THIIS TRADE MAGAZINE ISSUE 272 MAY 2021
Also inside... ISSUE 272 MAY 2021
Top mobility product picks Ecommerce pros and cons BHTS: Supporting the trade
Providing news and views in the trade since 1999
Mobility Scotland reveals how delivering friendly customer service alongside excellent product expertise is the way to go
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From the editor Welcome!
15 18 Features
16 British Healthcare Trade Show 18 Retailer Spotlight: Mobility Scotland 26 Trade Talk: Easystart 29 Supplier Spotlight: Helping Hand Pressure Care 36 Trade Thoughts
04 News, deals and people 08 Retailers’ Choice: Mobility accessories and power add-ons 40 Let’s Get It Clear 42 The OT’s Perspective 44 Retailers’ Buyers Guide
The pandemic may have forced many in the mobility and access industry to rethink their ways of working over the last year but one thing’s for sure: it hasn’t dulled the thirst of manufacturers to introduce new and innovative products to the market – which is very good news for retailers! Now the doors of non-essential retailers are open, many are looking forward to the increased footfall that may result from this. A good place to start for inspiration would be the Retailers’ Choice (p8) and Buyers’ Guide (p44) features, which are focused on mobility accessories and power add-ons. With everything from practical waterproof covers and heated blankets to useful powerpack add-ons and quirky dog trailers, they are great as add-on sales or as freebies to enhance a bigger sale. Batteries are one of the most essential accessories for powerchairs and scooters, and one of the leading brands out there for these is Haze – which are supplied in the UK by Easystart. Read our feature with Cillian Brugha, Managing Director of Easystart, on page 29 to find out more about Haze, and his tips for safe battery care. In other features, THIIS chats to Billy Finnie, Operations Manager at Mobility Scotland (p18), whose firm recently won a Motability award for its customer service. Mitch Preedy, Manager of Helping Hand Pressure Care (p29), also discusses his firm’s success in the pressure care industry and plans for new product ranges. Exciting opportunities are also coming up for the trade to reconnect. The British Healthcare Trades Show on 15 June 2021 in Leeds is a must for the diary, so find out how to register your place on page 16. Enjoy the issue!
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NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE
News, deals & people Yorkshire Care launches hip protection device
Mobility aid supplier Yorkshire Care Equipment has launched the Hip’Guard Hip Protection Belt into the UK market, a protection device that uses motion analysis, fall detection, and airbag technology to protect the wearer from hip fractures during a fall. The Hip’Guard, which is worn like a standard belt, is the third fall assistance and protection device released by the company in 14 months – following the firm’s Raizer II and Raizer M falls lifting chair launches in January 2020 and January 2021. George Hulbert, Sales Director at Yorkshire Care Equipment, said: “We are thrilled to be bringing Hip’Guard to market as the exclusive UK distributor. “Crucially, it has been shown to effectively reduce the risk of hip fractures. But it’s also a product that is comfortable and practical for our customers to use. The belt is discreet, lightweight, and comes in multiple sizes.” Yorkshire Care Equipment hopes the product will help the NHS face the challenges from falls among older people.
AAT LAUNCHES MOBILE LIFTING CHAIR Elderly mobility innovator AAT has launched a mobile lifting chair which enables a person who has fallen to be comfortably and safely lifted up to a sitting or almost standing position. The Raizer II mobile lifting chair can be used single-handedly and effortlessly, supporting the entire body of a person as they are lifted up in a dignified and safe way. The component-based portable and lightweight system flat-packs into a convenient carry bag for storage and transportation to where it is needed. This means that anyone, however slight or petite, can lift even an obese person from the floor and they can do so on their own, singlehandedly, safely and without effort.
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A round-up of the key trade stories for business leaders to digest
Cheshire’s Community Equipment Service operation is launched Ross Care, a provider of wheelchair services and mobility equipment for the NHS and local authorities, has launched the new Community Equipment Service for Cheshire. The service contract was awarded to the provider in December 2021 and has been commissioned by Cheshire East Council, Cheshire West Council and Cheshire CCG for four years with potential to extend for a further two. For the first time, Cheshire Integrated Community Equipment Service brings together equipment provision for both Cheshire West and East into one operation. The service’s goal is to enable more people to be supported in their own home and to reduce hospital and care home admissions. It is being facilitated through the set-up of Ross Care’s new Winsford service centre, which houses local administration and an equipment recycling operation. Additionally, the centre offers a click-and-collect point for locals and a meeting space for professionals across the region. Paul Woodall, Operations Manager, commented: “The first few days have been a real success with prescribers already being complementary of the bespoke ordering system and service delivery.”
HANDICARE EXPANDS PRODUCTION Stairlifts manufacturer Handicare Accessibility is increasing capacity to meet growing demand from distributors in North America and has announced a multi-million CAD investment in a new production line at parent company Savaria Corporation’s existing facility in Toronto, Canada. The investment is set to increase output and reduce lead time for Handicare’s Freecurve single rail stairlift for distributors in Canada and the United States. Handicare was acquired by Savaria in March to create a new global leader in accessibility, employing more than 2,400 people worldwide and with a portfolio now including an extended range of stairlifts, home elevators and platform lifts.
Glove sling innovation promises to set new industry standards
Permobil eyes up Italian manual wheelchair firm Mobility manufacturer Permobil has entered into an agreement to acquire Progeo, an acquisition which promises to help strengthen its presence in the Italian market while improving its portfolio of ultralight manual wheelchairs and carbon fibre models in Europe. Boasting a turnover of €10 million, Progeo has a strong position in Italy, where it develops and produces advanced manual wheelchairs. Bengt Thorsson, CEO of Permobil, commented: “With the acquisition of Progeo, Permobil significantly increases its presence in the manual wheelchair segment in Europe. “I’m proud to welcome Progeo, with their expertise within complex rehab and unique wheelchairs designed to represent the personality of the users, to Permobil. “This is an important step in our overall strategy of developing the next generation of advanced assistive technology and services for individuals.” The transaction is expected to close in June, subject to regulatory approvals.
ABLEWORLD ON TV National mobility retail chain Ableworld is hoping to increase its brand awareness with the launch of a brandnew TV advert aimed at customers in Shropshire. The retailer worked with Manchester media agency Edison Media to produce the 30-second advert, which it said took a full day to film, followed by weeks of editing, and a month of preparation. Ableworld decided to take the jump and branch out into advertising on TV to increase brand awareness and capture its ethical approach to mobility equipment, said Ceri Dixon, Senior Marketing Manager. She said: “I feel it really portrays the caring mobility retailer that we are, capturing the positive experience of visiting an Ableworld store, and hopefully our customers like it just as much as we do.”
Care & Independence has stated that its new sling innovation could provide a major step change for carers in hoisting their patients comfortably. Extensive testing and trialling, as well as customer and occupational therapist feedback, led to the firm producing the new Glove Diamond Deluxe and Glove Diamond Deluxe Plus slings. A “deluxe-style” shape provides full-body support with a patented diamond-shaped aperture, reducing pressure on the sacrum and coccyx when hoisted and providing increased toileting access. James Bennett, Care & Independence’s Sales and Marketing Director, said the Glove Diamond family was a “game changer”. “We firmly believe that the Glove Diamond Deluxe and Glove Diamond Deluxe Plus will set new industry standards for years to come.”
DHG RANKS FIRST IN PROFIT TRACK 100 LIST Pressure care manufacturer Direct Healthcare Group has been ranked first in the 2021 annual Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100, a list which ranks Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing profits over the last three years. The firm’s inclusion in The Sunday Times list is considered highly prestigious, with previous top ranked companies in the list including some of the UK’s biggest brands and retailers. Particular recognition has been given to the important contribution that companies on the list have made to the UK and international markets during the pandemic. Direct Healthcare Group’s six brands produce equipment and devices to aid patient mobility, such as pressure-relieving mattresses, cushions and lifting aids.
