through a relationship-based approach.

Demonstrate products and services to existing and potential customers

Requirements: •

Ideally have a sales background, but not essential as training is provided Good Customer Service Skills Good interpersonal skills – Day to day interaction with customers from all ages and all walks of life Ability to organise own time and multitask Good telephone manner Computer literate Polite Flexible Be driven to succeed Strong team player Excellent verbal and written skills

To apply: Send in your CV for the attention of Matthew Smith at

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trusted recruiter Technical Specialist

Area Sales Manager

Northern England - £23k (plus profit sharing bonus)

North East and Scotland - £32k basic (uncapped commission of 2% paid on all sales plus a bonus) Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland and up to central Scotland

Our client is a leading supplier of innovative postural and seating products for both Children and Adults. Employing over 100 people across the UK and Ireland. With over 20 years in existence. They are seeking a Technical Specialist or Service Engineer to carry out quite basic repairs and audits of their products in customers’ homes, schools and hospitals etc. As well as helping to build relationships with existing customers and clients along the way. Products mainly include walking and standing aids. This is an excellent opportunity for someone looking to start a role within the private mobility/disability sector or wanting to work for a well-established company offering career progression along the way. As the product range is not too technical the candidate does not have to be too mechanical minded but more so have an understanding or have worked with therapy products. Perhaps been a therapy assistant or Technical Instructor. Must be willing to travel as will be covering the whole of Scotland and North of England From Cumbria and Durham up. Base Salary of £23k plus Profit sharing bonus, Company Van, Life Assurance, Pension, 20 days holiday plus bank holidays. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trustedrecruiter. Including job reference 489 to discuss further.

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

Our client is a leading manufacturer and distributor of patient handling equipment having been in business for over 40 years. Their products include hoists, slings, manual transfer products and other disability aids. Due to continued growth, they are now seeking an Area Sales Manager to sell their range of patient handling equipment into community, schools and acute sectors. This will also involve carrying out product training and demonstrations with healthcare professionals both paediatric and adult. Looking to grow the territory and locate new contacts. This is a great opportunity to work for one of the fastest growing companies in the sector, who offer excellent rewards for good achievement. Ideally, candidates will have experience of having sold into the community. Those with patient handling equipment experience is no essential but will be advantageous. The candidate can be situated in either the North East or Scotland and willing to travel the above territory. A lock up for demo equipment will be given. An excellent package incl. Salary of between £32k, Uncapped commission of 2% paid on all sales plus a bonus. VW Transporter, phone, tablet, company credit card, pension, 33 days holiday. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trustedrecruiter. including job reference 486 to discuss further.

Product Specialist South West - £35k (plus commission) Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, South Wales, Cornwall and Devon Our client a large, highly recognised manufacturer and supplier of mobility and rehabilitation products for both paediatric and adult market. With over 50 years in business and with continuous growth and internal promotions. They are now seeking a product specialist or therapist to carry out assessments and demonstrations of their products in the South West. You will be responsible for working closely with occupational therapists and physiotherapists products offered will be their seating and standing aid products mainly in the paediatric market. The ideal candidate will have experience of having worked with rehab or mobility equipment. Occupational therapy, sports therapy, physiotherapy candidates will also be considered. This is an immediate start opportunity. Salary being offered is 35k plus commission structure, company van, pro rota holiday. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to Antony@trustedrecruiter. Including job reference 487 in order to discuss further.

0333 0144 014 | 65

diary dates January 28–31, 2019 Arab Health - Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre February 6, 2019 Hallmark Hotel, Chester - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 March 14, 2019 QEF Kids Equipment Open Day - QEF Mobility Services, Carshalton March 21, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry www. March 26 & 27, 2019 Naidex - NEC March 29 – 30, 2019 Living Limitless - Sandown Park, Surrey April 17-18, 2019 Medtrade Spring - Las Vegas April 24, 2019 Weetwood Hall, Leeds - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 April 31, 2019 Imperial Hotel, Torquay - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 May 15-16, 2019 Med-Tech Innovation Expo 2019 – NEC, Birmingham May 16, 2019 Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre June 12, 2019 Hallmark Hotel, Cambridge - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 June 17-18, 2019 COT Annual Conference – ICC Birmingham June 26 - 27, 2019 Health+Care – Excel London July 4, 2019 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West - Bristol July 10, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Reading - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 July 15 - 17, 2019 Posture & Mobility Group Conference Telford International Centre, Shropshire July 14, 2019 – 28th Disability Awareness Day annual event Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington September 11, 2019 – Hilton Hotel, Southampton – OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) – or call Sally on 02921 900402 September 18-21, 2019 Rehacare – Dusseldorf October 6-7, 2019 Trade Days – NEC October 9-10, 2019 The Care & Dementia Show – NEC October 22, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Newcastle - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 November 6, 2019 The Spa Hotel, Kent - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402 December 4, 2019 St David’s Hotel, Cardiff - OTAC (Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference) or call Sally on 02921 900402

Deal ON! 66 |

Training Diary If you are providing training for the trade, then simply send us the details of the course, the date, any costs, the venue and the contact for booking places and we’ll include it in the Diary. Email with any details you have. January R82 - Seating Assessment Training (SAT) – 30th January Halesowen, West Midlands - FOC QEF - Accessible Aviation: in the cabin with disabilities – 10th January – Leeds - £114

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

March Jiraffe - Training for Life – Sleeping, Standing and Mobility Course – 6th March - Sheffield – FOC Jiraffe - Training for Life – Seating and Toileting Course – 13th March - Sheffield – FOC

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

Contacts for bookings Electric Mobility – Call Rebecca Bateson on 01460 258158 or email Jiraffe – call +44 (0)114 285 3376 or email marketing@ QEF – Contact Marion D’Moirah on 0208 770 1151 or R82 - Tel: +44 (0)121 561 2222 or email

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






The new TGA VITA E Affordable stylish comfort

Call to find out more 01787 882 244 or email THS261118

Team of the year

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985

THIIS January 2019  

It's a new year and a new issue of the mobility industry's longest-running trade magazine! In the January issue, THIIS catches up with a ret...

THIIS January 2019  

It's a new year and a new issue of the mobility industry's longest-running trade magazine! In the January issue, THIIS catches up with a ret...