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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 258 • March 2020

THIIS Issue 258 March 2020

TRADE MAGAZINE

Diving into the South Coast Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Lifestyle and Mobility set to bring specialist expertise to the busy Bournemouth arena

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welcome

…from the editor Naidex approaches…

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

I

t is that time of the year again when thousands of end-users, healthcare professionals and trade professionals descend on Birmingham’s NEC to see exciting innovations and meet exhibitors, new and old. Interestingly, this year’s event takes place during pretty uncertain times. Before, when I wrote of uncertainty, it was usually surrounding Brexit, however, Coronavirus seems to be looming concern hanging over the UK in 2020. At the time of writing, cases have spread beyond the borders of China and even Asia, with towns and cities in Northern Italy being isolated to contain an outbreak in Europe. It is yet to be known how big of a threat Coronavirus will pose to public health but in terms of trade, its effects are already being felt across supply chains amid China’s prolonged factory and port shutdowns. For the mobility sector, this means potential supply shortages – more so in the mid-term than short-term if suppliers’ forecasts are correct. The result has been some retailers making preparations to enable them to weather the storm, such as Ableworld confirming it has invested around £600,000 in additional stock. With the true impact of a potential pandemic yet to be known, THIIS is interested to know if any other retailers are taking measures to prepare for the worst, whether it is buying extra stock, avoiding this year’s Naidex or just stocking up on hand sanitiser – either way, let us know. For those of you who are attending this year’s event, the THIIS team will be at Naidex for both days and would love to meet you to discuss potential news stories, hear your thoughts on trade topics or just say thanks for reading. Drop any of us an email or a line and we’ll be happy to arrange a time to grab a coffee and have a catch up. On to the issue at hand, or rather the issue in your hand - this month’s THIIS has a particular focus on powerchairs and stairlifts. With spring approaching and warmer months en route, it is the time of the year when suppliers bring new scooter and powerchair models to the market and in 2020, one supplier is bringing both in just one product! We also review the influence of Personal Wheelchair Budgets on the private powerchair market, with industry experts sharing their insights. With stairlift safety in the spotlight, THIIS hears five stairlift experts’ thoughts regarding whether a registration similar to the Gas Safe Register is needed in the sector. We look forward to seeing you at Naidex!

Calvin Barnett Editor

Editor

Calvin Barnett 01933 278086 newsroom@thiis.co.uk

Advertising

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

Sub-editor

Sarah Sarsby sarah@thiis.co.uk

Stay up to date with THIIS: TRADE MAGAZINE

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

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contents

24 PWBs powering up the private market?

Features 14 DHAIS’ rise & decline 52 Monarch’s head turners 64 Motion elevates innovation

Regulars

56 Rising to the next level

10 Trade talk… 36 The OT’s Perspective 42 Buyers Guide to…

72 Retailers’ Picks

62 Let’s get it clear 72 Retailers’ Product of the Month 78 Recruitment 4 | www.thiis.co.uk

36 Staying relevant

38 Trade talk


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STAIRLIFT PROVISION CALLED INTO QUESTION A woman from Bath who tragically lost her elderly mother following a fatal fall involving her stairlift has called into question the policy of stairlift provision by local authorities, with members of the trade sharing their thoughts.

I

n a letter to her local newspaper, 53-year-old Teresa Fowler described how her 74-year-old mother Dorothy fell from the top of her stairs in her mother’s home whilst “the stairlift chair was still at the top of the stairs but one of the armrests was up so it looked like she had tried to get on it.” Ms Fowler said the fall resulted in devastating injuries: a 12-inch gash to her head, a fractured collarbone, seven broken ribs, a broken femur and multiple soft tissue injuries

6 | www.thiis.co.uk

including the degloving of one of her fingers. Speaking with THIIS Magazine after writing her letter, Teresa confirmed her mother had been assessed for eligibility and approved the grant to have the lift installed and fitted in 2013, with servicing and maintenance the responsibility of the housing association. After installation, Teresa pointed out that she had raised several safety concerns regarding the

installation with her local authority, including access to the front door being blocked by the chair when in use and her mother being required to turn around and sit down on the seat at the top of the flight of stairs “with nothing to steady herself on or stop herself from falling but a fold-up armrest.” “We complained at the time but were told by our local authority it was too late to have it moved,” Teresa said.


“I even discussed the possibility of having the entire doorway turned around so the front door opened on the other side, away from the rail, but they said mum had accepted the installation and they could do no more.” A year before her death, Teresa’s mother had suffered a fall in her home which led to a three-week stay in hospital before being discharged. According to Ms Fowler, an OT assessment from the local hospital’s falls team was carried out following the fall to review Dorothy’s home environment, however, did not identify that her lack of balance or mobility could make future use of the existing stairlift unsafe. “Since I wrote my original letter, I have found an Occupational Health Assessment dated almost exactly a

“I imagine that is because children exercise poor judgement, are unsteady on their feet and have little ability to foresee the consequences of their actions. “I can tell you from personal experience with my own mother, and after years spent working with the elderly, that they often suffer from the same poor judgement, unsteadiness and cognitive impairment. “Our fabulous MP, Wera Hobhouse, has promised to raise the issue with Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government to ask for their assurances that the safety regulations surrounding stairlifts are regularly reviewed and to convey my concerns about their use in private homes.” Reading her initial letter, Doug Jack, Managing Director of Australian-based

“Stairlifts are not fundamentally unsafe when specified and used correctly.” DOUG JACK

year before her death that failed to notice or highlight the risk using the stairlift posed to her safety,” Teresa emphasised. After her mother’s fatal accident, Teresa said she did not blame the local council, housing association or stairlift company for her mother’s death as they had all “fulfilled their duty” but said she felt compelled to call into question how stairlifts are assessed and provided to the vulnerable and elderly. “Please be clear - I do not blame the stairlift manufacturers or the industry,” she said. “I made sure to say that Mum wanted to stay in her own home and for a number of years and having this piece of equipment installed had allowed her to do so. It is not a one size fits all solution though.” In her letter where she raises numerous points, Teresa wrote: “One final point I would like to make about their safety and suitability is that they come with a warning that they are not to be used by children.

8 | www.thiis.co.uk

stairlift firm Ideal Stairlifts, shared his concerns regarding alleged aspects of the installation and also raised the point of local authorities installing older, recycled stairlifts. “Local authorities have, for many years, recycled aged stairlifts that do not conform to current safety or design standards,” he said. “I myself visited a lady in Derbyshire some years ago in the capacity of newly appointed MD for Brooks Stairlifts. This lady had been using a Brooks Supreme stairlift and experienced gearbox failure and crashed down the stairs under freefall. She thankfully survived but suffered horrific leg injuries. “The stairlift was at least 10 years old and had been recycled by the local authority, despite not complying with the standards in force at the time. It had been installed by their contracted installation company. It had not been handled by Brooks since its manufacture all those years before. We had only shortly before contacted local authorities to advise

them that the use of stairlifts without overspeed governors was hazardous. “Of course, despite offering modern compliant replacements at below trade price, we were accused of scaremongering and profiteering… until it was too late.” Suggesting that the re-use of ageing stairlifts within the grant system should be looked at, Jack added: “Stairlifts are not fundamentally unsafe when specified and used correctly. They are designed and approved for use in private homes and are generally less suitable for aged care establishments. “Sometimes, however, when conditions deteriorate, the user is no longer safe and alternate solutions should be looked at.” The letter comes following a THIIS interview with Dolphin Lifts Midlands in February where the Midlands firm’s managing director and general manager highlighted their growing concern regarding private secondhand sales of stairlifts on online marketplaces such as eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace. Fuelling what the pair described as DIY installations by those unqualified to fit the devices, Steve Wilson, General Manager of Dolphin Lifts Midlands, told THIIS: “There are so many ways that these devices can go wrong with awful consequences if not installed correctly. “The industry needs to be properly regulated and I think the second-hand market for these products is an area that needs looking at.” To read Teresa’s full letter and Jack’s response, visit www.thiis.co.uk and search ‘stairlift letter.’

In this month’s Trade Thoughts, THIIS asked five industry professionals their thoughts whether the introduction of a formal registered stairlift installer system is needed in the industry? Turn to page 10 to read their thoughts.


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TH UGHTS…

TRADE

DOES THE STAIRLIFT SECTOR NEED AN ACCREDITATION SYSTEM SIMILAR TO THE GAS SAFE REGISTER? With safety being the hot topic of discussion, THIIS asked five stairlift experts whether a formal accreditation system, similar to that in the gas sector, is required in the stairlift market… 10 | www.thiis.co.uk

Amy Hadlow Business Manager of Higher Elevation

The sector would hugely benefit from a formal governing body or industry recognised qualification similar to the Gas Safe Register. “There are NVQ qualifications available for the installation, servicing and repair of stairlifts, however, these are not compulsory across the industry. There is a lack of stairlift knowledge among consumers and with stairlifts often being referred to as ‘white goods’, it leaves a vulnerable gap for noncompetent persons to take up DIY removals, installations or repairs of stairlifts as a side hobby. “A recognisable stairlift accreditation like the Gas Safe Register for companies or people in the sector would increase consumer awareness and confidence, as well as safety. Importantly, it would need to enforce high-quality working standards through an exam and/ or regular site audits, rather than a money-led scheme. There would need to be a strong presence around the importance of complying to and maintaining the accreditation to remain on the register. “Stannah offer something very similar for their dealers, the Stannah Certificate of Excellence: dealers have to send every employee on the course to obtain their qualification and companies are audited annually. Those who fail either lose the chance to sell Stannah’s lifts.

Paul Stockdill Sales & Marketing Director of Handicare

Stairlifts should always be installed by manufacturer trained engineers. This applies to new and reconditioned stairlifts to ensure they’re fit for purpose, as well as safely and reliably installed. “Handicare provides free training for all its dealer partners, as well as our own engineers, to ensure they’re fully aware of the latest modifications and improvements to our stairlifts. “When we receive enquiries from the public, we provide information about what they should consider when buying a stairlift, including their individual mobility needs as well as their home layout. This includes a guide to buying reconditioned stairlifts, so they can make an informed decision that isn’t just about the price. As responsible retailers we should all make sure consumers are aware of the risks of buying secondhand stairlifts which haven’t been properly refurbished, or which aren’t being fitted by trained engineers. “An accreditation system may help consumers understand the importance of buying stairlifts which are fit for purpose and professionally installed, but the responsibility is all of ours, to ensure people are making the right buying decision for the right reasons.


Nick Mellor Managing Director of The Lift and Escalator Industry Association

We are concerned to hear reports about untrained professionals fitting stairlifts. This is a very specialist area and installation should never be undertaken by unskilled personnel, for both their safety and that of the client. There is a Level 2 NVQ covering maintenance and installation of stairlifts which installers should have. We would welcome a formal qualification and accreditation in this field, but this would need government legislation. “Without this legislation currently, a focus for us is on ensuring that we drive up the standards of our own members installing and maintaining stairlifts. For example, our members have all been certified to ISO 9001, OHSAS 18001 / ISO 45001, signed up to our Safety Charter and Competency Plan which commits them to enrol their new starters on suitable NVQs. “In the absence of formal regulations, we also set up a Personal Lifting Group (PLG) whose members have made a commitment to work to a code of practice in this field. “The installation and testing of new stairlifts is covered by the Supply of Machinery (Safety) Regulations and standards such as BS EN 81-40. Whilst the you cannot avoid stairlifts being removed and potentially used elsewhere, good contractors should always make essential safety checks of the equipment and test the reinstalled stairlift in the same way that a new unit would be tested.

Alastair Gibbs Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

My concern over a central regulating authority would be the impossibility of enforcing its application. The cost would be enormous in terms of inspection and certification, let alone the publicity needed to let the buying customers know that the installer must be accredited. This cost would inevitably be borne by the customers that complied and therefore it would make the acquisition of a stairlift too expensive for some. I believe self-regulation would be far more acceptable by the promotion of the BHTA Code of Practice, which in turn needs to get more teeth to deal with those that blatantly ignore the rules as set and endorsed by CTSI - this control should extend to monitoring non-member companies. It would be almost impossible to stop the trade in used stairlifts being sold by private individuals, but that is driven by demand. If the trade can keep the products affordable then customers are more likely to use a reputable installer.

Gareth Watkinson Managing Director of Dolphin Mobility Yorkshire & Cumbria

Given the size of the homecare market and the fact it’s rising year on year from better health and living conditions, calls to raise industry stairlift standards is welcome. “However, a national level of engineer registration similar to “Gas Safe” maybe a little over the top for what the industry needs. While a badly installed stairlift may pose a hazard, it is nothing in the same danger league as a faulty gas appliance. “I also think a Gas Safe style accreditation would advantage and potentially be open to misuse by larger companies, leaving the smaller independent organisations behind and in the cold. “There is already an NVQ for stairlift engineers to get accredited to. I feel it is the retailer’s and manufacturers’ responsibility in the industry to push through NVQ compliance and to instil safe working guidelines.

DO YOU HAVE A TRADE THOUGHT YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WITH THE INDUSTRY? GET IN CONTACT WITH CALVIN BARNETT AT CALVIN@THIIS.CO.UK TO SHARE YOUR INDUSTRY OPINION

www.thiis.co.uk | 11


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Hearing and Mobility has left the sector but other players stand ready to take its place

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THE RISE AND FALL OF HEARING HEALTH AND MOBILITY Entering the mobility sector in the late 2000s, DHAIS pursued arguably one of the most ambitious mobility retail strategies the sector had ever seen, boasting 27 retail branches in its nationwide network in its heyday. Fast forward 12 years and in February 2020, DHAIS confirmed that it had appointed administrators for its mobility division. THIIS investigates what happened to the once-mighty mobility retail proposition.

B

efore entering the mobility retail arena, Cardiff-based DHAIS was originally a freelance marketing company, generating sales leads for digital hearing aid retailers, manufacturers and distributors in the United Kingdom.

14 | www.thiis.co.uk

In the late 2000s, DHAIS’ Founder and Chairman Mark Moss saw an opportunity to consolidate the fragmented but expanding mobility and independent living retail market by emulating what he saw happening in the hearing market.