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NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE
New Medequip Connect appointment
Enable Access ramps up accessibility Enable Access’ RampCentre has released its new Butterfly Ramp, a threshold bridge solution for access to properties. The automatically adjustable ramp can provide safe access over obstacles like the thresholds to buildings. It is patent-pending and available in two sizes, covering thresholds of up to six inches high. In addition, the allweather anti-slip surface folds inside when carrying for extra safety and the ramp comes with integral comfort carrying handles. Neil Smith, Key Account Manager at Enable Access, told THIIS: “We’re so excited about this as a brand new product innovation because it is so easy. “It simply adjusts to bridge over all types of thresholds, even where the drop is different each side, without any setting up or adjustment needed from the user, and is suitable for almost any mobility device.” Visit www.enable-access.com/the-butterfly-ramp/ to view the ramp in action.
Riding high with the Edge 3 Stretto Quantum Rehab has said that it has received an excellent response from customers to its new Edge 3 Stretto powerchair, which is based on the Edge 3 it launched in 2018. The manufacturer claims that its latest model, which is available in 17 colour options, is the perfect indooroutdoor chair as it features an extra narrow total width for manoeuvrability with Smooth Ride Suspension (SRS) and captain’s seating, for a comfortable and stable ride. Kevin Atkins, Senior Quantum Sales Manager, told THIIS: “The Edge 3 Stretto has quickly become one of the most well received powerchairs for Quantum Rehab. It is without doubt one of the most stable narrow base powerchairs on the market today. “With 62Ah batteries, and SRS suspension, it is fast becoming the ‘go to’ chair for many of our customers. The addition of the captain’s seat brings another level to the extensive seating options on the Edge 3 Stretto.”
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Stephen McKee has been appointed as Head of Business Development at Medequip Connect, the technology-enabled care (TEC) arm of community equipment services specialist Medequip. Bringing added experience to the company’s established management team, Stephen’s new role will combine marketing, bid management and sales as Medequip Connect continues to expand within the fast-developing TEC sector. After some years working in the logistics industry with Kuehne+Nagel and Unipart, Medequip Connect is currently expanding its responder services into different area of the UK, serving a growing market including local authorities, NHS, housing associations and sheltered accommodation, establishing a blueprint for the future.
New simplified insurance sales process Fish Insurance is swapping its previous appointed representative (AR) business model for a new method of selling insurance for its mobility retailer partners. The new system, Fish said, will still allow retailers to offer insurance to their customers but will minimise the time spent administering the policies. It emphasised that the roles and responsibilities of an appointed representative have grown since the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD) was introduced in 2018. These included completing extensive training, tests and annual checks, as well as complying with a strict code of conduct. Fish hopes that its alternative multi-channel sales process will enable retailers to refer their customers for insurance, without the need to comply with the longer list of requirements ARs must undertake. Retailers wanting to take advantage of the more simplified sale process that Fish are offering can become an Introducer Appointed Representative (IAR) and they will receive banners and in-store collateral to promote the new policies. Find out more by emailing John.Traynor@ fishinsurance.co.uk or call 07867467775.
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Call:01460 01460258120 258120 Call: Email:firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Email:
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Wondering which mobility accessories and power add-ons are grabbing mobility companies’ attention? Each month, retailers in the mobility industry highlight one product that has stood out for them and why…
We’re giving you more of what you value with our NEW Partner Programme We want and value your feedback when it comes to choosing a stairlift partner. Our new Partner Programme is giving you more of what’s important to YOU. As a partner you will benefit from:
A collaborative partnership #onefamily We listen to and act on your feedback and support your growth ambitions.
From product field trials, commercial training and regular communications to dedicated account management, marketing support and technical support we’re providing all the tools you need to grow your stairlift business with us. At Handicare, we don’t just supply stairlifts, we make everyday life easier, together. If you’d like to become a Handicare Partner, get in touch and secure your place in our growing network.
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Retailer’s Choice: Empulse F55 power add-on from Sunrise Medical
Retailer’s Choice: Splash Wet Weather Wear range from Able2 “My choice for accessories has to be not just one accessory but the full range of Splash Wet Weather Wear and accessories from Able2. “The range is large and has items including bags, waterproof macs, storage covers, ponchos, seat covers and capes. There are items to keep the user warm and dry and the scooter dry too. Such a fantastic range of accessories are sometimes overlooked but they are great as add-on sales when you sell a mobility scooter or even as a freebie to enhance the sale. “The storage covers come in two types of fabrics. The lightweight waterproof cover fits most three- and fourwheel scooters. It comes in two sizes and has an elasticated bottom and sealed seams. They are ideal if the scooter is stored outside. The heavy-duty durable cover is in navy and has adjusting straps which pull tight for a snug fit. These come in three sizes. “Covers for the user to wear come in sleeved, unsleeved, lined and unlined variations. There is something suitable for everyone. The range of bags fit most scooters and come in small, large, and extra large sizes – some with crutch holders and also some in hi vis, which are great for added visibility if the user is riding the scooter at night. You can also get your company name embroidered on the back of the bags to help advertise your company.” www.peoplefirstmobility.co.uk
Karen Sheppard Managing Director of People First Mobility
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“It’s great to see that manufacturers have still managed to innovate and launch products during the pandemic. One that has generated a lot of interest is the Empulse F55 by Sunrise Medical. “These powered add-ons are not only really helpful to reduce repetitive strain injury in the shoulders, but a lot of fun too. Most handbikes on the market often come with compromises or are only built for certain chairs. They often come with that high price tag too. Well, the Empulse F55 looks to have overcome these compromises. “It has a compact design, which doesn’t take up too much space. It’s lightweight, which makes it easily transportable. The improved traction on the front wheel gives the user more confidence. The unit can also be mounted on pretty much any wheelchair. “The attractive retail price also makes it most accessible to more uses than ever before. “The Empulse F55 was built for everybody: to be used every day and to be used anywhere. This is why we have chosen the Empluse F55 to be our Retailers’ Choice of the Month.” www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk Darren Macey Business Development Manager of Lifestyle and Mobility
We took our
BEST SELLING SCOOTER of 2018, 2019, 2020, made some excellent upgrades and now offer a premium model… …The AutoFold Elite!!
NEW Front and rear suspension
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New to the Drive DeVilbiss Healthcare range, the AutoFold Elite includes several new features to enhance the riders experience.
Remote control Operation Folds or unfolds easily within 15 seconds
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email@example.com www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk Information current as of 03_21
Retailer’s Choice: Todo Drive by R-Healthcare “We are always looking for new products that can enhance our product range and offer new life-changing solutions for our clients. The Todo Drive by R-Healthcare certainly does this. “The Todo is currently one of the lightest powered add-ons on the market weighing only 5kg, which enables the end-user to transform their existing wheelchair into to a portable power chair. This is ideal for users who still want the freedom to propel themselves but also have the option of powered control when required. “The Todo Drive provides freedom of mobility by an easy mounting system which is composed of motor, controller, main unit, and battery. A 5mm hex key is the only necessary tool for you to install it. Furthermore, it simply switches from manual to power modes by pulling two simple levers. “The feedback we have received has been excellent from young and older clients and the Todo Drive has been issued in a range of environments including schools, colleges and home environments. It will also be perfect for office environments once life begins to return to normal. “We are looking forward to seeing the release of the new TODO-I, which is the TODO Drive all-in-one package with adjustable chair and TODO combo.” www.pearcebrosmobility.co.uk
Billy Finnie Operations Manager of Mobility Scotland
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Retailer’s Choice: Powered Lumbar Support from Sherborne Upholstery
Jim Mabbutt Senior Mobility Consultant of Pearce Bros Mobility
“Sherborne Upholstery has made a significant breakthrough recently by introducing a fantastic power add-on feature to its rise and recline domestic chairs. “The powered lumber support feature was introduced back in 2019 and has been so well received by customers that nearly every Sherborne rise and recline chair we sold was sold with an added powered lumber feature. “We are not surprised, as it’s a brilliantly designed mechanism which will help boost sales within the domestic seating range. “Sherborne has cleverly concealed and integrated this additional motor within the internal structure of the chair, which ensures it does not detract aesthetically. It has also added two dedicated buttons on the handset to give the user complete control on how taught they require the lumber cushion. “Sherborne offers this feature now on all of its rise and recline chairs, which works well within the showroom environment. It also enables the retailer to be thorough in the needs analysis process, offering a specific feature that focuses on a part of the body many of our customer have issues with. “We can really impress the customer with this value-adding feature, which has never really made the breakthrough until now.” www.mobilityscotland.co.uk
Retailer’s Choice: Wheelchair Powerpack Duo from TGA Mobility “Here at TPG DisableAids, when asked to name our favourite power add-on, the decision was split between the e-motion M25 power wheels from Invacare for a manual wheelchair and the TGA Wheelchair Powerpack power assistance device to benefit the carer. “On balance, our most popular power add-on is the TGA Wheelchair Alastair Gibbs Powerpack. This comes in a variety Managing of capacities to suit the size of the Director of TPG user and the terrain over which they DisableAids wish to travel – single wheel or double wheel, standard or heavy duty. “The one thing they have in common is the build quality. There is no doubt that there are other comparable products on the market, sometimes for less money, but the high quality and adaptability make this our first choice.” www.tpg-disableaids.co.uk
Retailer’s Choice: Trilift by Trilift UK “Moving mobility scooters or power chairs around by car was a constant problem for many of our customers, until we introduced them to Trilift – a unique and innovative breakthrough in transportation that enables the user to convey their scooter or chair with minimum effort. Elaine Ferguson “Trilift attaches to a vehicle’s Mobility towbar and is wired directly Services to its battery. It engages with Manager of a coupling bracket that is Fortuna Mobility permanently fixed to the scooter or chair, which, by the flick of a switch, is then raised and locked firmly in place on the rear of a vehicle. “The loading process is straightforward and stressfree, while the scooter or chair remains secure during the journey. When the user returns home, they simply unbolt the Trilift and remove it from their car. “The small size and light weight of the Trilift means it’s compatible with most vehicles currently available in the UK, without affecting their safe and legal operation. And whether the customer has the smallest or largest scooter or chair, there’s a Trilift to suit them. “Fast becoming known as the ‘next generation’ in mobility transportation, Trilift is providing mobility scooter and power chair users with greater freedom. I’m delighted that Fortuna Mobility has been chosen as a major distributor.” www.fortunamobility.com
“The TGA Duo Powerpack is very simple to use, providing assistance to carers when pushing the wheelchair user. The powerpack is very easy to fit and is compatible with most manual wheelchair models, with specific fitting kits and heavy-duty models available if required. “As well as a good item for sales, Lauren the powerpack also works well on Bromfield our hire fleet and is able to withstand Director of the demanding nature of a hire fleet Classic Mobility product! Aftersales is always an important factor and the back-up from TGA is good, with spare parts readily available. www.classicmobility.org.uk
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Retailer’s Choice: Deluxe Powerstroll Powerpack from Drive
Retailer’s Choice: e-motion M25 from Invacare “I like the e-motion M25 by Invacare because it provides that extra power assistance to achieve independence without over working muscles and joints. “It is a system that fits most manual wheelchairs using adaptors and with each wheel only weighing 7.8kg, it can be easily removed for transportation. “The wheels have sensors in the hand rims, which gives extra power for the effort exerted. This allows for the chair to be moved with less effort than otherwise would be required. The chair offers an impressive range of up to 25km and speed up to 8.5km/hr. “The chair can be operated via an ECS remote or via the E-Motion Mobility App which can be upgraded to offer extra features such as increasing the max speed from 6.5km/hr to 8.5km/hr, remote control of unoccupied chair, and cruise control. “A feature I particularly like is the roll-back delay. If you take your hand off the rims whilst going uphill, the chair will hold its position for five seconds to allow you to flex and reposition your hands. “If you are a wheelchair user, but looking for extra Lynne Jakeway support without going into a power chair, I would Branch Manager recommend trying the e-motion power assist.” at Snowdrop Independent Living www.snowdropindependentliving.co.uk
“The Deluxe Powerstroll Powerpack from Drive gives our customers a great option to improve their existing wheelchair, with this easyto-use add-on. “The Deluxe Powerstroll Powerpack can be fitted to most standard wheelchairs up to 20-inch seat, turning it into an easy-to-use electric wheelchair that can be controlled by a carer, friend or family member. It makes easy work out of steep roads, ramps, uneven surfaces and hills, taking the strain out of pushing a heavy wheelchair. “Its one-click docking station enables it to be fitted or removed easily and quickly. The powerpack provides a hand control and variable speed dial for the attendant, ensuring they can control the wheelchair easily. Portable for storage and transport the Deluxe Powerstroll Powerpack is an ideal add-on for wheelchairs, making pushing, reversing and manoeuvring a lot easier.” www.ableworld.co.uk Ceri Dixon Marketing Manager of Ableworld
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IT’S THE KICKSTART EVENT TO A BUSY SUMMER OF TRADING! COVID SECURE
The British Healthcare Trade Show is taking place on…
15 JUNE 2021
Weetwood Hall Estate and Conference Centre, Otley Road, Leeds, LS16 5PS
FREE TO ATTEND FOR ALL THE INDUSTRY Register for your tickets at www.britishhealthcaretradeshow.co.uk Seminars to help grow your business Reconnect with peers Discover new products and opportunities
In partnership with...
Who to see at the show... Motion Healthcare – Principal sponsor
Kickstarting the summer recovery On 15 June 2021, the British Healthcare Trade Show will take place, reconnecting retailers with leading manufacturers to discover new products and new opportunities in a relaxed, comfortable, COVIDsecure setting. It comes as the nation prepares for the lifting of lockdown restrictions, fuelled by the successful vaccine rollout. From 17 May 2021 onwards, conference centres and exhibition halls, including for the purposes of business events, will be allowed to resume. It comes ahead of what is predicted to be a tremendous bounce back summer for the industry, with shoppers keen to spend the money saved over lockdown to enjoy outdoor pursuits. For many mobility and access retailers, it will mark a turning point after a difficult winter, which saw high streets deserted, many stores closed, and consumers confined to their homes. To help fuel the recovery, the British Healthcare Trade Show will act as the launchpad for bringing trade buyers and sellers back together again. Taking place at the Weetwood Hall Estate and Conference Centre in Leeds
Cavendish Healthcare Scooterpac Handicare Karma Mobility Teal Patents Accora
on 15 June 2021, the show will provide the perfect platform to discover new products, reconnect with peers, and network with potential new partners. The free-to-attend show will also include seminars from leading experts in social media, pay-per-click advertising, public relations and more, providing tailored advice to help mobility retailers and installers grow their businesses. But to help ensure the industry has an event to call its own, it needs you. To join us on the 15 June 2021 and help reboot the sector, visit www. britishhealthcaretradeshow.co.uk and book your free ticket. Together, we can make this summer one to remember.