National players such as Specsavers and Boots Opticians were diversifying into hearing and incorporating hearing testing centres into their existing optician structures. Moss’ idea was to implement a similar concept except with mobility


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products, seeing a natural synergy between the two as they touch the same target demographics. His goal was to establish a national mobility and hearing network with the same brand recognition as the larger players he was inspired by. With no pre-existing retail base from which to build on, Moss’ ambitious plan required capital. To generate the money needed to build his mobility and hearing retail empire, DHAIS decided to float on the junior market of the Stock Exchange (then known as Plus Markets) in June 2008. The goal was to raise funds by having suppliers invest in the company who would, in turn, stock and sell their products through the new retail network, generating product sales and also helping to grow the retail proposition that it had a stake in. Securing the necessary finance needed, DHAIS plc turned its attention to building its bricks and mortar network as it set out of an aggressive M&A strategy. DHAIS LEAPS INTO MOBILITY RETAIL In December 2008, half a year after floating, DHAIS completed its first acquisition: Hearing Health and Mobility Ltd. Based in Northampton, Hearing Health and Mobility comprised of five hearing and mobility stores. Shortly following the takeover, DHAIS acquired a further nine mobility stores from Cranley Investments. With 14 mobility stores under its belt, DHAIS quickly implemented its hearing & mobility store concept by establishing hearing centres across the new network. Not long having entered the mobility retail market, DHAIS almost doubled its store portfolio less than three months on. Acquiring Keep Able Ltd, a national mobility retailer in administration, for £220k, DHAIS added Keep Able’s portfolio of 13 mobility centres across the UK to its budding Hearing Health and Mobility network. When DHAIS acquired the Keep Able portfolio, Keep Able had achieved a £2.8m turnover in 2008

16 | www.thiis.co.uk

but suffered a loss of £300k. DHAIS was confident it would be able to turn around the business and return it to profitability by effectively integrating it into its new group. After the acquisition and integration, six of the worst-performing stores were subsequently shut, leaving Hearing Health and Mobility will a total of 21 stores to its name in under 12 months. BIG GROWTH, BIG COSTS All occurring in the midst of one of the largest global economic crashes of a generation, DHAIS’ growth was nothing short of staggering. For the year ended 30th June 2008, the company’s turnover was £2.54m, with an operating profit of £572k. A year on, DHAIS had almost doubled turnover to £4.8m but incurred an operating loss of £375k. In November 2009, Moss said the loss was largely a result of the high level of operating costs involved in integrating the companies it took over but that “integration efficiencies will be felt in the coming period.” By the year ended 30th June 2010, sales almost doubled again, reaching £9.4m, however, DHAIS incurred an operating loss of £1.3m, a substantial increase compared to £375k the previous year. Additionally, the company reduced its store portfolio considerably to 16, exiting 11 loss-making branches. Moss maintained that the hearing and mobility aid centre formula would prove successful to investors and stressed the benefits that economies of scale would deliver to the multi-site mobility retailer. A year on and the company reported its third consecutive loss, with sales of £7m and an operating loss of £894k for the year ended 30th June 2011 – an improvement in comparison to the loss of 2010. By the end of 2011, the company had reduced its store portfolio to 13, however, noted that the losses over the three years were “the only loss periods in seven years of trading, and have occurred primarily due to rapid expansion” to gain economies of scale and overcome barriers to market entry.

A TURNAROUND ON THE CARDS? Despite the losses of the previous three years, results from 2012 suggested that DHAIS’ retail model may have been coming to fruition and Moss’ predictions could come to pass. For the year ended 30th June 2012, turnover had increased to £7.4m with an operating loss of £142k – a significant reduction on the previous year. The improvement continued the following trading year, with turnover up to £7.9m and an operating loss of £86k in 2013. By 2014, DHAIS achieved its first profitable year since floating, with group turnover at £9.6m and an operating profit of £162k – its first profitable year since establishing the joint hearing and mobility concept. With a retail network of 15 stores and having gained Motabilityaccreditation, DHAIS saw hearing aid sales increase by 65 per cent whilst mobility product sales grew marginally by 11 per cent. With revenue failing to grow as much as expected in 2015, reaching only £10.6m, alongside increased marketing and infrastructure costs, DHAIS slipped back into loss, reporting an operating loss of £82k. By the year ended 30th June 2016, turnover had decreased by 7 per cent to £9.9m and the company suffered another operating loss of £198k. MOVING AWAY FROM MOBILITY In 2016, the company confirmed it was reviewing options for its mobility division and focusing on its hearing operations, which Moss said continued “to offer significant growth and profit potential.” Emphasising difficulties in operating its mobility division profitably, the company in 2016 stated: “Some of the stores are spread far apart, thus not benefitting from the cluster advantage enjoyed by some of our mobility competitors.” Following its announcement in 2016 regarding its mobility division, DHAIS began gradually realigning its business activities by reducing its mobility


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Snowdrop Independent Living acquired Hearing and Mobility’s Cardiff store last year and has taken over three more stores in the West Midlands

operations and expanding its hearing aid division. Also, the company decided to focus on organic growth and highlighted that no further acquisitions were planned in the future. Underlining this shift in strategy, DHAIS announced in March 2018 that it would be delisting itself from the stock market to streamline the business and benefit from costsavings. In January 2019, the company became DHAIS Ltd once again. In its strategic report for the year ended 30th June 2017, the company highlighted several changes to its Hearing and Mobility network. DHAIS sold its Sidmouth and Northampton branches whilst closing a further three stores during the year. The retail alignment for 2017 came as the company saw a further reduction in turnover and an increase in operating losses. In its annual report for the 18 months ended 4th January 2019, it surrendered a further two store leases, reducing its store portfolio to just five. It reported an operating loss of £415k in the 18 months to January 2019, however, achieved a turnover of nearly £12m, largely thanks to a 12 per cent rise in DHAIS’ hearing division. THE END OF HEARING AND MOBILITY The final nail in DHAIS’ mobility retail

18 | www.thiis.co.uk

coffin was a note stuck to the door of its Bournemouth branch, in February 2020 informing visitors that Hearing Health and Mobility has appointed administrators. Hearing and Mobility’s website also redirected people to its Hearfocus website, informing visitors: “Hearfocus, formerly Hearing & Mobility, are one of the UK’s leading private hearing healthcare companies. Since 2008 we’ve helped thousands and thousands of people enjoy the benefits of better hearing.” Speaking to a spokesperson at Hearing Health and Mobility, it was confirmed that all remaining Hearing and Mobility stores would remain temporarily closed whilst the administrators handled all enquiries. READY TO TAKE ITS PLACE Following the appointment of administrators, it seems some mobility retailers have been all too willing to step in and fill the shoes of the departed Hearing Health and Mobility, acquiring experienced staff who are au fait with the sector, its products and its customers. In December 2019, Snowdrop Independent Living confirmed it had acquired Hearing Health and Mobility’s Cardiff branch – the first acquisition by the Welsh retailer since its MBO backed by the Development Bank of Wales earlier in 2019. Towards the end of February 2020, Snowdrop announced it had

also taken over three of the defunct retailer’s showrooms in the West Midlands: Brierley Hill, Wolverhampton and Hall Green. Gaining 10 employees from Hearing Health and Mobility, the new Snowdrop branches are the first stores for the company in England, adding to the competitive West Midlands arena. As for Hearing Health and Mobility’s Bournemouth store, Lifestyle and Mobility decided to dive into the South Coast when it learned of the company entering administration. In this month’s Retailer Spotlight on page 20, THIIS caught up with Lifestyle and Mobility’s Darren Macey to discover what the company has planned in Bournemouth – another ultra-competitive mobility retail market. Reflecting on DHAIS’ grand plans for the mobility market, it is impossible not to admire the impressive largescale concept, however, its decline highlights just how much the mobility retail sector has changed in the past 12 years. As more players look to expand their store portfolios today, such as Ableworld, Middletons and Easy Living Mobility, one thing that is sure to remain constant is that the mobility retail sector will not stop seeing determined players seek to turn their nationwide retail dreams into a reality.


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retailer spotlight

Lifestyle and Mobility has taken over Hearing and Mobility’s Bournemouth site

LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY

SOMETHING SPECIAL IS COMING TO THE SOUTH COAST As the saying goes, “when one door closes, another opens” and that certainly rings true for Lifestyle and Mobility’s latest retail venture. After learning that Hearing and Mobility was exiting the mobility sector and had appointed administrators, Lifestyle and Mobility saw a golden opportunity to establish a base in one of the busiest areas for mobility products in the UK. Confirming it has now taken over Hearing and Mobility’s Bournemouth branch, THIIS spoke with Darren Macey, Business Development Manager of Lifestyle and Mobility, to find out the motivation behind the move. 20 | www.thiis.co.uk


CAN YOU LET US KNOW THE THINKING BEHIND THE DECISION TO TAKE OVER THE HEARING & MOBILITY STORE IN BOURNEMOUTH? “The opportunity came at the right time so we jumped at it immediately. We had already started negotiations on another site in the area and have quite strong ties there with a charity we look after, as well as around 80 Motability customers around Bournemouth and on the Isle of Wight that we service. “Taking on Hearing and Mobility means we have a super-strong client base of 150 customers combined.” HAVE YOU ALSO TAKEN ON THE HEARING AND MOBILITY STAFF IN THE STORE? “Yes, all staff have been TUPE’d across as we knew this was one of the biggest assets in that we were purchasing – fully trained Motability staff with lots of experience. That really is not easy to come by in our

YOU MENTION A LACK OF INVESTMENT PRIOR TO YOU TAKING OVER, CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE? “Really the store had been neglected from some time and stock levels were so slim – for example, the branch had never had a folding scooter! “Speaking with the staff, they told us about the struggles in getting basic stock from their head-office so we will make sure that the store enjoys the vast amount of mobility solutions that Lifestyle and Mobility offer.” WHAT WILL BE SOME OF THE RANGES YOU WILL BE BRINGING TO BOURNEMOUTH? “There will be lots of new ranges coming which the store lacked before and customers will not believe they are in the same showroom. “The branch will house a fresh range of modern adjustable beds, large range of rise and recline chairs, as well as lots of folding scooters.

“There will be lots of new ranges coming which the store lacked before and customers will not believe they are in the same showroom.” DARREN MACEY

opinion so it is fantastic that we can welcome them to the Lifestyle and Mobility family.” WHAT CHANGES WILL YOU BE MAKING TO THE STORE? “So many changes! The store was in a bit of a sorry state because of a lack of investment so we plan to bring the store up to 2020 retail standards. “We will add a huge amount of new fresh stock from all our top suppliers and will allocate a large marketing budget to the site. “Importantly, we shall be expanding our three-person team to five and employing someone with a vast amount of specialist knowledge on all the prescriptive products, bringing our expertise in meeting complex needs to Bournemouth and the surrounding areas.”

“Of course, the biggest changes will be all of our specialist products such as high-end powerchairs, specialist seating, active user products and power add-ons that will be available. These are the products that set us apart from the competition.” FOR MOBILITY PRODUCTS PURCHASED BY CUSTOMERS FROM HEARING AND MOBILITY, WILL LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY BE CONTINUING SERVICES, WARRANTIES ETC? “Absolutely. Having spent a week down in Bournemouth and time with the team, what came across clearly is the strong sense of community there. “That is extremely important to us so we shall be honouring any warranty outstanding that customers had under Hearing and Mobility.

Darren Macey

WHEN WILL THE DOORS REOPEN UNDER THE LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY BANNER? “The store is currently open while we are making the small changes. “Unfortunately, we can’t make any huge changes until we have a new lease in place, however, the rent is high there so unless we can renegotiate and secure a better deal going forward, we may be forced to relate the site to somewhere else in the local area. “All options are very much on the table at the moment.” TO SAY BOURNEMOUTH IS NOT SHORT ON MOBILITY SHOPS WOULD BE AN UNDERSTATEMENT – THE AREA IS ONE OF THE BUSIEST IN THE UK IN REGARDS TO MOBILITY RETAILERS. WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO THROW YOUR HAT INTO THE RING? “It is no secret that Bournemouth is known for being the retirement capital of the UK. We also know it is one of the most competitive areas in the industry, however, we don’t want to compete on price. “We feel we have additional strings to our bow that others don’t have. If anything, we hope our Bournemouth branch will help complement the local mobility market and bring something new to customers in the area. “For example, when we go shopping for new clothes for a holiday, we would go to a large shopping centre to look around all the stores, see all the different options and then make the

www.thiis.co.uk | 21


retailer spotlight needed to ensure our exceptional standards are maintained.” HOW DOES THE NEW BOURNEMOUTH STORE FIT INTO YOUR WIDER RETAIL STRATEGY? “Our core values are to look after complex customers and as we have a strong and growing base of charities and case managers that we work with, we have naturally built our customer base on the South Coast. “This store will now help us to support those existing customers and we shall be able to grow that specialist business in the area.” The South East-based retailer is to bring its modern approach to mobility retail and specialist expertise to Bournemouth

right purchase. I see this as the same for Bournemouth’s mobility market – more stores mean more people coming to shop around and check out different retailers’ offering & products. “It is our job to ensure that when customers come to see us, they make the decision to purchase from us and that is about showcasing the value of buying with Lifestyle and Mobility which is beyond price. “We’ve established ourselves in the market to a point where our customers do not purchase solely based on price alone. We have a tried and tested retail formula that we know works.” WHAT ARE SOME OF THE STRINGS TO THE LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY BOW THAT WILL ENABLE YOU TO DISTINGUISH YOURSELF IN BOURNEMOUTH? “Firstly, we have a modern approach to retail that resonates with what customers’ expect from today’s retailers so we will have an attractive

store that looks like it belongs in 2020 and this will be at the top of the agenda. “Then there is our comprehensive range of high-quality products that we mentioned before, combined with experienced staff and Motability accreditation. “These will help us make our mark, along with great marketing and our online presence.” YOUR CURRENT STORES ARE MOSTLY SITUATED IN THE SOUTH EAST OF ENGLAND SO DO YOU ENVISAGE THE DISTANCE BETWEEN YOUR CURRENT STORE PORTFOLIO AND THE SOUTH COAST POSING A CHALLENGE? “Distance can always be a challenge but for me, I believe it is all about managing time well and ensuring that we have a quality team in place. “We shall be making sure we are visiting the new store as much as possible and providing all the support

WHAT DOES 2020 HAVE IN STORE FOR LIFESTYLE AND MOBILITY? “2020 is an exciting time for Lifestyle and Mobility. We have also just had our best January and February to date! “Last year, we announced that we were planning to launch the biggest store in our portfolio in Harlow, however, due to poor conditions and asbestos in the site, we had to, unfortunately, pull out. “This does not mean that we are putting our Harlow expansion plans to rest and I can confirm that we have now found a much better location in Harlow which we are currently in negotiations with. At the risk of sounding cliché, it is very much a ‘watch this space’ situation. “We feel it is a great time for our industry and there really are great times ahead for Lifestyle and Mobility. It is fantastic to see lots of interest and invitations from suppliers and we welcome it with open arms.” www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk

Having visited the store, Darren says the store will be getting the Lifestyle and Mobility treatment after years of neglect

22 | www.thiis.co.uk


PERSONAL WHEELCHAIR BUDGETS

POWERING UP THE PRIVATE POWERCHAIR MARKET? After December’s change in law made it a legal right for those eligible for NHS wheelchairs to access a Personal Wheelchair Budget (PWB), it is likely that 2020 will be the year the scheme will see a wide-scale rollout. Despite this legal eligibility extension, there is still a degree of uncertainty surrounding PWBs, particularly in regards to what the new system means for powerchair providers in the private market.

O

ver the past few years, there has been a lot of talk around PWBs as the NHS moves towards personalised healthcare for individuals with long-term needs. Designed to give people with long-term conditions more control over their care, PWBs are planned and agreed between individuals and

clinicians, allowing those in receipt of their budgets to spend the money to meet their personal health and wellbeing needs. “The primary focus of PWB is on increasing the personalisation of care. In that regard, they very much build upon the work that has already been established through Personal

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Health Budgets,” explains Alastair Ronaldson, Marketing & Sales Manager of outsourced Wheelchair Services provider Ross Care. “They do not signify an increase in funding for the purchase of powerchairs. Broadly speaking, what they do promote is a more holistic approach to assessing the needs of


an individual and then looking at what additional wellbeing outcomes can be achieved through the specification of their wheelchair. PWBs also bring increased transparency to the individual on the budget allocated to them along with greater control of how this budget is used.” Replacing the former wheelchair voucher system, PWBs will still enable individuals to opt to use their budgets in the private market outside of NHS commissioned services and should, in theory, support people to access a wider choice of powerchairs. As of October 2019, the Government confirmed that 40,000 wheelchair users had adopted PWBs, with that number set to grow in 2020 following the change in law and new guidance from NHS England issued to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in December 2019. The legal right covers people who are referred and meet the eligibility

criteria of their local wheelchair service, as well as people already registered with a wheelchair service when they require a new wheelchair either through a change in clinical needs or in the condition of the current chair. Aiming to accelerate the implementation of PWBs, guidance issued to CCGs in January by NHS England highlights that “if a person comes within the scope of the right to have a personal health budget, then the expectation is that one will be provided.”

Stating that CCGs across the country must ensure they have the “necessary processes, support and information in place” to support PWBs, CCGs and Wheelchair Services have been busy developing how the new system will work. Whilst each CCG is free to create their process for the allocation of PWBs and provision of wheelchairs, NHS England has outlined what powerchair users should expect from the new system. According to NHS England, users will receive

£

KNOW YOUR FUNDING STREAMS The big difference between Personal Wheelchair Budgets and the voucher scheme is the ability to pool funding from other areas to meet wider health and wellbeing needs. For mobility retailers, understanding the different funding streams available to end-users and maintaining close relationships with therapists, alongside establishing a relationship with local Wheelchair Services, will be essential.

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a personalised assessment and care plan to identify the health and wellbeing outcomes they wish to achieve, which may form part of a wider care plan which covers other areas of funding.

Ross Care’s Alastair points out, however, that PWBs will not necessarily mean a rush of eligible budget holders turning to the private market but will rather fuelling a significant change in the way NHS

“The idea of service users being empowered to explore alternative options available on the private market can only be a good thing and I do see it driving innovation” KEVIN ATKINS

Wheelchair users should also be provided information about the amount of money available to them in their personal wheelchair budgets and options available to use the budget locally outside of NHS commissioned services, alongside information about wheelchair repair and maintenance if a user decides to go this route. A CHANGE IN WHEELCHAIR PROVISION On the surface, the shift in wheelchair provision policy sounds like it could result in more wheelchair users being prompted to consider the private market alongside NHS commissioned wheelchair services, potentially driving demand in the private sector.

WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND REPAIRS? Budget holders that choose to use their PWB outside the NHS will receive a contribution towards the repair and maintenance of costs, however, it will be the responsibility of the individual to manage repairs and maintenance for the duration of the powerchair ownership. For powerchair dealers, this means having the capability to offer quick and efficient repairs and having access to spares will be vital.

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commissioned wheelchair services work to meet the needs of service users. “In my opinion, the biggest determining factor of the scale of impact on the private market is the degree in which CCGs build links and work in partnership with other departments and organisations in order to pool funding as individual cases require it,” he comments. “This does not necessarily mean that the equipment will always be supplied from outside of the NHS but it will certainly enable a much bigger uptake of a wider variety powerchair options than if it is just down to the individual to source their own funding.” POOLING RESOURCES It is this ability to integrate and pool different sources of funding that is perhaps the biggest change from the former voucher system, with NHS England aiming to ensure PWBs form part of wider care planning. Equally, it is the topic which some in the trade can see potential problems, given the somewhat fragmented nature of the health and social care system. It is an area that Ross Care as a Wheelchair Services provider has been working on with CCGs to refine. “One challenge will be the extent to which funding streams can be pooled now that there is a mechanism for it to take place,” notes Alastair. “I have had the opportunity to meet with CCG steering groups and have

Ross Care’s Alastair Ronaldson highlights the potential environmental and financial risks to the NHS

been impressed by the work taking place to bridge departments, as well as the commitment to assess the success of outcomes.” Working in partnership with Blatchford Clinical Services, who manage Ross Care's clinics, the two organisations are currently involved in a project to achieve personcentred outcome measures, with the initiative being supported by Bangor University's Centre for Health Economic and Medicines Evaluation. “I think all providers of Wheelchair Services would agree that whilst PWBs are now fully in operation, 2020 will also be a year of learning and development,” he adds. Beyond having a fundamental effect on the way Wheelchair Services assess and provide powerchairs to service users, the ability to bring funding together from other areas of the health and social care spectrum is one which powerchair retailers see as an opportunity to engage with budget holders. One such company is Precision Rehab, a distributor and retailer of specialist powerchairs, with Managing Director Matthew James highlighting what prospects he envisages opening


up following the wide-scale rollout of PWBs. “It will offer a better understanding of possibilities and savings that can be made by merging the costs/budgets from different sectors,” he says. “This will enable users to have a better product that will meet all their needs in a better, more costeffective way, rather than buying many products to solve the same issue that may be cheaper individually but less effective and more expensive overall. “We believe this will offer Precision Rehab a better chance of offering the right product at the right cost to meet needs and budget without compromising the individual’s actual needs because of budget constraints.” As well as powerchair retailers,

THE ENVIRONMENTAL AND FINANCIAL IMPACT OF PWBS? Wheelchair Services have infrastructures in place in regards to the repair and reissuing of powerchairs, however Ross Care’s Marketing & Sales Manager Alastair Ronaldson highlights how PWBs may have the potential to disrupt this. “We need to consider the broader impact on sustainability, both environmentally and financially for the NHS. The existing system relies on a program of recycling and refurbishment which enables a wheelchair to be put back into service after use,” he points out. “PWBs have the potential to reduce the extent to which this can take place, which could in turn impact on the number of wheelchairs the NHS needs to purchase, as well as the number having to be scrapped. “As a sector, we will need to find ways to respond and address this challenge if we are to secure its sustainability.”

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manufacturers are also watching how PWBs develop, with the focus on greater choice presenting an opening for companies that have focused less on the NHS market in the past. Kevin Atkins, Senior Sales Manager of specialist powerchair manufacturer Quantum Rehab, says that the company has dedicated more of its efforts towards the retail market and hopes PWB will see more individuals look to local dealers and different chairs as a realistic alternative. “Over the past few years, we have focused more on the retail sector as we found it quite difficult to get the NHS to consider other options away from a handful of suppliers they have been working with for many years,” he explains. “It is understandable as people in Wheelchair Services get used to using certain types of products and become familiar with them, as well as having all the stock of spares available. It means switching to a new product range can be a challenge for them because all the engineers have to be trained and all therapists need to understand the different features and options which can create a barrier for other suppliers and products. “Working with the retail-side is very different. We can usually speak directly with the decisionmaker and if they see the benefits of offering our range then they can move to adopt it quickly. For their customers, it means access to more choice and the latest ranges so it

Quantum Rehab’s Kevin hopes PWBs will encourage more users to look towards more innovative products that meet the user’s needs

“One challenge will be the extent to which funding streams can be pooled now that there is a mechanism for it to take place” ALASTAIR RONALDSON


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Will PWBs mean more access to a greater range of features and accessories available to Wheelchair Service users?

would be great to see more individuals being encouraged to check out other options that are on the market.” AWARENESS AND UNDERSTANDING One potential hurdle to a wide-scale rollout that is flagged across the board is the lack of awareness and understanding of PWBs, particularly amongst service users. Despite CCGs having been expected to introduce and develop plans to offer PWBs since April 2017 and the change in the law in December 2019, there is still confusion regarding how the system works. The most up to date PWB guidance from NHS England states CCGs “must publicise and promote the availability of personal health budgets and personal wheelchair budgets, and provide information, advice and support to those eligible”, however, John Payne, Managing Director of Kent Mobility, claims that he has not seen this happening. “We find that end-users are not being informed of the option to have a PWB or when they ask about them, they have been told that they are not being issued. This is direct feedback from our customers,” he alleges. With such a significant shift

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being made to the way CCGs and Wheelchair Services providers work, Kevin points out that it is likely that PWBs will still take time to be fully implemented across the country. “I think it will come down to resources available, so some Wheelchair Services will be quicker than others to roll it out,” he suggests. “It will also take time for people to know their rights but I think as people become more informed over the budgets and the options that are out there, it will result in powerchair users having more of a say over what they can have.” Precision Rehab’s Matthew echoes Kevin’s thoughts, stating that “not many clients have heard about PWBs; they have heard of PIPs and vouchers. We believe that if the scheme is managed correctly, it will offer individuals more choice of product and a greater choice of supplier.” Interestingly, as an organisation with experience delivering PWBs, Ross Care’s Alastair says that work is ongoing to raise awareness and proposes that the private market also has a role to play in raising awareness. “Our aim is to work with service users so that they can make an informed choice knowing and understanding the options available to

them. PWBs are already being given much greater visibility than perhaps the voucher scheme may have had, in fact, it is mandatory to do so,” he comments. “However, the next stage is to raise awareness of what wheelchair solutions are available on the wider market for them to consider. This is where the private market really does need to engage and support NHS Services and I think retailers will be best served by taking a partnership approach to this.” PRICING PREDICAMENT With PWBs enabling service users to explore options on the private market much in the same way the former voucher system worked, it would be reasonable for private powerchair retailers to see more budget holders visiting their showrooms in search of a wider choice. As stated, however, PWBs do not mean an increase in funding and the amount of funding that an individual is given is based on what it costs the NHS commissioned Wheelchair Services to meet the person’s assessed postural and mobility needs. Speaking with Kent Mobility’s John Payne, he highlights that whilst users may receive a budget to the price that the NHS purchases its chairs for, the


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equivalent cost to purchase the same products in the retail market are not comparable. “The risk we find ourselves in within the retail market is that the major manufacturers and importers are giving Wheelchair Services contractors huge discounts which have unbalanced the market," states John. “I cannot blame the end-user for accepting the same chair that they would have paid for in the retail market for either free or at a big discounted price. The blame lies solely with the manufactures. "We find PWBs will be priced at the cost that would have been paid by the contracted Wheelchair Services providers for the products which will be a lot lower than what the end-user could purchase from the retail market. Unless they have private funds, they will probably go back to the NHS.” PUSHING POWERCHAIR INNOVATION? Interestingly, John suggests that this will prompt retailers to look and offer powerchair ranges not available through NHS commissioned Wheelchair Services.

we were bringing to the market were not designed to be basic entry-level products,” he describes. “As a company, innovation is a top priority and we were not prepared to cut back on any areas of the finished product. I am not suggesting anyone else in the industry has done that but if you are selling a powerchair with such low margins, I believe you have to make savings somewhere, be it with features or materials.” It is a sentiment shared by Precision Rehab’s Matthew, who adds: “The market has always produced low-level, mid-level and high-end products. Low- and mid-range level have been aimed at Wheelchair Services provision which means off-the-shelf products that are onesize-fits-all and mass-produced with limited innovation and where low budget is key.” Working closely with the powerchairs available through Wheelchair Services, Alastair notes that innovation is still taking place for chairs designed for the NHS. “In my opinion, the equipment available through Wheelchair Services has continued to improve over recent years. Perhaps innovation has been

“This will drive the private market to demo and supply their own products or supply what is not available on the NHS” JOHN PAYNE

“This will drive the private market to demo and supply their own products or supply what is not available on the NHS, giving a better quality and a better service for the end-users,” he adds. Quantum Rehab’s Kevin Atkins also notes how the prices of powerchairs purchased by the NHS may possibly have affected service user choice, indicating that PWBs may help to drive innovation in the market. “One of our main challenges was that we weren’t prepared to meet the prices of some of the other manufacturers because the products

32 | www.thiis.co.uk

focused more on making features available to a greater number of people,” he maintains. “I wouldn’t pretend to be in a position to speak to the development of powerchair technology at large but can certainly see there will be an increased interest in features that support peoples social and wellbeing requirements. The most visible case here is the number of elevating seat options now available.” Quantum’s Kevin, however, emphasises that given the financial strain most Wheelchair Services are under and because of the volume

Kent Mobility’s John Payne suggests PWBs will encourage retailers to seek out ranges not available through the NHS

that Wheelchair Services buy, even a model that may be £50 more expensive than its competitor can add up to a lot of money and influence the NHS’ buying decision. “Of course, as a supplier we want to work with the NHS. With this being a low-margin, high-volume environment, when we looked at reducing prices as much as we could, we were still slightly more expensive than our competitors on some products,” he continues. “The idea of service users being empowered to explore alternative options available on the private market can only be a good thing and I do see it driving innovation, particularly as PWBs open up new routes to increase the funding available for the powerchair that people want.” HOW CAN RETAILERS PREPARE? With the potential for budget holders to seek out more choice with a PWB that may not stretch as far in the private market as it does within NHS commissioned Wheelchair Services, what can powerchair retailers in the market do to ensure they are prepared for the change? Precision Rehab’s Matthew emphasises that his company is focusing on working closely with therapists and being aware of the different funding options available to end-users.