Pride Mobility Quantum Rehab FormAL Group MK Battery International British Healthcare Trades Association Promoting Independence Apex Medical Sumed International Easystart Batteries Limited stands available. To exhibit contact 07384 258 372 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To ensure the safety of delegates and exhibitors, the following measures will be in place: • Temperature check on arrival • Masks required • Alcohol hand gel at all entrances, exits and throughout the venue • A stringent and comprehensive cleaning regime throughout the day • All exhibitors will be provided packs of anti-bacterial wipes • A one-way system will be in place
Proudly sponsored by
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Billy Finnie, Operations Manager at Mobility Scotland
Mobility Scotland: Giving value to the customer In February 2021, Mobility Scotland was recognised for its outstanding levels of customer service in the Motability Scheme’s annual awards. Achieving ‘highly commended’ status in the ‘Powerchair and Scooter’ category, the recognition from this national scheme was all the more special because it was based on direct customer feedback from Motability Scheme customers.
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Mobility Scotland and Motability are a great strategic fit, says Billy Finnie, the firm’s operations manager. “Both organisations are based on a relationship-building model which has shared customer values that does not over-promise. The customer consistently receives exactly what it says on the tin and that’s ‘hassle-free mobility’. “If the customer is good enough
Mobility Scotland’s continued pursuit and refinement of its retail value proposition, centred around excellent customer service, has been the USP of this award-winning firm based in Kirkintilloch, in the northeast of central Glasgow. THIIS spoke to Billy Finnie, Operations Manager at Mobility Scotland, about the secrets of its success…
to place their mobility needs and trust in our and Motability’s hands, then we will respect that decision and endeavour to do our very best to ensure we deliver on each value with great product knowledge, good product choice and technical expertise that is coupled with a friendly, stimulating customer service experience that is all delivered with a big smile.”
Of course, the need to develop an above-average service to customers was always Billy’s priority since he started out in the mobility business, and it was something that he felt needed to be improved upon in Scotland at the time when he was first starting out. KNOWLEDGE BUILDING Billy says that the catalyst for Mobility Scotland goes way back to the early nineties when he started an apprenticeship as an occupational therapy technician for Glasgow’s citywide Disability Resource Centre. It was here that he spent “three fantastic years” fully immersed in the community equipment world. Growing up on a Glasgow housing estate, Billy always had an entrepreneurial spirit and the desire to set up his own business. He knew that he needed experience in the world of business development and sales, though, and he spent nearly 15 years working for a blue-chip organisation honing his sales and management skills. Billy reflects: “In the early nineties, the mobility industry was somewhat overlooked in Scotland and generally delivering average service. I felt, with my previous knowledge, I could deploy my now-developed sales and marketing skills, along with my previous knowledge of the industry, and create a truly value-adding operation.” So, after months spent doing intensive product re-training and
research, Billy started on his journey with Mobility Scotland. Investments were set up and staff were sought, he says, as he set about growing a business based on “great products, great customer service and great aftersales care.” It all came from a belief, he says, to “improve on the what the incumbents were doing at the time and with aspirations to become true champions of the mobility product and service provision across Glasgow.” As Operations Director, Billy remains to this day directly responsible for all sales, marketing strategy, customer service, product range and service delivery and policy. COPING WITH A PANDEMIC The past year for Mobility Scotland has certainly been eventful. The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business was “massive”, says Billy. “Never did any of us think it would go so deep, so quickly. Our retail division ground to a halt overnight. Our revenue was hammered over the four months from March 2020. However, as we emerged from the first lockdown, we saw customers’ buying motivations change and attitudes towards buying our products became more assertive.” To Billy, it seemed that the pandemic was resulting in people becoming more decisive and assertive about their independence and mobility. He noticed that key equipment to help with this, such as
Demonstrating the adjustable beds with customers
“In the early nineties, the mobility industry was somewhat overlooked in Scotland” BILLY FINNIE
riser recliner chairs, profiling beds, through ceiling lifts, stairlifts and so on, were aiding this, and the products which were doing particularly well. This has been the prevailing objective for many people, comments Billy. “It’s to make the home comfortable, accessible, safe and enjoyable, and to cut down any risk of slips, trips and falls, and potential hospitalizations. That sheer will to remain independent at home and stay out of a care home has been driving buying trends.” Billy and the team saw some spectacular sales in the summer and autumn, he says, but this quickly tapered off again in the run-up to Christmas and the next big lockdown. “It was like Groundhog Day, going from a vibrant bustling business to the painstakingly slow uncertainty of another lockdown.” At the time of going to press, Billy remarks that his team of staff are literally just about to push the retail shutters up again and start to trade its way out of another very difficult period, which reduced sales in some areas by up 70 per cent. He says: “It will be interesting to see people’s reactions, hopefully people will start venturing back on to the high streets and retail parks.” MOTABILITY PARTNERSHIP After experiencing such a difficult 2020, the award from the Motability Scheme came at a good time. Being part of Motability Scheme has brought Mobility Scotland many benefits as a business, not least an additional and steady revenue stream all-year-round. These benefits, Billy says, have included creative marketing and promotional support, credibility through brand association, and the opportunity of word of mouth and ongoing customer referral business.
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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT Billy adds: “And the best practices which we have learned so much from over the years, Motability do it really well. Their management team, systems and people are impressive.” Motability is not without its frustrations though, says Billy, particularly where difficult customers with unrealistic demands are concerned. “But in general, if you are managing customer expectations, ensuring that they’re being well supported, then the scheme works very well for both customer and dealer.” Mobility Scotland has proved its ability to excel in offering great customer service and it all comes down to the firm’s ‘value proposition’, explains Billy. “Every member of the team knows exactly what it entails. There are 20 key actions which we can offer our customers in order for them to feel respected, valued and listened to. We ensure we work to agreed service level agreements, which gives continuity. It’s a relationship cycle that keeps the customer happy and delivers a repeat share of wallet business to Mobility Scotland.” Perhaps the most impactful example of this, Billy says, was an initiative Mobility Scotland set up in January this year. “We knew many of our customers’ scooters and powerchairs would have been under-used because of lockdown, with some not being used for almost a year, so we identified all vulnerable customers who lived alone (Motability and private) and gave them a call to remind them they should be checking their vehicles, ensuring batteries were being topped up with charge regularly and tyres etc. are in good shape.” Some customers, Billy comments, could not do this for themselves so the firm offered them a free health check service so that there was no surprises and panic when the lockdown eased. “And crucially, if they needed their vehicle in order to go for their COVID vaccinations, all would be good.” Billy recalls that they did 19 physical checks and over 100 phone calls. “It may not seem a lot but it was a nice touch and probably ensured
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Staff member Lorna shows off some colour swatches
at least a few customers made their COVID vaccination appointment without too much drama.” REBOOTING RETAIL Over the past few years, the firm has set about restructuring its product range, working with fewer suppliers and the best products. Last year, Mobility Scotland set itself the tasks of rebooting its retail division further. Explaining how he did this, Billy commented: “We rationalised our product range even further, with just about all our daily living aids (ADL) and footwear moving out of the showroom and into a mail order/ signposting process. Our investment in our new appointment system is working so well it will continue into 2021. “Our key range of products spans only five categories now and is more technically led but there is still plenty of depth, choice, and many options within that for our customers.” The pandemic has led to many retailers embracing ecommerce but Billy does not see Mobility Scotland going down this route. That’s not to say the business hasn’t been looking at ways to improve its online offering. “We totally understand the consumer journey generally begins online and that is why we have invested heavily in our website redevelopment and SEO strategies. Our social channels have also become very prominent and important to our