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Precision Rehab’s Matthew James stresses the importance of knowing your funding streams

“We carry out assessments based on the clients’ needs, postural requirements and lifestyle and work closely with their occupational therapist or recommend a therapist that we work with locally to powerchair users," he says. “We choose the best product, accessories and modifications for the best solution and then we discuss all funding options and budgets, including disability-related funding. By looking at all funding avenues with each client, we hope the PWB scheme will offer a greater choice of product that best suits an individual's needs.” As well as having an understanding of available funding routes, Ross Care’s Alastair advises retailers to ensure that they have a sufficient level of repair and maintenance support to meet the needs of budget holders who will no longer receive this from NHS commissioned Wheelchair Services. “As all costs of upkeep are covered for patients staying within NHS provision, this needs to be carefully considered by those individuals who may choose to move outside of that system where currently they have access to larger teams of engineers and stocks of spare parts,” he says. “Certainly, there are retailers that

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are well equipped to offer this but it is going to be a bigger obstacle to overcome in order to ensure there is sufficient and consistent coverage across the whole of the UK.” Alastair also raises another interesting point: the importance of expert assessments. “Similarly, a thorough and professional assessment process needs to be delivered to customers and if the retail sector is going to be able to respond to this requirement so that it happens in each case then there will need to be innovation to ensure high standards,” he continues. “As an industry, I think it is likely that there will be a need to introduce some level of accreditation to help maintain

standards.” As different CCGs and Wheelchair Services continue to craft and shape how PWBs will work, retailers that are well-informed and capable of helping customers navigate the still somewhat muddy waters of PWBs will be best placed to benefit from the push to the more personalised approach to powerchair provision. “My thoughts are, I am not sure if PWB will work but if we supply good quality products, reliable service and treat customers as we expect to be treated, they will keep coming back and will tell their friends,” concludes Kent Mobility’s John Payne. “After all, it’s a growing market.”

PERSONAL WHEELCHAIR BUDGETS AND THEIR WHEELCHAIR VOUCHER EQUIVALENTS PWB – “Notional personal wheelchair budget”

Voucher scheme – “Partnership voucher”

People use their PWB within NHS commissioned services, where the Wheelchair Service purchases and provides the chair. Budget holders can also contribute to their PWB to upgrade their wheelchair, which can come from budget holders’ own funds or from an integrated package with other agencies, such as education, social care or third sector organisations.

PWB – “Third party personal wheelchair budget

Voucher scheme – “Independent voucher”

Budget holders can use their budget outside of NHS commissioned services and can take explore options with private retailers. The mobility retailer in question would receive the personal budget by invoicing the NHS and similarly to the notional budget, can be topped up with additional funds.


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OT perspective

WILL YOU STILL BE RELEVANT IN 2025? As we rush headfirst into a new decade, Stuart Barrow asks the question: will you stand the test of time? By Stuart Barrow, MD of Promoting Independence

I

can scarcely believe it, but we’re now well into 2020, which feels dangerously futuristic. And before we know it, 2025 will be here, then 2030, and… well, you get the gist. One of the things I’ve realised over the years is that time moves much faster than our ability to adapt to change and the more that we can pre-empt the way the market moves, the better equipped we are to continue to be relevant. For you, this means having a clear idea of what the health, mobility and social care landscape will look like five years from now. Because when you do, you’ll be able to provide products and services that meet the needs of people in that era and prevent yourself from becoming another Blockbuster, Mothercare or Woolworths. I’ve jotted down a few thoughts about where I think things are going – I hope these help you to make the right decisions about where your focus will be over the next five years: THE EVER-INCREASING PURPLE POUND It’s estimated that seven million UK citizens of working age have a disability – that’s A LOT of spending power, worth an estimated £249 billion. As the population increases, that number will go up, not down, which means that if you want to thrive now and in the future, you’ll consider the opportunities that those sorts of private funding clients provide. CHANGING PLACES If you don’t have a Changing Places facility in your showroom, then I would definitely consider it – it’s a key part of the drive to make environments more

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favourable for people with disabilities. Having one would help you to build trust and relationships with your customers, which should – in the long run – have a big impact on your wordof-mouth referrals and overall brand positioning. It might be that it’s not possible for you to make that sort of investment but if you do run Open Days, it’ll definitely be well worth investing in hiring a Mobiloo or similar to ensure that your customers have toilet and washing facilities available to them. But if your environment doesn’t easily accommodate a Changing Place (even a temporary one), it’s worth considering whether your venue is fit for purpose now and certainly in 2025. THE RISE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE Contrary to what the ‘self-serve’ checkouts might suggest, customer service has never been more important, particularly in the market we serve. In 2017, BN Magazine reported that 75 per cent of disabled people have left a shop due to poor customer service. If you’re serious about thriving over the next five years, it’s vital to invest in training your staff and ensuring that they deliver a positive experience for your customers. PUTTING YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS In 2019, Closomat introduced a tenyear warranty, proving that they have no concerns that their toilets would not last for that period of time. Similarly, last year also saw Geberit launch their free five-year warranty on the new Geberit AquaClean Mera Care Shower Toilet, displaying utter confidence in their product.

Manufacturers, do you have confidence in your product and, importantly, can you put your money where your mouth is? THE ROLE OF CLINICIANS In 2014 I set up Promoting Independence, a bespoke Occupational Therapy service which – among other things - helps manufacturers design new products and showcase their products with expert clinical input. Since then, I have seen a rapid increase in organisations, especially the ones that exhibit with us at the Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference (OTAC) that use OTs to help with product development and market research. Our last two events saw the involvement of three private practice OT companies all supporting exhibitors at our events. By tapping into clinical expertise, you’ll have your finger on the pulse when it comes to the way the market thinks and feels and what it wants. And if you do that, your chances of thriving in the next decade, let alone the next five years, rapidly increases.


BIG NEWS COMING NEXT MONTH! PS…. I have exciting news coming next month which I can guarantee will be of interest to readers of THIIS Magazine. More to be revealed exclusively in the next issue THIIS! To find out more about OTAC events, call me 029 2190 0402 or email stuart@promoting-independence.co.uk

Visit us at NAIDEX: Stand NT48 Or please contact us for our trade catalogue: Tel 01460 75686 www.classiccanes.co.uk

OTAC Events 2020 OTAC Midlands

Wednesday 22nd January

Who else wants their product in front of HUNDREDS of occupational therapists? OTAC is the UK’s only FREE occupational therapy and adaptations conference, giving retailers valuable opportunities to showcase their products, and OTs crucial knowledge of products that can make their clients’ lives better?

OTAC Reading Wednesday 8th July

PAST EVENT

OTAC Llanelli

Wednesday 5th February

OTAC Southampton Wednesday 9th September

PAST EVENT

OTAC Leeds

OTAC Newcastle

OTAC Exeter

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trade talk

TRADE TALK Q&A WITH ARJAN MUIS, CEO OF ROLLZ INTERNATIONAL WHAT IS THE BACKGROUND AND MOTIVATION BEHIND ROLLZ? When creating and designing mobility products, you cannot underestimate the importance of branding and I became very aware of this during my time as CEO at Bugaboo, the premium international stroller brand from the Netherlands. Moving from prams to rollators ten years ago, I realised the Dutch mobility aid market was focused mainly on providing the elderly with low-priced functional products. Walkers were regarded as something people needed but hated using and not as a life-changing product that might enrich your life and provide you with independence and happiness. That is why at the time we started designing our first rollator we decided not to talk about physical problems or healthcare issues but concentrate on emphasising the possibilities of continuing an enjoyable lifestyle instead, while supporting an active and independent life. Right from the start, we decided to be as international as possible. Part of the international branding is choosing a brand name that has a good resonance all over the world. So, we have made a combination between the rolling movement and echoing the Rock & Roll times. HAVING RECENTLY LAUNCHED ROLLZ MOBILITY UK, WHAT WILL YOUR STRATEGY BE WHEN ESTABLISHING YOUR DEALER NETWORK? We will continue the cooperation with those retailers already selling Rollz rollators. In addition, we will be looking

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for new specialised retailers and chains who would like to expand their portfolio with Rollz and Saljol products and will be able to provide the enduser with the best possible advice, as well as show our entire product range in their shops. This means the mobility retailers we are looking for need to invest both time and effort in our design products.

marketing department will provide all the necessary materials for online and offline use, regularly creating new promotional videos to be shown on screens in the showrooms, along with useful blogs and user stories that can be shared on social media. We intend to find appointed dealers who are able to serve as centres of excellence in all regions.

WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR IN A RETAIL PARTNER? Both Rollz and Saljol stand for premium mobility products so we would like to establish long-term partnerships with retailers that understand this market and are willing to invest in the business relationship. This also includes retailers who are active online and can benefit from our online presence and image.

HOW IS THE UK MARKET DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHER MARKETS YOU OPERATE IN AND WHAT ADJUSTMENTS WILL ROLLZ MOBILITY UK MAKE TO MEET THE NEEDS OF DEALERS IN THE UK? National social security and insurance systems for the mobility aid market are different in each country. On top

WHY SHOULD MOBILITY DEALERS IN THE UK WORK WITH ROLLZ AND WHAT SUPPORT WILL YOU OFFER DEALERS? The Rollz and Saljol rollators will be eye-catchers in their showrooms but intensive product training for shopkeepers and employees is vital in promoting our brand. The account manager will be able to support with all their requests, while our customer service department will be covering all the service enquiries. Our

Rollz Motion Rhythm coming in May


of that, the local infrastructure of each market has its own characteristics. That’s why it is important to work with local account managers who know all dealers, NHS consultants, the social security system and are close to the customers. Through conversations with the dealers, we’ll get to know their wishes and expectations and can adapt to their requirements if needed. CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN ROLLZ AND SALJOL? Rollz has started this year as an exclusive distributor of Saljol products in the UK and The Netherlands, and vice versa Saljol is the exclusive dealer of Rollz products in Germany and Austria. By extending our portfolio with the Saljol mobility products, Rollz Mobility UK is able to offer retailers a balanced

high-end range of indoor and outdoor design rollators. Both brands have a keen eye for design, combined with smart functional innovations that enable an independent life. WHAT SALJOL RANGES WILL YOU BE BRINGING TO THE UK? In the UK, we will distribute the safe and ultralightweight Saljol Carbon rollator, the Saljol Indoor rollator Page for independent living at home, and the Saljol Shower chair Spa for showering while seated. ARE THERE MORE PRODUCT LAUNCHES ON THE WAY THIS YEAR? Alongside the Rollz Motion Performance and the Saljol Carbon rollator, at Naidex we will also be introducing the Rollz Motion Rhythm, which is a Parkinson’s rollator with three rhythmic cues.

ROLLING INTO THE UK At the end of 2019, Rollz International declared it was ending its distribution relationship with Topro UK and establishing Rollz Mobility UK - a new company with the exclusive distribution of Rollz rollators in the UK, as well as for the entire mobility range of German company Saljol Gmbh. Arjun Muis, CEO of Rollz and Thomas Appel, CEO of Saljol, will be at this year’s Naidex on stand N887.

WHEN WILL THE PRODUCT BE AVAILABLE FOR RETAILERS? The Rollz Motion Rhythm will be available in the UK in May. www.rollz.com/en

The UK’s leading MOBILITY BATTERY Stockist and Supplier Since 1972 VI

C

E

S

ER

EN CE E XC E L L

Tel - 0117 955 0535 WWW.BBLBATTERIES.CO.UK


round-up

Middletons moves eastward Middletons has opened the doors to its new Reading after a busy 2018 and 2019 of showroom launches. The bricks and mortar retail proposition from owners of directselling furniture firm Oak Tree Mobility, Middletons has been implementing its plan to establish a national chain

of mobility outlets since securing a £3.8m investment in 2018. In 2019, the company opened 10 new branches across the West Midlands and South West of England and told THIIS that it planned to open six more stores in the first half of 2020.

The new Reading store marks the first of the declared six and also signals a move further east for expanding retailer. The new store location is: 31 Boulton Road Reading RG2 0NH middletons.co.uk

IS A SUPPLY SHORTAGE ON THE HORIZON? A number of suppliers have indicated that supply problems may arise following the outbreak of COVID-19, the latest strain of coronavirus, in China and across Asia. The contagious disease ravaged China’s Hubei Province, the epicentre of the epidemic, has severely impacted the production and movement of products following travel bans and factory closures imposed by the Chinese government across the region. The resulting slowdown in China’s manufacturing output is being felt across global supply chains. Many mobility suppliers

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emphasised that their current level of stock will enable them to weather the storm in the short-term, however, shortages may begin to appear around May, June and July as a knock-on effect to the extended closures of factories and ports. Discussing the potential impact, one mobility supplier said: “Companies that operate just-intime operations and hold little stock will likely be the ones to feel the immediate impact on supply. “For those with larger warehousing and stockholdings, the ripple in supply is not as deep. If factories remain closed, however,

there will be supply issues across the entire industry. If that happens, it will present opportunities for those that do not rely on imports from China as others scramble to find new suppliers.” The outbreak shines a light on just how interlinked and global trade is, with China, the world’s manufacturing base, being the starting point of many complex, multinational supply chains. This means even for UK suppliers that do not directly import from China, delays may be on the horizon as supply shortages occur further down the supply chain.


Why a fitted Rise and Recliner? Whether you need a riser recliner for mobility, health conditions, or simply to enjoy leaning back and putting your feet up at the end of a long day there are several benefits to having your chair ‘fitted’ to your size, body shape and weight. Rise & Recline Chairs

Plus a full range of comfortable beds...

0115 913 3572 info@riseandrecline.co.uk www.riseandrecline.co.uk

PUS size Bariatric


buyers’ guide

In partnership with

BUYERS’ GUIDE TO…

POWERCHAIRS The ultimate guide to the latest powerchairs in the market, brought to mobility retailers in partnership with Verlingue.

K Active from Kymco A superb out-of-the-box solution for dealers looking for a robust powered wheelchair, the crash tested K Active comes with a range of options & accessories and a maximum speed of 6mph. Highlighted as a perfect showroom model by the company, the seating and footrests have the ability to be adjusted and adapted on-site to suit clients’ needs.

www.kymcohealthcare.com

PARAVAN PR25 FROM PRECISION REHAB The Paravan PR25 powerchair from Precision Rehab uses automatic stabiliser wheels to enable the seat system to be powered from normal seat height to floor level, allowing children and small adults to access the chair from ground level. With a base width of 64cm and choice of tilt in space and seat lift, the PR25 is easy to manoeuvre and boasts maximum user weights of 60kg and 120kg. www.precisionrehab.co.uk

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JOYRIDER FOLDING POWERED CHAIR FROM E-GOES With its clever and modern minimalist design, the Joyrider folding powerchair now boasts an innovative enhancement to make the chair even more transportable. The frame can now be split into two parts, with one being the main frame & seat and the other, the rear wheel section including the motors, battery and power module. The rear section, the heaviest part, weighs only 14.8kg, including the 1.8kg battery. In addition, the chair is also shorter when split and folded, making it easier to store and suitable for a wider range of car boots. According to e-goes, users or their partner who would normally find lifting an electric wheelchair difficult now have a “stylish way to get out and wider their horizons.” e-goes.co.uk

To find out more about Verlingue’s comprehensive and competitive insurance solutions for the mobility sector, please contact Stephen Aldridge, Client Director, on +44 (0)208 282 8595, email stephen.aldridge@verlingue.co.uk, or visit www.verlingue.co.uk


Premium Quality Folding Powered Chairs The smart way to get mobile  Lightweight strong frames  Fold compactly in just 5 seconds  Fit into a small hatchback  Smooth responsive controls  Choice of range options up to 27 miles! www.e-goes.co.uk

T: 0330 555 5225

SMART E-MOBILITY Distributor for the United Kingdom & Ireland e-goes is a trading name of Proactive Mobility Ltd.

E: info@e-goes.co.uk


buyers’ guide

In partnership with

Edge 3 Stretto from Quantum Rehab Featuring a narrow width for outstanding manoeuvrability and SRS (Smooth Ride Suspension), the new Edge 3 Stretto from Quantum Rehab is quickly proving to be a dealer favourite as an indoor and outdoor option. Selected as Lifestyle and Mobility’s March Product of the Month, the Stretto comes with 12.5-inch or 14-inch drive wheels and seat sizes suitable for both paediatric and adults. Designed to fit into the smallest of spaces, the Stretto boasts a 20.5-inch overall width, allowing for seamless indoor performance, whilst the addition of iLevel allows users to elevate to 12 inches whilst driving at 3.5mph. With such powerful features crafted into such a small chair, the Edge 3 Stretto is a praiseworthy addition to Quantum’s powerchair portfolio.

K5 FOLDING POWERED CHAIR FROM E-GOES With adjustability in abundance and numerous features to enhance user experience, the K5 is the new high-end folding powerchair from e-goes. From a seated position, the user can change the backrest angle and height, as well as the reach of the armrests. A premium level chair in the market, the device features powerful motors, large diameter rear wheels for more challenging terrains and a high capability Li-ion battery. The LCD Joystick control panel also offers several customisable functions including the ability to adjust the responsiveness of the chair from soft, though normal to powerful, making the K5 easy to set up to suit the conditions and user preferences. e-goes.co.uk

quantumrehab.co.uk

TITAN FWD FROM DRIVE DEVILBISS HEALTHCARE With its tight turning radius and front wheel drive operation, the Titan FWD provides users with enhanced handling and manoeuvrability. The chair features an adjustable length controller mount and a height-adjustable reclining seat with adjustable padded armrests and headrest to boost the user’s comfort. A height-adjustable, flip-up footplate is included as standard and the armrests are also removable, all to assist with side transfers. The 4mph Titan FWD is capable of a maximum range of 19 miles and includes a Dynamic Shark programmable controller to provide users with an enjoyable driving experience. drivedevilbiss.co.uk

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To find out more about Verlingue’s comprehensive and competitive insurance solutions for the mobility sector, please contact Stephen Aldridge, Client Director, on +44 (0)208 282 8595, email stephen.aldridge@verlingue.co.uk, or visit www.verlingue.co.uk


NEW PRODUCTS LAUNCHING AT NAIDEX TRADE 2020!

NEW WIRELESS FALL PREVENTION RANGE

Alerta Medical will be exhibiting at Naidex Trade on 17 & 18 March 2020 at NEC, Birmingham This event will be the official launch for some of our most significant new product releases to date; New and innovative Wireless Fall Prevention Alertamat range

Foam Mattress range Large stock for next day delivery

New Care Bed range launch in Oak and Walnut with unique features and matching Overbed Tables

We only sell to trade, never the end-user, our loyalty is with you - the distributor

Alternating Air Mattress range Come along and view our new and existing product range, find out about the latest distributor opportunities and our industry leading distributor support. We look forward to meeting with our existing and future UK distributor partners to discuss your requirements on Stand NT70.

STAND NT70

We look forward to meeting you!

+44 (0)3452 088 097 | www.alertamedical.com | sales@alertamedical.com


buyers’ guide

In partnership with

Optimus 2 RS from Electric Mobility The robust Optimus 2 RS is a frontwheel-drive, 6mph powerchair that is described as the ultimate off-road companion for users seeking comfort, safety and manoeuvrability across a multitude of terrains, including dirt, snow or sand. With its pneumatic tyres with studded tread providing excellent traction and an impressive range of up to 37 miles, the Optimus 2 RS is the practical electric powerchair for sustained outdoor adventures. Single-wheel suspension and high climbing ability also make it ideal for tackling high kerbs and higher slopes. A sporty finish complete the Optimus 2 RS package to create a prime powerchair that is sure to stand out from the crowd in the showroom. electricmobility.co.uk

ERGO TRAVELLER FROM KARMA MOBILITY Incorporating its patented ‘S-Ergo’ seating system, the Ergo Traveller is a lightweight, compact and manoeuvrable powerchair. Small enough to fit through most internal doorways and be stored away when not in use, the chair is also robust enough to withstand use outdoors and can be disassembled into four manageable components. With the heaviest of the four parts weighing 24kg, the company says the Ergo Traveller is well suited for users that often travel by car. In addition, the powerchairs features a quick release battery pack, right- or lefthand joystick controls, height adjustable and flip back arm rest, adjustable backrest angle and height adjustable footplates. An optional attendant control can also be fitted to allow a carer to control the powerchair if necessary. karmamobility.co.uk

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To find out more about Verlingue’s comprehensive and competitive insurance solutions for the mobility sector, please contact Stephen Aldridge, Client Director, on +44 (0)208 282 8595, email stephen.aldridge@verlingue.co.uk, or visit www.verlingue.co.uk


X20 YOUR CUSTOMERS CAN

MORE LIFE CYCLES THAN LEAD ACID BATTERIES

40% LIGHTER THAN LEAD-ACID BATTERIES

FURTHER WITH LITHIUM BATTERIES Your customers’ needs are ever changing and so is the mobility market. Lead-acid has done the rounds for years and can be incredibly efficient, but a new age of power is here with the arrival of TN Power’s new lithium batteries, purpose-built with mobility in mind, the new compact lithiums answer every question asked of them, both in theory and in practice. The batteries are lighter, more durable, more cost-effective, better for the environment over their service life as well as maintaining a higher discharge voltage right down to the last amp. What reason is there to NOT go lithium?

Want to learn more?

See us at Naidex - stand N544

DOUBLE THE USEABLE POWER OF LEAD-ACID IMMUNE TO SULFATION WORKS WITH LEAD-ACID CHARGERS

s Distributor required!

1ST CHOICE FOR LITHIUM Boasting a staggering double depth of discharge compared to lead-acid and a mere 25% of the weight per amp - lithium is in a league of its own. With their longevity and immunity to sulfation, lead-acid quickly becomes the tougher sell! Simply put, your customers will expect maximum performance from their scooters - there’s no point in buying a top end scooter and using poor quality batteries in it. Our TN Power lithium batteries are built on a structural level with peak mobility performance in mind and they’re the most durable batteries we’ve ever sold, so whatever challenges your customers face, the new lighter, more powerful lithium battery will rise to the challenge!

If you’re still on the fence and would like to know more, we’re exhibiting at the NAIDEX show on March 17-18 in Birmingham, where we’ll be exhibiting our FULL range of lead-acid and lithium batteries. We will be demonstrating the full capabilities of the batteries as well as their durability over the weekend.

Tewkesbury, GL20 01684 298800 trade@batterymegastore.co.uk

Interested in helping lead the lithium revolution? Spaces are very limited so call our trade team today to find out what’s the best fit for your customers and how we can help you offer the UK’s widest choice of batteries in your stores. Get in touch today.

WWW.BATTERYMEGASTORE.CO.UK


buyers’ guide

‘INSTORE’ FOLDING POWERCHAIR FROM DRIVE DEVILBISS HEALTHCARE Selling more units since launch than any other powerchair in Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare’s range, the ‘Instore’ Folding Powerchair has proven to be a runaway success for the company. The chair features two lightweight lithium iON batteries but is fully operational with just one, allowing the second battery to be charged during use if required. Specifically designed to easily fold and unfold to a compact size in seconds, the small and portable powerchair can be stowed away for car, train and aeroplane travel. Described as the ideal travel companion, the lightweight aluminium-alloy frame weighs 28.7kg including batteries and boasts a 13 miles max range when using both batteries. Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare’s Instore folding powerchair also features easily removable padded seats and back cushions, an easy-to-use controller, as well as underseat storage for user’s valuables. drivedevilbiss.co.uk

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SERIES 5 FROM FREEDOM ONE LIFE Designed for both indoor and outdoor use to EN 12184 safety standard, the Series 5 from Freedom One Life is designed by a wheelchair user to give users a chair which has not only been fully crash tested but incorporates a full 50 degrees of tilt to ensure optimal comfort. freedomonelife.com

Leon from Karma Mobility The Leon powerchair from Karma Mobility has been designed to take full advantage of rear wheel drive when being used outdoors. Geared for speed without compromising on stability or control, the Leon has a narrow wheelbase of 62cm which allows for agile manoeuvrability and makes it well suited for even the most active of users. Featuring a full suspension system for an extra comfortable ride and a top speed of 8mph, the Leon comes in a range of seat options including a Captain’s Seat, sling seat, power tilt and power decline which can be applied independently or together, depending on the users’ individual requirements. karmamobility.co.uk


In partnership with

iGO FOLD FROM PRIDE MOBILITY The iGo Fold is the latest addition to the Pride Mobility iGo range, featuring unique automatic remote-controlled folding technology to allow for easy transport and storage. Offering a maximum speed of 4mph and additional storage in both the backrest & underneath, the iGo Fold is designed for those with an active lifestyle. The chair also boasts a large footplate, 50Ah lithium batteries and a maximum weight capacity of 18 st 8lbs. pride-mobility.co.uk

Rascal Rio Powerchair from Electric Mobility A petite and lightweight chair with big capabilities, the Rascal Rio 4mph is a modern and stylish at just 23-inches wide and it easily dismantles into three parts, making it perfect for transportation and storage while charging. Boasting an upgraded new PG nVR2 Controller and longer seat backrest to provide higher levels of comfort for those customers who rely on an everyday powerchair, the Rio can achieve a range up to 8 miles and a maximum carry capacity of 18 stones. Offering dealers an ideal compact indoor and outdoor powerchair to showcase to customers, the Rio’s compact and unique design makes it a worthy addition to any showroom collection. electricmobility.co.uk

Trekinetic GTE from Trekinetic Inspired by Formula One, the Trekinetic GTE was designed to push the limits of what a powerchair can do says the company. The three-wheel design allows it to cope with almost any terrain on the planet and the carbon fibre seat makes it lightweight and easy to transport. trekinetic.com

To find out more about Verlingue’s comprehensive and competitive insurance solutions for the mobility sector, please contact Stephen Aldridge, Client Director, on +44 (0)208 282 8595, email stephen.aldridge@verlingue.co.uk, or visit www.verlingue.co.uk

www.thiis.co.uk | 49


buyers’ guide

In partnership with

TGA WHILL MODEL C FROM TGA Continuing to deliver impressive sales for dealers across the UK, the futuristic TGA WHILL Model C is unlike any other transportable powerchair on the market. Offering retailers stocking the product a unique offering to adult and paediatric customers seeking advanced tech and a sleek aesthetic, the powerchair easily dismantles into three manageable components for car boot storage and is suited for users’ work, home or around town. The front omni-wheels provide forward and lateral movement without the need for traditional castors, bringing a new degree of manoeuvrability to the powerchair market – whilst features such as a remotecontrol app, ‘mouse style’ joystick and clear numerical battery display propel the chair into a league of its own. tgamobility.co.uk/whill/model-c

Vivio from Kymco A tried and tested traditional folding style powered wheelchair that provides a versatile out-the-box solution, the Vivio features seating and footrests that have the ability to be fine-tuned in dealers’ showrooms for the needs of the user, enabling retailers to provide a solution to customers there and then. kymcohealthcare.com

EZI-FOLD FROM MONARCH MOBILITY Built around a magnesium/ aluminium frame to give a manageable lifting weight of 26kg, Monarch Mobility’s ultralight and foldable Ezi-Fold takes transportability to a new level. Boasting a maximum carrying capacity of up to 23.6 stones, this 4mph chair is described as a great asset for enhancing mobility in both the home and outdoors and comes with the latest in powerchair technology. monarchmobility.com

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To find out more about Verlingue’s comprehensive and competitive insurance solutions for the mobility sector, please contact Stephen Aldridge, Client Director, on +44 (0)208 282 8595, email stephen.aldridge@verlingue.co.uk, or visit www.verlingue.co.uk


NEW PRODUCTS FROM SHINE WA-3416 Reflective Cane Holder

HA-4990 Universal Handle Ergonomic design reduces discomfort of holding items with small diameters. Suitable for most standard utensils as well as pens, pencils, tooth brushes, razors etc.

DA-5223 Nail File With two grades of Emery board for filing and shaping nails. Suction cups on the base keep the Nail File firmly in place.

DA-5137 Bracelet Helper Gives you that little extra help to fasten bracelets, watches or jewellery when you need another hand.

SHINE INTERNATIONAL 9 Holkham Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough, PE2 6TE Tel: 01733 391900 • Fax: 01733 391551 • mail@shineinternational.co.uk


innovation inbound

MONARCH’S MOUNTAIN OF NEW MODELS This spring, Monarch Mobility is bringing seven new products to market and there are some models which are guaranteed to turn heads and grab attention. Unveiling the new ranges for the first time, MD Martin Sampson discusses the importance of bringing innovation to its dealers to ensure they enjoy the competitive edge in the market.

B

oasting an impressive record of bringing innovative products to the market for almost two decades, Monarch Mobility’s Martin is confident this latest collection is sure to shake up the sector. “Over the years, we have been at the forefront of some of the big innovations in the market and have developed an eye for identifying products that have the potential to be game-changers,” he explains. “The most recent was the folding scooter. Initially, when we launched the folding scooter concept, manufacturers and dealers laughed at us. Now, folding scooters are appearing everywhere and have not only been good for dealers but have proved to be the solution that many consumers were crying out for. “I am confident that our new products will have the same impact on the market as the folding scooter had and we cannot wait to show the products to our trade partners.”

Arguably, the big innovations in the plethora of new products are the company’s new Hybrid 2-in-1 scooter and powerchair, as well as it's ultralight auto-folding Mojo folding scooter. “Our Hybrid and Mojo are the definitions of innovation and nothing like them have been seen in the UK

“Our Hybrid and Mojo are the definitions of innovation and nothing like them have been seen in the UK before.” MARTIN SIMPSON

The new collection of products features several new 4mph and 8mph mobility scooter models ready for the busy spring and summer seasons when end-users’ attentions turn to outdoor pursuits, as well as a smartlooking, heated, waterproof blanket.