customers and business. “We will continue to use the internet as a lead generator but we aim to engage with the customer at the earliest opportunity to begin the buying process. Our model is prospect-driven in terms of numbers – we generate leads from so many platforms – but it is about relationship building in terms of closing the sales. “This way, we can ensure the correct product is recommended and it protects our business, and customers are willing to pay for those additional service elements which, at the end of the day, guarantee healthy margins.” A CALL FOR REGULATION The mobility sector has its own set of challenges and Billy sees this as perhaps the major challenge going forward. “That perpetual race-tothe-bottom we have seen within the industry over past 10 years or so has taken its toll. “The industry has been economically damaged and
“There are 20 key actions which we offer our customers in order for them to feel respected, valued and listened to” BILLY FINNIE
RETAILER SPOTLIGHT perceptually tainted. If we continued down this road, the gap between good needs analysis, appropriate recommendations, consumer safety and value for money, service and ongoing support will get bigger and even more damaging for the consumer.” Competitiveness, Billy believes, is generally good news for shoppers, but not at the risk of spending money on a product which could put them, and others, at risk and subsequently drains their wallets as they realise the pitfalls of the false economy purchase. It turns the shopping experience into something very disappointing and negative, says Billy. “There will be tens of thousands of examples of families across the country who have a story to tell about a poor online experience when purchasing a mobility product, with garages and sheds still cluttered with inappropriately sold products as they were refused a refund or return when they realised it was not the right solution. “This isn’t just bad for the consumer, it cannot be great for manufacturers to see their products being overhyped, undervalued and inappropriately sold, and of course it will be retailers who generally pick up the pieces and suffer downward margin pressure operating on razorthin margins.” A great example of how to overcome this way of working,
Mobility Scotland has partnered with Handicare to bring stairlift solutions to its customers
comments Billy, is through learning from organisations like Handicare, which wants to develop proper working relationships with their suppliers and dealers. Says Billy: “Handicare is promoting a mutually beneficial collaborative approach through its Trusted Partner Programme, working hand-in-glove to protect its products, the consumers and aid positive growth within the partner base.” Billy maintains, however, that both online and bricks-and-mortar businesses can operate side by side but this must be in healthier competition. He adds: “Regulation is probably the best way of repositioning the industry for modern 21st century
The staff at Mobility Scotland are highly experienced and dedicated
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demands, which demographically has changed with an increased ageing population being subjected to dated 20th century practices.” RECRUITMENT DRIVE This year, Mobility Scotland is looking at recruiting new people in line with the calibre of staff it currently has, says Billy. “We have great people who are stakeholders in our future success and our growth plans will need even more people of a similar calibre, which will be difficult. We’re not just looking for an employee, we’re looking for a collaborative business partner.” The business is also looking at developing as a true champion in the more complex technical sectors within the industry, says Billy. “Our technical division within Mobility Scotland is growing at great pace and we’re so proud of where we have taken our stairlift division in particular, from a standing start to a profit-generating division projecting circa half a million pounds by the end of this fiscal year. “The team and resources we have in place now are highly experienced, dedicated to the role and committed to the cause. This growth will rapidly continue as we aim to recruit more fantastic people with an engineering and sales background within the stairlift and through-ceiling lift world.” www.mobilityscotlandltd.co.uk
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Trade talk Q&A with Cillian Brugha, Managing Director of Easystart, the UK and Ireland supplier of Haze Batteries CONGRATULATIONS ON EASYSTART REACHING ITS 25YEAR ANNIVERSARY! “Thank you for the best wishes. It’s hard to plan any kind of celebration at the moment but all being well in the next few months we can put some plans in place. What is great is that
The Easystart headquarters in Corby
we’ve had a number of employees with us for 20 plus years of the 25 so that’s testament to both the type of business Easystart is but also the knowledge base our customers have to call upon when required.” IN WHAT WAYS HAS EASYSTART EVOLVED SINCE ITS INCEPTION? “Easystart has evolved hugely since its inception. In 1996, Trevor ran the business out of a small garage unit on the outskirts of Stamford, Lincolnshire with just a small stock holding of car batteries and doing the deliveries himself as well as selling to new customers. “Today, Easystart operates from a 20,000 square foot warehouse in Corby, Northamptonshire, with 12 members of staff and selling into over 12 different battery markets from automotive to mobility as well as telecoms and renewable energy. “A major achievement has been the longevity and ability to compete with
Let the Powerpack do the pushing Incredibly easy to fit and simple to remove Designed and made in the UK Range of up to 10 miles
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For the past 15 years, Easystart has been the sole supplier of Haze Batteries, a manufacturer of both AGM and 100 per cent gel batteries. The family firm employs a team of sales and technical support staff and it offers a delivery service covering the whole of the UK and Ireland. It is also reaching a significant milestone this year, as it celebrates its 25-year anniversary. THIIS caught up with Managing Director Cillian Brugha, who reflects on the firm’s success and its plans going forward…
multi-million pound global business in a very competitive industry. Easystart has battled through the economic downturn of the late 2000’s and also the last 12 months of the pandemic, which has seen most of the country in lockdown. “The greatest achievement however must be the staff, their commitment and own personal longevity within the company. Many of the current employees have been with the business for over 10 years and half of the staff are family members so there is a huge amount of loyalty to the company and therefore the customers success.” WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES HAZE SUCH A TRUSTED BRAND FOR MOBILITY SCOOTERS/ POWERCHAIRS? “The Haze brand is synonymous with quality and reliability. In an industry such as mobility where the batteries are such an essential item, a quality
product you can trust is imperative. “I would also like to think that people associate Haze with the high levels of customer service we offer. Haze batteries are also fitted as original equipment to thousands of scooters and powerchairs manufactured each year.” WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO MOBILITY RETAILERS TO PASS ON TO THEIR CUSTOMERS ABOUT BATTERY CARE AND DISPOSAL? “The number one tip for battery care and to achieve the maximum life from a battery is ‘always recharge your battery after every use’. Over 95 per cent of all batteries that are returned to Easystart require a recharge and nothing more. “The other tip is to regularly check the battery terminals – as scooters and powerchairs are regularly used on uneven surfaces they vibrate and the terminals can shake loose over time. If there is a loose connection, this will cause the battery to work harder which will put unnecessary strain on it’s output and cause it to fail sooner.” IN WHAT WAYS HAS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECTED BUSINESS OVER THE PAST YEAR? “Easystart has fortunately been able to remain open throughout the pandemic. As a business supplying automotive, agricultural, medical and emergency power batteries, the product has been a necessary requirement over the past 12 months. “Unfortunately, many of our customers have been forced to close and therefore the year hasn’t been as busy as we’d have liked it to be but the product is one which many people rely upon and therefore we’ve been very fortunate. The hope for 2021
Haze manufactures AGM and gel batteries for mobility powerchairs and scooters
and beyond is that our customer base returns to normal and Easystart is in a position to get people back up and running with the stock they require to service their business needs.” HAS EASYSTART EXPERIENCED ANY SHIPPING DELAYS WITH THE IMPORTING OF ITS PRODUCTS? “Easystart not only imports products from Europe and Asia but also exports a lot of product back in to Europe. Brexit obviously came at a time when the pandemic was at its peak in UK and also coincided with Christmas, which is always a busy time for imports and exports. “Easystart has experienced its fair share of transport-related issues but these are issues being faced by industries across the country and not just in batteries. Huge shortages and significant delays are something everyone is becoming used to.
Easystart’s business model is one that means a large amount of stock is held at our head-office in Corby, therefore customers continue to be supported. Also, as a family business, Easystart will do whatever it takes to meet its customers needs.” WHAT DOES THE REST OF 2021 HOLD FOR YOUR COMPANY? “2021 is hopefully going to be a busier and more successful year for Easystart. Thankfully, the business has come through the worst 12 months most people can remember, which hopefully stands it in good stead going forward. “As the 25th anniversary year, Easystart is hoping to announce some exciting new partnerships and celebrate accordingly throughout the year.” www.easystartbatteries.co.uk
Call to find out more
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or email firstname.lastname@example.org www.tgamobility.co.uk QUOTE: THS20
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The Helping Hand Company’s headquarters in Ledbury
Helping Hand Pressure Care: Hitting the right spot Helping Hand Pressure Care was formed as its own division under the Helping Hand Company umbrella in 1996. At the time, The Helping Hand Company was well-known within the mobility industry for supplying daily living aids, but in just four years, and as the quality of its products improved and became more costeffective, the firm became a strong supplier in the industry across Wheelchair Services, community stores and specialist retail both in the UK and Europe.
Helping Hand Pressure Care manufactures and supplies pressure care solutions from its base in Ledbury, Herefordshire, where it produces cushions in all sizes and shapes, ranging from paediatric through to bariatric. Over the past 25 years, the firm has become an established player within the pressure care industry. THIIS caught up with Mitch Preedy, Manager of Helping Hand Pressure Care, to discuss the company’s growth and its plans for 2020.
Mitch Preedy, Manager of HH Pressure Care
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An Equazone cushion – one of the firm’s most popular products – is finished off in the factory
Mitch Preedy, Manager of Helping Hand Pressure Care, began working at The Helping Hand Company 15 years ago, where his role involved providing office support for two area sales managers within the Reablement
Social influencer Jennie Berry uses the Airzone cushion and praises its microclimate regulation
Division, as it was then known. It was Mitch’s first taste of the mobility industry, and he was the contact for mobility retailers throughout the UK, dealing with aids for daily living (ADL). Mitch recalls: “Within 18 months I was offered the role of Area Sales Manager for Pressure Care, which at the time seemed a bit of a black art and specialist area – which it clearly is – and every day something new is learnt. “Most of my customers were Wheelchair Services, which required carrying out assessments with professionals and clinicians daily so this is where my knowledge and passion grew massively.” Then, nearly three years ago, Mitch was promoted to run the Pressure Care Division, where he has really found his niche. “As much as I miss my customers and client contact, it’s great now that I have a really strong team. I can make decisions and changes alongside our Managing Director, R&D and Production to make a real difference.”
BESTSELLING PRODUCTS Helping Hand Pressure Care specialises in pressure reducing products, from at-risk all the way up to the highest risk, in any size and in any shape to support postural needs from paediatric to bariatric. Mitch says that, without a doubt, its Equazone product has been the biggest mover over the last 12 months. “It is an immediate solution that’s cost-effective, really simple to set up and offers very high pressure reduction. The response across so many community contracts and dealers especially has been really encouraging.”
“The Indicator Cushion can assist with the issuing of the correct cushion for the user every single time” MITCH PREEDY
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SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT Another bestseller is the Airzone air cushion, which has been available for several years. Mitch explains: “The Airzone recently went under testing to increase its weight limit, to work in conjunction with an air sheet top layer and temperature regulation cover as standard to reduce moisture and heat, which is the common reason for skin breakdown. “The Airzone has also been tested for a higher weight – a 40-stone limit to enter the bariatric market – which, alongside the air sheet and Coolover cover, reduces moisture and heat, which is the most common reason for skin breakdown.” One of the firm’s biggest achievements is that it was one of the first companies worldwide to integrate technology within its cushions. Mitch explains how it works: “It incorporates IQ sensing, which is a sensor that can be added to a cushion to encourage regular moment from users. As we know, a user that
moves more is less vulnerable to skin breakdown. “More recently, which our retailers seem to really have taken on board, is the use of the Indicator Cushion, which can assist with the issuing of the correct cushion for the user every single time.” CUSHIONING THE BLOWS With the challenges of a national pandemic, it has certainly been a mad year, says Mitch, but the firm seems to have come out of it really well. “The firm has won more business and new contracts in the last 12 months than it has in the last eight years. The Equazone has been a key driver behind this, as well as the colour-coded range. “We have also seen a big increase in bariatric cushions, like the Airzone, so overall we have come out of 2020 very strong.” This being said, there is no doubt that the pandemic has forced the firm to be more adaptive.
In a room surrounded with foam, staff member Kevin gets to work creating a bespoke cushion
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“As much as I miss my customers and client contact, it’s great now that I have a really strong team” MITCH PREEDY
Says Mitch: “Unfortunately for my area sales managers, their contact with customers was heavily restricted, which meant they were furloughed for a period of time. Luckily, they were all really understanding and it seemed to make them that much hungrier over the last year. “Working from home was introduced for the office staff back in March 2020, which was something I wasn’t a fan of personally! I was desperate to work in the office, however, some members of the team are performing better than ever working from home so although it was a challenge, the introduction
SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT of flexible working has been a huge positive.” Throughout the organisation, from administration up to area sales managers on the road, staff have had to become more adaptive in the way they reach its customers. As Mitch explains, platforms like Teams and Zooms have helped the firm overcome some of the hurdles that the last year presented to them. “The foam shortage due to the TDI issue [with supplies of one of its main ingredients running low] and the problems at the ports with raw materials could have really hit us hard but due to a lot of good planning and sourcing from our production team, we didn’t just meet our customer needs, we managed to pick up a large amount of new business from services who couldn’t source their usual products.” It helps that as a British manufacturer, Helping Hand Pressure Care is in quite a strong position when there have been shipping delays, whereas other companies may be waiting for products or parts to be delivered to meet customers’ needs. Mitch adds: “Obviously we experience some hiccups along the way but we have managed to source all materials and components needed to manufacture our products here in Ledbury and meet our customers’ needs and new customers coming on board.”
The Equazone cushion is ideal for those who are sitting for longer periods
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The Helping Hand Pressure Care team, which prides itself on its excellent customer service
OPPORTUNITIES AHEAD This year, Mitch says that the firm is looking forward to opening up to its customers again, continuing its high standards of customer service, and of course, growing its product ranges. “The Equazone family will be growing and our next steps into the intelligent/interactive cushions aren’t far away along with a few indepth studies being carried out on measured outcomes. “We’re also actively seeking specialist retailers that want to take onboard our pressure care range.” He adds: “The two routes that our dealers seem to take on board pretty quickly are firstly the Equazone, as they can now offer a very high risk air cushion at a great price but no hassle in set ups. “The second is the use of Indicator Cushion against our existing colour coded range. It was kindly awarded the ‘Retailers’ Choice’ of the month by Alastair Gibbs at TPG DisableAids in THIIS Magazine a few months ago.” Mitch says that any retailers with teams on the road, or a showroom set up, can have an Indicator Cushion for free so that they can identify the correct cushion for the user within minutes. He adds: “A huge amount of time and research has gone into developing the Indicator Cushion
so we can confirm it performs effectively, identifying the user’s most prominent/bony area and recommending the most relevant cushion. “It gives that extra bit of confidence and expertise within the sales and issuing process for pressure cushions.” For the rest of this year, the firm is getting the ball rolling with some exciting new product launches. “We’ve got at least two new products currently in R&D; new technologies to take pressure care to a whole new level – providing solutions and support in avoiding skin breakdown and not just be solely reliant on pressure cushions. “Our key focus in the market is to continue to maintain our current contracts but look for opportunities of growth in the specialist retail market.” www.hhpressurecare.co.uk
“We’re actively seeking specialist retailers that want to take onboard our pressure care range” MITCH PREEDY
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Retailer Trade Thoughts Do mobility products have a place online? The sale of mobility products online has become a bone of contention in the industry, with opinions often split regarding whether it is right to let customers buy these products virtually. Ecommerce can help to open up the market, but it also raises concerns over safety and frustrations over consumers receiving assessments, only to seek out lower prices online. THIIS asks leaders from the mobility retail and supply sectors about their views on this topic...