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before. It means we have something really special for our trade partners to offer to their customers,” continues Martin. “The mobility market is becoming more competitive all the time and we know just how important it is for our

trade partners to stay ahead of the competition. It is why we work so hard to focus on innovation and our new products do exactly that, giving our trade partners exactly what they need.” The products will be making their debut on stand N458 at this year’s Naidex on the 17th and 18th March at the NEC in Birmingham, with retailers, end-users and healthcare professionals having the opportunity to learn more and get hands-on with the models. “We are excited to show the products to the public for the first time at Naidex and will be a fantastic chance to receive feedback and generate buzz. They are going to prove popular so I am sure we will be in for a busy couple of days!” www.monarchmobility.com


• • • • •

24V / 2A, 48W power Infrared heat therapy function Carbon fibre elements 5 zone heating 24V adapter equipped with 3 heating degree

• • • • •

4400 mah lithium battery Waterproof Indoor and outdoor use Mains power charger Portable

• • • •

Soft warm inner blanket 2 x securing straps 3 coloured luminated heating lights 1hr Auto Shut Off

C O N TAC T U S TO DAY O N 0808 102 3438 W W W. M O N A R C H M O B I L I T Y.C O M

trade@monarchmobility.com


innovation inbound

New to the market from Monarch Mobility...

The Hybrid 2-in-1

THE HYBRID 2-IN-1

I

s it a bird? Is it a plane? Is a powerchair? Is it a scooter? Well, it certainly isn’t the first two, however, with the DNA of a powerchair and a mobility scooter, Monarch’s new Hybrid 2-in-1 provides end-users with the other two. Aiming to give retailers’ customers the best of both worlds, the Hybrid’s clever design incorporates all the features and benefits of both powered

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mobility devices and is available in a choice of four colours. Capable of being split in seconds and transformed within minutes, the company says the Hybrid is ideal for indoor and outdoor use in either form and can fit into the boot of most cars - its heaviest part when in powerchair form weighs 16.6kg to make it easier for the customer to lift. When transformed into its

powerchair form, the Hybrid can carry a maximum weight of 21 stones and can go up to a speed of 4mph for up to a 15-mile radius, dependant on terrain and carry weight. As a mobility scooter, the Hybrid boasts LED lighting, an electromagnetic braking system, an off-board charging facility and even storage space for shopping.


HEATED WATERPROOF BLANKET Aiming to keep end-users warm when out and about in the colder months, the blanket includes an infrared heat therapy function and a soft, warm inner blanket. With a one-hour auto shut off to enhance user safety, the new waterproof blanket also features three coloured luminated heating lights and provides five-zone heating for user comfort.

The Mojo Eight years on from introducing the first folding scooter to the UK, the market for folding scooter models is reaching a fever pitch as more models continue to appear. With weight being the name of the game, Monarch’s Martin says suppliers have been attempting with varying levels of success to reduce weight to enable users to be able to lift their devices into the car. “Many have tried and failed, however those who have, have stripped back the folding scooter to the bare bones and the end-user looks like they are riding a few tubes of metal,” he suggests. “Here at Monarch Mobility, we have designed a new folding scooter that has kept its sleekness and looks but has a maximum weight of its heaviest part of 11.5kg.” In addition to being ultra-lightweight, Monarch notes that the fully automatic folding Mojo comes with a pressure relief air cushion seat and backrest to enhance riders’ comfort, as well as unique honeycomb tyres for a smoother ride.

Sprint 8

MONARCH’S NEW MOBILITY SCOOTERS Alongside Monarch Mobility’s new Hybrid and Mojo ranges, the company is also launching four new models of mobility scooter: The Sprint 8, the MM8, the MM4, and the Mini4. Both capable of a maximum speed of 8mph and with a range of 25 miles, the road-legal Sprint 8 and MM8 come in red or blue and boast Captain’s Seats. The slightly smaller MM4 also features a Captain’s Seat and enjoys a maximum speed of 4mph and range up to 23 miles. Last but not least is the Mini4, a lightweight 4mph model from Monarch that can be dissembled easily for convenient transportation and a maximum range of 12.4 miles, along with an additional battery with 6.2 miles. Mini 4 & 4 Plus

The Mojo

www.thiis.co.uk | 55


more about...

MORE ABOUT…

RISE AND RECLINE – RISING TO THE NEXT LEVEL Having played a central role in LG Electronics’ rise to glory in UK and Europe in the 2000s – overseeing the company grow from £17m to £159m during his five years as Sales & Marketing Director – it is safe to say that John Lougher knows a thing or two about helping companies to scale up. Leaving behind the multinational, multi-billion-pound world of electronics and white goods, the fully trained Six Sigma engineer is now bringing his expertise to Rise & Recline. Talking with THIIS, John explains some of the changes that have been implemented throughout the business as it looks to capitalise on the growing demand in the mobility market

L

eaving LG after helping the company become a firmly established household name, John worked his magic again after taking over a commercial refrigeration SME. Selling the company after three years of considerable growth, John retired from the business world until the lure of a great opportunity in the mobility industry was too tempting for him to pass by. “I had retired to Portugal with my wife when a friend reached out and told me about Rise & Recline,” says John. A British-based manufacturer of handcrafted adjustable chairs and beds, Rise & Recline has been in the mobility industry since 2001, creating its high-quality products from its Nottingham factory. Well-known in the sector as a manufacturer of bespoke

56 | www.thiis.co.uk

A programme of employee empowerment is a key internal change taking place


furniture, the company was looking for how to take the next step in its development. “We talked about the company and the market and it immediately grabbed my interest,” continues John. “I had a conversation with Nigel Morley, one of the company’s shareholders, and after learning more about what it does and its heritage, I knew I had to become involved.” Joining the specialist manufacturer in September 2019, John has since been busy implementing changes to help the company position itself ready to take advantage of the growing demand for mobility products in the UK. AN EMPHASIS ON EMPOWERMENT Not making any radical changes to Rise and Recline’s core business of manufacturing furniture John says the focus over the past six months has been on transforming how the business runs internally and its culture. “At its core, Rise and Recline is phenomenal at what it does, which is producing high-quality chairs and beds that adjust to peoples’ needs,” he outlines.

(From left): Nigel Morley, Co-Director; John Lougher, Co-Director; and Chartered Accountant Robert Matusiewicz have set Rise and Recline on a clear path to growth

it, then that is the most valuable asset a company can have,” he continues. “We wanted staff to understand that this is their company and what they do matters; Rise and Recline’s successes are the direct result of their efforts and commitment.” Understanding the dedication of the team, John decided to bring Rise & Recline’s 40 staff together during his first month to discuss their thoughts and ideas to create a plan to help move the company forward.

“We are never going to be a high volume, low price manufacturer because of the nature of how we make our products.” JOHN LOUGHER

“Where I saw room for improvement was in regards to processes and systems to enable the company to run more efficiently. A lot of the work over the last six months has been on introducing and implementing those systems.” Arguably the biggest internal change the judicious business leader has made since coming on board is engaging the Rise and Recline team to play a more integral role in the overall running of the company. “I always think that if the people in a company believe in it and feel a part of

“For me, that is what is all about,” he stresses. “By allowing the team to shape the vision of what Rise and Recline is and where we want the company to go, they share in that vision and feel part of something bigger. “It means our plans and strategy have been created by the team that best know our products, our values, our capabilities and our customers.” On reflection, having the people who are fundamental in implementing a strategy help formulate and have a voice in the company’s future

may seem like common sense, yet it is something that is rarely seen in businesses across most sectors. “It was an approach that was completely new to the company and the team had never been engaged like this before,” adds John. DRILLING DOWN ON WHAT IT DOES BEST Having investigated the market and received feedback from the team, Rise and Recline is now following a clearly defined and refined plan for growth and success in the sector. The focus is on doubling down on what the manufacturer does best – crafting high-quality furniture. “As far as I am aware, we were one of the first manufacturers of rise and recline products in the UK and that name has now gone on to become synonymous with these types of products in the industry, so our focus is on protecting our golden brand credentials,” says John. “Importantly, we want to emphasise that our strapline ‘We adjust to your needs’ is more than just a throwaway comment and is one of the key features that set us apart as a company. “A 7 to 10-day turnaround for a handmade, bespoke, quality product is something special and it means scheduling is something that we have to prioritise, which is where the focus on our systems and processes comes

www.thiis.co.uk | 57


more about...

The British rise and recline manufacturer is keen to highlight its bespoke capabilities, driven by its expertise in handmaking its products

in. We are also refining our production process and introducing just in time so we can continue to drive more efficiencies and pass those savings on to our customers.” This decision to focus on the company’s core competencies and USPs will be essential for surviving and thriving in the rise and recline furniture market, which has seen British manufacturers face growing pressure from cheaper imports in recent years. “We are never going to be a high volume, low price manufacturer because of the nature of how we make our products,” notes John. “Our products require skilled workers to achieve the quality we want to deliver, particularly in regards to our chairs, so we will not look to compete in the mass market as that is not our business.” LOOKING AT THE MOBILITY MARKET Central to Rise and Recline’s plans is the mobility market and its retailers, with John highlighting why he believes today’s mobility market fits perfectly with the company’s approach to small-batch manufacturing. “There is a generation of baby boomers that are reaching their 70s

58 | www.thiis.co.uk

and 80s and looking for products and are concerned with more than simply the price tag and are looking for quality, comfort and meeting their needs,” he says. “To reach these private customers, we are working with mobility stores and although we have quite a few mobility retailers in our network, I don’t believe we have always done enough to emphasise the value of working with Rise and Recline, which is going to change.”

built a lot more with our retailers in mind. “It’s about adding real value to the relationship because I do not think people will deal with you if you are just another supplier; you have to give them another reason to deal with you over someone else.” SPECIAL FOCUS ON STOCKIST SUPPORT Offering a wide variety of different mechanisms and features across its

“Marketing and point of sale are areas where retailers will see an immediate improvement.” JOHN LOUGHER

For mobility retailers, John says the company is working on several initiatives to strengthen the support it provides to stockists. “As a supplier of high-quality products, we want to help our retailers so that they can explain to their customers the differences between our products compared to some of the cheaper models in the showroom,” stresses John. “We are developing a new website that is more interactive and has been

product portfolio, John points out that he quickly realised a need to make the offering easy to understand for showroom staff so they can, in turn, communicate that to end-users. “This is why we are focusing more time and effort on supporting our retailers so they can highlight why the price tag on one of our ranges is more than a cheaper alternative when speaking with their customers,” underlines John. “We give professional support and


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more about... our team in the office are fantastic and always happy to work alongside staff in showrooms to work out the best solutions for their customers’ needs. They can advise and provide expert product knowledge to help with the assessment and prescription process. “As these are bespoke products and also essential for the end-users to enjoy a more comfortable and mobile life and improving their independence, is important for us, our retail partners and their customers that we get it right the first time.” MAKING A POINT OF POS According to Rise and Recline’s new director, marketing collateral and point of sale material is arguably one of the areas in need of the most attention. “Marketing and point of sale are areas where retailers will see an immediate improvement,” states John. “Importantly, we have new swatches which are designed with mobility retailers inside. We have spoken with suppliers to find out what are their best-selling, most popular fabrics and have those top 20 fabrics appear first. “We know if retailers give their customers a choice of 1000 fabrics, it will just confuse them so we have done this to try and make that customer journey easier.” Retailers will also see more product

training available to emphasise the features of the Rise and Recline range and how these relate to different user needs and conditions. Interestingly, it is also looking to develop a formal training scheme on certain models, feeding into its new ‘Centres of Excellence’ scheme. THE CENTRES OF EXCELLENCE CONCEPT Alongside the broad spectrum of improvements, the company is implementing to support its retail partners, Rise and Recline is also looking to go one step further and establish close working partnerships with those that John describes as ‘progressive retailers.’ “For those retailers, we can work with them to create a joint marketing support plan, create bespoke products and really collaborate on initiatives to help companies that are happy to work closely with us,” says John. “It is the benefit of our small-batch, flexible production capabilities and we are currently in talks with several retailers who are looking to work with suppliers like this.” With a raft of forward-thinking ideas of how to increase value for dealers, the most eye-catching proposal the company has in the pipeline is its

John has a lot in store for the company’s retail partners

60 | www.thiis.co.uk

‘Centres of Excellence’ concept. “These will be retailers we are working closely with who will stock a selection of our range which they are fully trained on to showcase to customers. We will generate leads and point them to our Centres of Excellence,” details John. “For these retail partners, we will create their range of display products in the colours, fabrics and designs

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND Alongside a focus on perfecting its internal processes and refining its retail engagement strategy, Rise and Recline is focusing on bringing new products to the market. Its latest product is the Infinity Rise and Recline chair with pure Tilt in Space and back relief technology, which combines the functionality of its tilt in space mechanism with the added value of two important features. The first is an independent direct drive foot section operation and the second is the ability for the chair’s back to recline whilst going into a stand position. The new rise and recline chair’s name is inspired from the infinite number of postural positions it offers users and was first revealed at last year’s OT Show, where it impressed OTs and the trade alike – so much so a retailer purchased its only demo from the stand immediately after the show.

The Infinity chair


that best suit their showroom, bespoke POS and on our new website, there will be a ‘Find the Stockist’ area where we will highlight our Centres of Excellence.” NO TIME TO SIT BACK AND RELAX Armed with its clear strategy and retailer-focused plan, there is no doubt that 2020 is to prove a busy year for the furniture manufacturer. With John at the helm to drive the changes, the company’s fountain of knowledge Nigel Morley working on exciting new products set to appear this year, as well as a fully engaged and enthused team ready to make it happen, the manufacturer looks in good shape to rise in the sector. “It is all about bringing exceptional products to the market and making it as easy and worthwhile for our retailers to work with us,” concludes John.

“The outlook is bright and we are looking forward to what the future holds and sharing our success with our team, our end-users and importantly, our retail trade partners.”

www.riseandrecline.co.uk

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let’s get it clear…

WHAT MAKES A GOOD CUSHION? 2. FUNCTIONALITY This is the second article in a series which aims to start getting people thinking more about what goes into a cushion that makes it ‘good’ for one person, but not for another. In the first article we identified the three key elements around which a cushion can be assessed – functionality, tissue integrity, and posture management. This article unpicks aspects around functionality.