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Living aids? Yes. Mobility scooters? Not without some kind of assessments or training. “The world of ecommerce has changed in the last year during COVID and lockdowns, with more people going online to buy. “Online shopping may still see an increase for a while, however, more people may also like to venture out to the stores as a change. We will have to wait and see how customers choose to shop over the next few months. “We are currently building an online store for daily living aids and consumables. The sale of mobility scooters online is still something we are discussing and seeing how to sell these online with assessments, questionnaires or videos as a guide before a purchase can be made. “Online box shifters of scooters with no request for any of the user details or any instructions on usage contributes to accidents and fatalities each year. Some people do come in store and test them, get assessed and then buy online so we are looking at ways to encourage the customer to buy from us. “One idea for online sales of scooters is possibly for online dealers to either take out the products and do an assessment or perhaps for the suppliers to get involved. They could take leads from online sellers, give them a referral fee and go to the customer, giving the assessments needed.
Increasingly, the sale of mobility products online has been a bone of contention in the industry. Opinions are often split regarding whether it is right to let customers buy these products virtually. “On one hand, the world of ecommerce opens up the market, giving consumers freedom to seek out lower prices, and discover products that may not be available locally. “On the other, safety concerns regarding the purchase of medical devices without the correct assessment; a growing race-to-the-bottom scenario; and frustrations over consumers receiving assessments, only to seek out lower prices online are common. “Without doubt, all businesses require an online presence, but not necessarily as a sales device, more of a shop window through which potential customers can look. They can gain the knowledge of what is available and they can make comparisons of specification and performance. They can perhaps get a feel for the expected cost to acquire such items. But they should only be able to buy non-prescriptive, nonassessed small aids from that shop. “For all other assessed products, a face-to-face assessment of their needs, capabilities and expectations should take place. This does not necessarily mean they have to visit a retail premises, that assessment could be carried out at a home visit by a trained and competent assessor. “The risk to the end-user of incorrect specification can be severe and create lifelong issues. The further risk to the wider public is equally important due to the nature and size of some mobility products that can be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands.
Managing Director of People First Mobility
Managing Director of TPG DisableAids
Most of us appreciate the benefits of online purchasing. It has introduced a new dimension to the way we shop and opened up hitherto difficult to access markets; freedom and choice is the mantra of the western world. “However, some products, such as complex mobility and motorised products, unequivocally do not fit within an online model. These high value, high impact mobility products firmly sit in the speciality categories and can only make the difference people think they will if there is a greater degree of best practice, suitability testing and needs analysis. In other words, it needs industry regulation. “Competition in every industry is, of course, healthy, but not at the risk of consumer safety and poor value for money, or the industry being dragged deeper into that negatively perceived world where public resentment has grown over the last decade because of ill-advised product purchases. These might be products which are lying unused in garages and sheds across the country or inadequately fitted stairlifts that pose a daily hazard, or they could be as a result of poor customer service and support, or an ambiguous returns policy. “Regulation will strike at the heart of these issues, ensuring protection and benefit for the consumer and businesses whilst developing positive, economic growth. There is room for both models but on a level playing field with relative operational costs, which will naturally level out retail pricing and higher industry standards, all bound together through regulation.
Firstly, Recare does not supply e-commerce yet. Wheelchairs classify as medical devices by the MHRA. Clients’ needs must to be advised by a skilled professional for sizing of the product and to understand functionality maximising their quality of life and independence. To achieve this, selling entirely online isn’t possible. “For instance, there is a ‘start from’ pricing structure – products with configurations unique to a client’s specifications. When needs are complex, they often require multiple visits to assist, advise, adjust and replace parts where obligated under warranty. “Online information is confusing to the client due to the quantity of products, capability, functionality, and specifications for product ranges, and whether it is capable or best suited for them. There are everevolving products and technologies, and an extensive understanding of products is needed. This expertise cannot be replaced by online shopping. “Those vulnerable in society favour a personal approach sales, service and repair of their products, independence and access to increased mobility. They favour picking up the phone to specialists. “There is an active price war online. It is unsustainable longterm, discredits quality products and questions industry ethics. Sustainable growth is essential for business. Internet development should be careful and maintain integrity. “Turnover is vanity! Profit is sanity!
Ableworld have always been of the same opinion: that mobility products should be provided that are suitable for the recipient’s safe use and therefore many products shouldn’t be available to purchase over the internet. “As an ethical trader, we strongly believe that larger pieces of mobility equipment, such as scooters, wheelchairs, riser recliners and beds, should be assessed to ensure the customer can use the equipment safely and it will benefit them. “We understand the world is changing daily and the internet is more convenient for many people, however, as a responsible retailer, we would much prefer for our customers to talk to a member of staff about their requirements so we can offer them advice, not just deliver a box to their doorstep and have them struggle. “How do online retailers know that someone purchasing a mobility scooter online doesn’t have sight problems? What if that person was to use their scooter and injure themselves or someone else? “Some smaller items, we agree can be purchased online if they do not need an assessment so we offer the option on our website, if this is more convenient for our customers.
Operations Manager of Mobility Scotland
Managing Director of Recare
Marketing Manager for Ableworld
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Supplier Trade Thoughts Have you got a trade thought that you would like industry leaders to discuss? Contact Liane McIvor at email@example.com to share your topic.
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For products which require customisation of the home environment or which need to be configured for the use of an individual, it is imperative this is done using face-to-face consultation. “Stiltz Homelifts’ website has been optimised to ensure greatest visibility against our chosen search terms and to encourage visitor engagement. We continue to seek effective and measurable digital solutions to bring our products to new audiences. “The internet as a ‘shop window’ is great for the mobility or home accessibility customer when it enables them to research products and suppliers and to choose equipment that fits with their needs. The customer can also, at this point, decide whether to engage with the manufacturer directly or with a local retail representative. “Alongside this, we recognise the customer needs to be aware that the purchasing of a homelift is a bespoke consideration and one or more home visits by a consultant will be needed for the purposes of costing as well as for determining end-user need. “When dealing with vulnerable customers, the imperative has to be safety first and this means in-home assessments. “Notwithstanding professional installation, considerations such as providing usage instructions to the customer once their product has been installed or explaining of servicing, warranties and maintenance contracts, also need to be addressed. This process cannot be short-circuited by end-user-led online purchases. The risks are just far too great.
While buying products such as wheelchairs and scooters online may drive prices down, users can often be left high and dry when it comes to customer support with regards to servicing and repairs, which are so important as many rely on their product for their daily independence. “Without meeting face-to-face, it is impossible to conduct a full assessment to ascertain if the product is suitable for the user, their environment and if they can use it safely. “It can also have a negative effect on our industry. When we go out to visit a client, we undertake a full assessment, which involves ensuring it is the correct product and can be used safely. For powerchair users, the correct posture is vital and as part of the assessment, they are carefully measured to ensure they have the optimum postural support and comfort. “We also take the time to find out more about their daily routine such as attending school or their work environment. However, this can enable clients to potentially source the same product online at a reduced price as the supplier will not have incurred the overheads involved in carrying out such detailed assessments and there is often no service back up once the product has been delivered. “Of course, aids for daily living such as grab handles, walking sticks, jar openers etc. are ok to buy online but without a trial, the consumer will still not know if it will work for them until it arrives.
Sales Director – Trade of Stiltz
Director of Precision Rehab
During lockdown, Quest saw a big impact on equipment provision to vulnerable children and a lot of this was due to the healthcare system diverting resources to tackling COVID-19. “Quest decided midway through lockdown to do something it has never done before and that was to make Kaye Walkers, a widely used Class 1 medical device, available online for parents and carers to buy direct on a fast-track basis, at a lower cost due to no assessment being involved. “The premise is that assessment is not always required for the Kaye Walker as children move from one size to another. There is one key measurement needed and we suggest that a health care professional is part of the recommendation process. “The ability for parents to acquire these products online is important to enable equipment to reach parents in good time when the healthcare system is under duress – not just during pandemics but also when the regional foundations exhaust their own funding. “Remember that there is no national budget for children’s equipment and no legal requirement for the government to provide a walker, standing frame or sleep system. Enabling ‘selective’ online purchasing also alleviates cost to the NHS, especially when parents can afford to buy their own equipment. “Online purchasing also enables parents to have new equipment, as all too often they receive fourth, fifth or sixth hand equipment from community stores, which visually, and sometime functionallywise, is not at its best.”