F

or the clinician, tissue integrity and positioning elements of a cushion come at the top of the list, while for the user, once these aspects have been covered, functionality comes top of their list, and can make the difference as to whether the cushion will be used, or just left on the shelf. COMFORT Comfort is subjective. Barbara Crane, in the US, interviewing wheelchair users as the background for her PhD thesis, established that Comfort was the most important element to users1. The subjectivity behind comfort is why in Switzerland a clinician will prescribe a choice of three cushions, each of which would be suitable for the user’s clinical needs, and the user then tries and selects which cushion they prefer. CUSHION WEIGHT The weight of the cushion should be a crucial part of the decision process. If the user will be moving the cushion from one site to another, how easy is it for that person to lift and move it? If the user is acquiring a manual wheelchair, then every extra gram that the cushion weighs, will equate to the extra effort that will be needed by the user or carer to move the chair.

62 | www.thiis.co.uk

MINIMISING FATIGUE Vibrations coming up through the wheels and the seat add to the levels of a user’s fatigue when propelling a manual wheelchair. A study from the University of Pittsburgh compared four different cushion materials, and reported that air-foam cushions dampened vibrations better than foam, air, or gel cushions2, so the materials that the cushion is made from make a difference to the user’s rate of fatiguing.

but instead the faecal bacteria that are released with flatulence that have been found to be the biggest aging element for cushions. Thus it is ideal that the cushion and its cover can be readily cleaned and disinfected. Under CE marking regulations for Instructions for Use, cushions

CUSHION SELF-SUFFICIENCY The clinician is likely to get better compliance from users and carers when the amount of required dayto-day adjustment of their cushion is minimal. The importance and amount of daily user/carer cushioninteraction will be dictated by how critical it is for adjustments to be made for the cushion to continue to be clinically effective, so ideally select a cushion where possible that needs minimal day-to-day set-up interaction. MAINTENANCE AND DURABILITY Although we expect elements such as moisture, temperature, and sunlight to be the fastest source of aging cushions, it is not these elements,

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


are required to be supplied with instructions for approved methods of cleaning and disinfection. Just as we might have more socks than shoes, mainly because it is what’s closer to the skin that needs washing most frequently, it is recommended that we have at least two covers for each cushion, so that while one cover is in the wash, the cushion can still be used with the other cover. ENABLEMENT OF DAYTO-DAY ACTIVITIES The needs of the user to carry out their normal daily activities should be taken into consideration when selecting a suitable cushion. If the user needs to reach away from their wheelchair to carry out their daily activities, then the stability of the cushion to permit this is important. There is a new International Standard (ISO 16840-13) being prepared to assess the lateral stability of one cushion as compared with another. Another area for consideration relates to transfers. The smoother the cover, the easier it is to transfer. Likewise, the less precontoured shape there is to the cushion, the easier it is to slide off it. This has to be balanced with the value of the contouring for posture management needs. If the one cushion is to be used in different applications, how easy is it to be taken from one device to another – is there a handle? How strong are the hook-and-loop attachments? Appropriate labelling is also valuable, particularly to aid inexperienced carers.

Cushion Functionality: Check/Score as per user’s needs 1. Comfort 2. Cushion weight 3. Vibration dampening 4. Low maintenance 5. Cleanability 6. Stability 7. Ease of transfers 8. Transferability 9. Appropriate labelling 10. Fail safe

Figure 1. Flammability label

Simple indications of top and front are often needed to ensure the correct part of the cushion is interfacing with the relevant parts of the user’s body. Simple washing instructions should be supplied. UK furnishing flammability regulations require certain warning and related labelling for cushions (Fig. 1). FAIL-SAFE A final, but possibly the most important aspect: how important is it and how likely is it for the user that the cushion, if it fails, fails safely? Different materials each have their own level of risk. Foam over time will tend to develop a ‘set’, or the cells break down, and thus the development of a failure to give optimal immersion to redistribute pressure forces is a slow (indiscernible) process. At the other end of the scale, whereas

an air cushion provides excellent immersion, a puncture immediately leaves the user at risk of tissue injury. If a gel cushion leaks, or the gel gets displaced, then what is in place under the gel becomes critical for continued protection of the skin. IN CONCLUSION There are many elements that should be taken into account when selecting what might the most suitable cushion for an individual that go well beyond the immediate clinical needs of tissue integrity and posture management. This article provides a number of the relevant items under the functionality heading.

1. Crane, et al (2004) Development of a Consumer-Driven Wheelchair Seating Discomfort Assessment Tool (WcS-DAT). Intl J Rehab Res 27: 85-90 2. DiGiovine, C.P. et al (2000) Analysis of Vibration and Comparison of Four Wheelchair Cushions During Manual Wheelchair Propulsion Proc RESNA, 429-431

‘LET’S GET IT CLEAR’ BY DR BAREND TER HAAR One in a series of occasional resumés of aspects in the world of posture and mobility where there are common misconceptions, and myths to be addressed, to help promote better practice. Further items can be found at www.beshealthcare.net. If you are interested in receiving further information on the topic, please contact barend@beshealthcare.net Dr ter Haar has been involved in seating and mobility for over 30 years, including lecturing internationally, and developing international seating standards.

www.thiis.co.uk | 63


innovation inbound

MOTION HEALTHCARE SET TO ELEVATE INNOVATION As warmer and drier months (hopefully) approach and retailers see a rise in demand from customers looking for products to help them enjoy more active pursuits, Motion Healthcare is launching four products to help its trade partners attract attention this spring. Tim Mills, Head of Business for Motion, discusses what mobility retailers can expect from the fast-growing supplier in the way of innovation.

F

irst appearing in the mobility market in 2016, Motion has now garnered a reputation in the market for innovation. The company has a Tim Mills stable core network of retailers and a well-known range of powered mobility products including its eDrive, Lithilite and Foldalite. Carving out its place in a market dominated by several large players, Tim says it is the company’s approach to embracing new technologies and working with its dealers that have helped the company make its mark. “Since day one, innovation has been at the heart of Motion as we have had to look for ways to stand out in the market against the larger suppliers,” explains Tim. “As a smaller supplier, we have that capability to form close relationships with all of our retail partners and react quickly to their needs. It means we make the most out our ability to be nimble and adaptable.” Continuing in that vein, the company is now bringing out four new products that it promises will continue to push innovation forward in the mobility market. Proving to be the stars of the show will likely be the Elev8, a unique portable mobility hoist, and the Alumina, a super lightweight aluminium scooter.

64 | www.thiis.co.uk

“The Elev8 is a fantastic addition to our range and the reception from our retail partners that we have shown it to has been phenomenal,” said Tim. “The one-piece travel mobility scooter market has grown considerably in the past 12 months, however, with these products being all in one, lifting them into boots can be difficult for some. The Elev8 will allow retailers to continue to sell these popular onepiece products and because it is portable, it gives users the freedom to use it in any car they are travelling in.” Launching alongside the Elev8 is

Motion Healthcare is also bringing its new Aerolite to the market which will be a simpler and lighter version of its Foldalite powerchair range, as well as its Foldacrutch range of, well, folding crutches... just in case the name didn’t give it away. All the new products are available for retailers to purchase and Motion will be showcasing all the products, along with existing models, on stand NT86 at this year’s Naidex. "It is fantastic to have new products that we know will meet our retail partners’ needs and we can’t wait to let people get hands-on and find out

“It is fantastic to have new products that we know will meet our retail partners’ needs and we can’t wait to let people get hands-on and find out more about them” TIM MILLS

the Alumina which Tim is confident will become one of the most popular models on the lightweight scooter scene. “The Alumina is our new aluminium boot scooter. Once dissembled, the heaviest part of the scooter weighs under 10kg which is the lightest on the market when paired with its 30-mile range it will be an excellent addition to our retailers’ portfolios,” he added. In addition to its big headliners,

more about them,” finished Tim. "I am sure our new launches will help give retailers the competitive edge this year so be sure to come over and see the ranges at the show or contact us and we'll be happy to come and see you." To find out more about the new ranges and retail opportunities, contact 0844 257 8150 or email enquiries@motionhealthcare.co.uk www.motionhealthcare.co.uk


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innovation inbound

New to the market from Motion Healthcare...

THE ELEV8 Described as the perfect travel companion for anyone struggling to lift their scooter or powerchair in and out of the car boot, the Elev8 is a lightweight platform lift for those that may not wish to have a permanent lifting fixed to a single-vehicle. Weighing 10kg, the platform lift plugs into a powered mobility device and can lift up to 50kg to boot level at the press of a button. Two safety straps, stabilising legs and locking castor wheels ensure the user’s load is secure, whilst users also have the option to purchase an Elev8 fitted battery that enables the device to run independently. The Elev8

FOLDACRUTCH The Alumina

The Alumina range In the boot scooter segment, weight matters. It has resulted in suppliers across the industry working on ways to reduce the weight of their models in preparation for the summer season. Motion’s new Alumina is taking this a step further with its aluminium chassis and lithium battery technology helping to make it one of the lightest car boot scooters on the market. In addition to its reduced weight, it

66 | www.thiis.co.uk

also boasts an impressive range, with its pro version offering a maximum range of 30 miles which it claims is the furthest of any car boot scooter. Perhaps the biggest selling point for dealers is the Alumina’s weight when split into its various components however, with the heaviest part coming in just under 10kg when disassembled which Motion states is the lightest on the market.

Diversifying slightly from its powered mobility roots, the Foldacrutch range aims to bring as much style as functionality to the walking aid. Made from aluminium, the lightweight crutches feature a maximum user weight of 121kg and are capable of being folded down into two sections which clip together so users can easily carry the Foldacrutch in a free storage bag. Fully height adjustable, the crutch is tipped with a rubber shock-absorbing ferrule and a reflector on the front of the handle, whilst a Velcro arm strap is also fitted to avoid the crutches being dropped.


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Horses, Jason’s iconic and instantlyrecognisable voice will aim to quickly create affinity with Stiltz’ target audience. The TV spot features Stiltz’ Duo+ Home Lift being used in a home whilst Jason describes the features

MOUNTAIN TRIKE ADOPTS NEW MANUFACTURING SOFTWARE All-terrain wheelchair manufacturer The Mountain Trike Company has introduced Flowlens’ CRM & MRP software to modernise its production planning, scheduling, and inventory control. Stating the decision was driven by international growing demand, Manging Director Tim Morgan commented: “Our all-terrain mobility products are made up of several sub-assemblies with their own bill of materials, and staying on top of the stock requirements has become a particular challenge. “With growth in orders, our combination of spreadsheets, CRM, Sage 50 and manual processes create bottlenecks and time-consuming admin to stay on top of stock levels, purchasing and the resulting paperwork. This requires much human input, and we want to free up time for our team to focus on customers.” According to Flowlens, the software will integrate all processes to provide better visibility of potential problems and stock demand. “The built-in CRM means customer interactions, billing and after-sales service are captured, creating a single platform for the business to work from,” added Flowlens CEO Rich Dale. mountaintrike.com

68 | www.thiis.co.uk

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CONSORTIUM CALLS FOR DFG INCREASE

Supplying Scandinavian style in Scotland Mobility Scotland has confirmed it will bring Danish-manufacturer VELA’s mobility and seating solutions to central Scotland. Boasting Scandinavian style and function, VELA’s ergonomically-designed chairs are produced in Denmark in collaboration with OTs and end-users to meet the need of those with temporary or chronic conditions. Billy Finnie, Operations Manager of Mobility Scotland, highlighted that the range fits in with the company’s growing specialised seating and assistive technology portfolio. Outlining how it will bring Danish products to the market, Billy said: “Our strategic business model will be implemented across our business-to-business channel, of which we’re well placed amongst our growing network of OTs, care Homes, charitable funding organisations, community support groups and healthcare organisations. “Our jewel in the crown, however, is status as preferred suppliers on the Equipu framework which will ensure many more OTs across all the local authorities who feed into the largest equipment loan store in Europe will be much more aware of the VELA range of products.” mobilityscotlandltd.co.uk

A consortium of national organisations has urged Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, to increase the level of Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) funding ahead of the March 2020 Budget – the first budget of the new Government. In a letter from Sue Adams OBE, Chair of the Home Adaptations Consortium, she details how “an ageing housing stock, higher numbers of people over 65, an increase in working age adults with long term disabilities, and more families with disabled children, the need for essential home adaptations rises, and so does the required level of funding.” Noting that “last year’s 8 per cent increase to the DFG budget was most welcome,” the Consortium stresses “it still falls short of meeting this need.” The Home Adaptations Consortium consists of 24 leading organisations, including Age UK, the British Healthcare Trades Association, Care & Repair England and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.

Purple Tuesday 2020 Purple Tuesday is set to return in 2020 after a wildly successful 2019 saw more than 2500 companies take part. The event aims to unleash the ‘purple pound’ – the combined spending power of disabled people and their families estimated to be worth £249 billion annually – by calling on businesses to improve retail experiences for disabled shoppers. In the mobility sector, The Ramp People, Allied Mobility, Designed2Enable, Jay-Care Stairlifts and Mobility, The Mobility Aids Centre, Warrington Disability Partnership and Lifestyle & Mobility participated, welcoming the opportunity to fly the flag for accessibility and gain valuable local exposure. Free for businesses to register, this year’s Purple Tuesday will be held on the 3rd November. purpletuesday.org.uk 70 | www.thiis.co.uk


EXCEL G-LOGIC Get personal with the modern new take on the old G-Lite Pro, the Excel G-Logic. With a lightweight aluminium frame available in four frame colours, including scratch resistant Trail Black and four upholstery colours; the Excel G-Logic boasts customisation. With up to 16 variations, any user can make this chair their own.

Features • 16”, 18” and 20” seat widths • Available in Self-propel or Transit • Interchangeable upholstery colours • Swing-away and quick release legrests • Attendant brakes as standard for both Transit and Self-Propel

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pick of the month

WHAT PRODUCTS ARE RETAILERS IN THE INDUSTRY RAVING ABOUT?

Wondering which products are grabbing retailers’ attention? Each month, retailers in the mobility industry highlight one product that has stood out for them and why… 72 | www.thiis.co.uk


Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Pick of the month: Stannah 260 Curved Stairlift from Stannah

For this month, I would like to pick out one of our bestselling stairlifts that has been consistent and reliable now for many years. “As a distributor and installer of stairlifts, the one thing above all others that we are looking for is reliability. We want a machine that covers all the bases with regards to options and suitability for our clients - that goes without saying. But we need to know that once we have sold and installed the product, we will not be running around attending to breakdowns every five minutes, which is not good for our customer and definitely not good for the preservation of our margin. “Our pick is therefore the Stannah 260 curved stairlift. We would typically install around 150 of these models each year and it has proven over many years to be a reliable choice. “The support from the company is also immense. With very intense training programmes and stringent quality controls which extend to quality checks on our performance in the field and full certification as a ‘Centre of Excellence’.

www.tpg-disableaids.co.uk

Lauren Bromfield Director of Classic Mobility

Pick of the month: Classic Pro Reacher from The Helping Hand Company

Our product of the month for March is the Classic Pro Reacher from The Helping Hand Company. The quality of this reacher is fantastic and the magnetic tip, dressing post and stick clip as standard make it stand out from competitors. "There are various models available including a folding version which is ideal for travelling and an arthi-grip option which has a full hand trigger. "Having a selection in the showroom makes it easy to assist our clients to find the perfect reacher for their needs which makes it a very popular item.

www.classicmobility.org.uk www.thiis.co.uk | 73


pick of the month

Ceri Dixon, Marketing Manager of Ableworld

Pick of the month: Apex Lite Boot Scooter from Pride Mobility

As we are coming into the spring when many customers start to enjoy getting out and about, we have picked a product that helps people remain mobile. Let’s just hope this weather starts to improve soon, so we can all enjoy the spring! “For our product of the month, we have chosen the Apex Lite Boot Scooter from Pride Mobility. This scooter is not only comfortable but also modern, lightweight and agile, making it a favourite with many of our customers. “Featuring a comfortable folding seat, easy to use handlebar controls, alloy wheels and a convenient charge point, the Apex can be easily taken apart to fit inside the boot of a car for easy transportation or travelling. “It comes with the added benefit of a lifetime frame warranty for added peace of mind for our customers. “It really is an ideal option for enabling our customers to enjoy greater independence and more active lives. www.ableworld.co.uk

Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility

Pick of the month: Good Grips Y Peeler from Able2

I really love this item and have one at home that I use all the time. I wouldn’t be without it and can highly recommend it for anyone who has problems with standard peelers. “I have problems with my joints at times and find it hard to sometimes grip the vegetable and the peeler or knife. The Y shaped peeler has a host of little design features to make it easy and safe to use. The Good Grips Y Peeler has a sharp blade that swivels, reducing the range of motion required in the user’s wrist and elbow, thus reducing the effort required to peel potatoes, carrots, sweet potato or butternut squash. “It effortlessly glides down the vegetable with ease and has a chunky rubber grip handle that is non-slip and very comfortable, giving the user a very secure but comfy grip, even when the hands are wet. “The good grips peeler has a high quality, stainless steel blade and is also equipped with a hole in the handle to allow it to be hung up. It is a kitchen essential I wouldn’t be without!

www.peoplefirstmobility.co.uk

74 | www.thiis.co.uk


A FIXED RATE INSURANCE PACKAGE

RETAILER ESSENTIALS Exclusive to Retail Members of the BHTA

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Option 2: Including Employers Liability - £280 including 12% Insurance Premium Tax

REQUEST INFORMATION For more information on our insurance packages, please contact Stephen Aldridge - our Client Director who has worked with BHTA’s members for many years. E: stephen.aldridge@verlingue.co.uk T: +44 (0) 208 282 8595 W: www.verlingue.co.uk

Cover provided by Markel (UK) Ltd

ABOUT US Verlingue is the approved insurance broker for the BHTA insurance scheme, which is available exclusively to BHTA Members. We are part of the Verlingue Group, one of Europe’s largest independent insurance brokers, employing over 1,100 people and placing premiums in excess of €2 billion.

Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority


pick of the month

Darren Macey, Business Development Manager for Lifestyle & Mobility

Pick of the month: Edge 3 Stretto from Quantum Rehab

The powerchair market has been innovating massively over the last four years but Quantum Rehab has just taken powerchair innovation to the next level… actually, to iLevel! “The iLevel function is now on the most compact performance powerchair on the market to date! “This is so exciting for all of our customers as you can now get a compact powerchair without compromising on seating, ride quality and range. “The Edge 3 Stretto is small and mighty! It comes with SRS (Smooth Ride Suspension), a wheelbase width of 20.5 inches and will also ride at 3.5mph with a 12-inch seat raiser, as well as standard seating having Coolcare technology. “In true Quantum style, you have a choice of over 10 colour options so you can truly customize it to your personality or taste. This product is going to be a true gamechanger for the industry and a product that we simply cannot afford to not have in our portfolio. That why Lifestyle and Mobility have made this our pick of the month.

www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk

Elaine Ferguson, Mobility Services Manager of Fortuna Mobility

Pick of the month: Janibell Akord Discreet Disposal

At Fortuna we recognise that incontinence is a difficult subject. “Disposing of pads – and all the problems this brings – is something that most people are too embarrassed to speak about, which is why we sell Akord Discreet Disposal and have one permanently on display in our showroom. “The Akord canister is sleek and elegant and has been designed to fit with all home environments. Its handsfree system allows the user to quickly and discreetly dispose of incontinence items – they simply step on the ergonomic pedal which opens the lid, and then drop the refuse into the extra wide opening. “An advanced ‘double seal’ lid traps odours, and, therefore, keeps the room smelling clean and fresh, while the hygienic design also ensures that no-one comes into contact with the inside contents when emptying the unit. The liners are latex-free and made from 20 per cent recycled material, while the refills are powder-fresh scented and made from strong film that resists stretching and are tough on odour. “Akord really is a discreet and simple disposal system. It’s helped many of our customers overcome some of the worries connected with incontinence in a hygienic and efficient manner and we’re very happy to be associated with this great product.

www.fortunamobility.com

76 | www.thiis.co.uk


Clinical Seating Specialist South England – Negotiable salary Our client has been established for almost 15 years and has seen significant growth to which they would like to expand their team within the specialist seating industry. Our client prides themselves on providing the best possible seating and mobility systems to the NHS wheelchair services and also private clients throughout the UK. You will be carrying out assessments and demonstrations in posture, seating and mobility within NHS clinics and to private clients throughout the south of England. You will be required to play an active role in the prescription of custommade seating products. You will be expected to travel on a daily basis to various locations to attend NHS clinics to find solutions and assess clients’ needs to ensure the comfort and safety of each individual and provide the best quality products to suit their needs. Full training will be provided and tailored to the successful candidate. You will have excellent product knowledge within the posture and seating sector and will have previously worked in an NHS environment as well as in the homes of private customers. You will be confident in carrying out assessments and demonstrations to recommend the best product for the individual. Ideally, you would have previously worked in a clinical environment and be competent in working under pressure. You will possess a positive and professional attitude and have a sympathetic manner towards all clients and surroundings. A full clean driving licence is essential. Salary: Negotiable depending on experience plus a company van, mobile, pension, 25 days’ holiday (bank holidays on top) Please email your CV confidentially to  antony@trustedrecruiter.co.uk

Technical Support Engineer UK & worldwide - £35k-£40k Our client has been established for just under 10 years and has seen rapid growth within the business through manufacturing, installing and selling home lifts into customers’ homes. Our client has achieved various success and has been awarded for their high-quality innovative products and exceptional customer service within the home lift industry. Our client supports customers throughout the UK and also Europe and worldwide. They are extremely proud of their success and growth within the industry. The priority for our client is the customer and providing outstanding customer service. You will be carrying out servicing, maintenance and installations of the product range to help support customers in their homes. You will be expected to promote technical training for trade customers and understand the client’s technical needs. Another vital part of your role will be to provide support over the phone to trade customers and also keep customers up to date on any product changes. You will promote the company’s excellent reputation and provide first-class customer service at all times. Extensive travel will be required with this role and also be part of a call out service which will be run on a rota basis.

You will ideally have experience in a previous technical support role. Experience in a senior engineer role will also be considered along with a technical qualification. Product knowledge in the home lift industry will be advantageous. You will need to be confident in communicating with the team and also have a professional telephone manner. You will have skills in fault finding and possess a positive and professional attitude towards your work. You will have the drive and passion in delivering outstanding customer service. Motivation is key within this role as you will work independently. IT skills and to speak another language will also be desirable. A full clean driving license is required. £35k-£40k base salary (dependant on experience) plus a company bonus structure, pension, company vehicle, phone and laptop. Please submit your CV confidentially to antony@trustedrecruiter.co.uk to discuss further

Regional Assessor/ Regional Manager East Midlands, East Anglia, London and South East - £37k plus commission Having been in business for over 25 years, the client is a manufacturer and supplier of specialist assistive bathing equipment. As a Regional Assessor, you will be working closely with therapists to demonstrate, assess and offer specialist bathing equipment in the region. You will also work with children and families who require additional support in bathing. Your main route to market will be through local authorities, the community and end-users. You will be attending regular shows and events to demonstrate the equipment on offer such as OTAC and taking part in OT training events. The ideal candidate will be able to show empathy; this is not a hard sell role but more about the ability to demonstrate mobility equipment paediatrics, so it requires empathy. The candidate must be willing to travel as this covers a large territory. The role also includes some nights away. You will also need to be willing to drive a demo van. Base salary of £37k plus commission, OTE £9k uncapped. Other benefits include a phone, laptop, demo van, pension and 30 days holiday. Confidentially send a copy of your CV to antony@trustedrecruiter.co.uk to discuss further If the current jobs listed are unsuitable, you can still confidentially register your details with Trusted Recruiter in order to be contacted about any other vacancies which may be suitable in the future. Send a copy of your CV to  contact@trustedrecruiter.co.uk  and one of the team will contact you.

To apply for any role, confidentially send a copy of your CV to antony@trustedrecruiter.co.uk to discuss further

0333 0144 014 www.trustedrecruiter.co.uk www.thiis.co.uk | 77


recruitment

Specialist Mobility Adviser STAFFORDSHIRE

Are you dynamic and driven? Then join us and make a difference –

Abacus Regional Assessment Manager SE England Part of the Gainsborough Healthcare Group, Abacus is a specialist and respected UK manufacturer and supplier of assistive baths and bathroom equipment for the disabled paediatric and adults market. We work closely with Case Workers, Occupational Therapists, Local Authorities, Councils and Building Contractors – proudly offering the widest range of bespoke assistive bathing solutions. Responsible for business development in East Anglia, East Midlands, Greater London and South East, you will be accountable for establishing, developing and managing relationships with a view to maximising sales through an ethical and client-centric approach. This role is of key importance to the Gainsborough Healthcare Group as the Abacus brand is predicted to deliver significant growth in the coming years. As such, this demanding yet highly rewarding role provides the opportunity to excel in an emotive field, working alongside like-minded passionate specialists. The successful candidate will have strong commercial drive and a winning mentality – ideally with mobility/healthcare experience. Compassion and understanding of vulnerable clients and families are also vital attributes. All hardworking, robust, structured and target-orientated applicants can submit CVs to: andrew.williams@ghg-uk.com

ITY RETAILER! JOIN THE LEADING MOBIL An exciting opportunity has arisen within Ableworld (UK) Ltd for a proactive Specialist Mobility Adviser who would advise clients on our specialist range of products. This role would suit someone either from a care, nursing or OT background who is looking to build on their existing skills in a retail setting. Comprehensive training, a company van, mobile phone and laptop will be provided. Duties will include, but not limited to: • Working pro-actively to help clients with advice on our specialist range • Completing assessments including seating and pressure relief • Meeting company representatives to discuss new products and negotiate prices • Visiting Trade Shows Skills and Experience: • Be able to promote services and products to clients • Have excellent communication skills • Have a strong commitment to customer service Visit www.ableworld.co.uk for more information about the company. Please email a covering letter and your CV to: recruitment@ableworld.co.uk

Good luck!

2125ABA_rsm_jobadvertFeb20v1.indd 1

Monday-Saturday (5 days over 6 on rota basis) £22k to £23,500 (OTE £26,500 to £28,250 after bonuses) Permanent – Full-time

17/02/2020 13:14

Exciting Opportunity for 2020!

Sales Manager OTE £70k Assistive Bathing, part of the Kingswood Corporation are the preeminent leaders in home mobility solutions. For over 21 years they have been manufacturing and supplying high quality & innovative adjustable beds, riser recliners, bath lifts and bathrooms to consumers in their own homes. This is an exceptional opportunity for a talented Sales Professional who fully understands the importance of keeping their team motivated, ensuring they are completing sales presentations, and how to prescribe and set a positive role model example. Our field sales force enjoy the support of regionally based sales managers who are responsible for ensuring performance is optimised, headcount is maintained and customers receive the best service possible. The successful candidate will be willing to travel and possess the drive & energy to lead an existing sales team. Earnings are uncapped but realistically a committed, self employed professional should comfortably earn in excess of £70k with the possibility for the right individual to progress to their ultimate career goal. Interested candidates should forward CV’s to cvs@assistivebathing.co.uk

LOLER Engineer Healthcare Distribution Direct is a nationwide delivery, installation & compliance company based in Heckmondwike, West Yorkshire. We specialize in the delivery, installation, demonstration and handover of all types of healthcare products and furniture. Due to further opportunities we are looking to recruit a LOLER engineer for inspections and maintenance primarily on beds, hoists & baths. The Role • Full-time • Involves driving a 3.5t Luton box van, loading and unloading of products from our warehouse in Heckmondwike • Start times between 3.00 to 7.00am working nationwide • Overnights are a must which will be planned, and hotel booked • Maximum 3 night away per week and overtime maybe required Salary Dependent on experience. Average working week will be 50-60 hrs

Responsibilities and Duties • Driving 3.5 ton Vans • Loading & Unloading Vans • Completing a full demonstration for the customer • Diagnosing and repairing all Healthcare Products • Taking the vehicle home and keeping it clean/tidy Qualifications and Skills • Driving experience - 3 years • LOLER experience • Excellent customer service skill • Home delivery experience ideal but not essential To apply, please forward a CV to info@hdd-ltd.com

YO 78 | www.thiis.co.uk

We are a nationwide delivery company based in the heart of Yorkshire. installation, demonstration, handover and testing of all types of healthc

Our services include:


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

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

Ergo Lite 2 Self Propel Wheelchair

Ergo Lite 2 Transit Wheelchair


WHILL MODEL C

Award-winning contemporary design with an innovative and unique omni wheel system. With Bluetooth technology for remote operation, intuitive controls and six stylish colours to choose from, the WHILL Model C is developed with the user in mind.

To enquire about adding the WHILL Model C to your range

Call 01787 888 106

or email trade.sales@tgamobility.co.uk www.tgamobility.co.uk QUOTE: THSA20

The UK’s leading range of mobility products since 1985

Profile for THIIS

THIIS March 2020  

In the March issue of THIIS, there is a particular focus on powerchairs. We see new powerchairs and other products coming into the mobility...

THIIS March 2020  

In the March issue of THIIS, there is a particular focus on powerchairs. We see new powerchairs and other products coming into the mobility...

Profile for thiis