Selling without an assessment structure, online or not, can lead to issues for retailers and consumers. Mobility products do have a place online to demonstrate and promote the expertise of great local retailers. The internet has grown to become an essential research tool for our demographic of customers who have become more confident and trusting of the internet during lockdown. “The brand awareness and engagement opportunities available online can enhance your showroom experience. Virtual guidance, video promotion and interactive tools can elevate your company and set you above competitors. “It’s not all about price! I believe online marketing should work in harmony with in-store support, using your website and social media channels as a ‘shop window’ to attract customers and drive traffic to a physical showroom for those essential assessments. “Online can facilitate an appointment system, virtual support and customer testimonials, whereas in-store benefits from facilities, product testing and a personal sales advice. “A post-lockdown landscape may see a new shopping experience that favours online for convenience but a national desire to support the local community and economy has also gained momentum, which should be capitalised. “Many of Electric Mobility’s authorised network of retailers have embraced change and proactively demonstrated throughout the pandemic that they can successfully blend the two and it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
Ecommerce certainly brings a whole array of benefits for suppliers and customers alike. For suppliers, they can often showcase a wider selection of products than they can typically do in a showroom environment. “It also gives the opportunity to meet a much wider audience than they would do with their local or regional showroom coverage. For customers, the potential ease of purchase and the likely cost-saving often associated with ecommerce makes this a very interesting proposition for them. “However, for anything that is not a straightforward daily living aid and has some form of complexity to it, there are many pitfalls and potential dangers to selling and purchasing via ecommerce. “More complex products should always involve an assessment of suitability for the customer and the environment they are using it in. There should also always be training given to the customer on how to safely use the product they have purchased. “Unfortunately, as pricing becomes the main feature of ecommerce, often complex products will be sold at vastly reduced prices which ultimately ends up with a customer unknowingly reducing the level of sales and after sales service levels they should expect from the supplier.
Managing Director of Quest 88
Marketing & Digital Executive for Electric Mobility Euro
Sales Manager (UK & Ireland) for DIETZ Power
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LET’S GET IT CLEAR
Seat to Eat We wear different footwear for different activities – football boots for playing football, ski boots for skiing, trainers for running, smart leather shoes for formal indoor events, slippers in the bedroom, flippers for scuba diving, etc. Along the same line of thinking, for those people who, in particular, have physical challenges arising from small size (including children), old age, diseases, or disorders, we should consider different seating arrangements for different activities. These different activities can range from relaxing to watch the television, through getting access to normal day-to-day activities, to working on a keyboard, to eating a meal, to access to toilet facilities, to transferring to bed for a good night’s sleep. THE NEED FOR ADJUSTABILITY If you place yourself into the optimal position for any one of these activities, you may well find that your head, shoulders, hands, pelvis, and feet end up in very different positions relative to each other for each activity. To assist those people with impaired movement, it is essential that the equipment with which they are provided allows, and ideally assists, their getting into the best posture for that one activity, and then change it for the next activity.
Dr Barend ter Haar has been involved in seating and mobility for over 30 years, including lecturing internationally and developing international seating and decontamination standards.
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For many of us we have different chairs for our office, for dining, for watching television, etc., but it is often not readily affordable/practical to supply a mobility-impaired person a different chair for each activity. Thus we should consider what can be done to make the equipment that is provided as adjustable as possible, to accommodate the needs of the different activities that that person wishes to perform. In this article we’ll be looking at what adjustments may be needed, and how they can be offered, with particular attention to seating for eating. SEATING FOR EATING The starting point is getting food to the mouth. Ideally we like to have our head over our plate or bowl so that any food that drops arrives back on the plate and not down our front. To achieve this, our feet are best placed vertically below our knees or further back. In many care homes, residents are brought to the table in their transfer manual wheelchairs. In this type of wheelchair the foot supports are often placed forward of the castors, pushing the feet
We have different postures to achieve different outcomes in life. Different activities require us to line up our feet, our legs, our pelvis, our torso, and our head in different respective positions. In this article, we look at what might be considered a good posture for eating and how our seating set-up can help or hinder us.
forward, and the occupant back into a spinal kyphotic position, with the head away from the table. Not ideal! Furthermore, the more the spinal curvature, the more the person needs to push their heads back into cervical extension to get their heads level to put their food into their mouths. For those who have been taught CPR, we are told to push the person’s head back to open the airways. This is the position that the head ends up at with the cervical extension when the head and neck position are compensating for the curvature of the spine. So a folding transit wheelchair is not suitable for an elderly person to use at the dining table. More on this later. For optimal swallowing and digestion, we want the trunk to be as straight and upright as possible. This position also helps with breathing and other physiological functions encompassed within the trunk. To achieve this, ideally the individual needs appropriately positioned supports to facilitate this posture1: a firm back support to resist the development of spinal lordosis, a pelvic positioning belt placed across the thighs to stop the pelvis slipping
forward, lateral trunk supports to help maintain a midline position, and, as needed, an anterior trunk support. A number of wheelchairs provide for tilting the seat back to help relaxation. From what we have outlined above, being able also to tilt the seat forward as well could facilitate getting the head over the plate and by negating the posterior pelvis tilt associated with spinal lordosis, could result in a straighter back (for this position, an anterior trunk support could be beneficial). Unfortunately few wheelchairs offer this facility. OUT OF A WHEELCHAIR So the next best option is to transfer the person to an appropriately shaped normal dining chair which will give sufficient posterior and lateral support, while allowing the feet to move back and the head forward. How to get the seated person to the table smoothly and without putting the carer at any risk? A great solution is the MillieMova – a simple device
Figure 1. Millie is able to move her grandfather towards and away from the dining room table with little effort.
that can be attached to a standard dining room chair that, when you put your foot on a lever at the back it, temporarily engages a set of wheels that allows the chair to be pushed into the table (Fig. 1). The chair settles back down on its feet when the lever is released, and then at the end of the meal the wheels can be re-engaged to roll the chair away from the table. Savings on back strain, and maintained dignity all round! For children, it is important that their seating is at the correct height for the table they are sitting at. Often this can vary from sitting at the normal table with adults, to sitting at lower height tables, especially in
Figure 3. Arm supports that are low enough that they can be pushed under the table top.
Figure 2. The Breezi chair with height adjustable seat plate and foot supports.
schools, etc. The next challenge is that as a child grows the distance needed for the seat’s position relative to the table top changes. ADJUSTABILITY To cope with this, here are seating systems derived from the original Scandinavian Tripp Trapp chair, where the seat panel can be moved up and down between different slots in the chair legs. The Breezi was the first of these, where the foot print was extended for greater stability, different widths offered, and various accessories made available to cover the needs of children with behavioural challenges and mild disabilities (Fig. 2). When choosing the height of the seat plate, consideration needs to be made for the space for the thighs under the table, and more importantly, the distance between the table top and the chin, to enable a good posture while eating. In addition there needs to be sufficient space for the forearms to be able to rest comfortably on the table and then raise the hands to mouth level. The positioning of any arm supports on the chair can become
important if they prevent the chair from being moved far enough forward under the table (Fig. 3) – solutions include removable or adjustable height arm supports, or shortened lengths so that they are more just elbow than full forearm supports. MORE COMPLEX NEEDS Where an individual, due to physical challenges arising from the likes of muscle weakness or poor motor control, is unable to feed themselves and need to be fed, it is essential to ensure that the head is placed into the optimum position – e.g. if pushed too far back this opens up the trachea and risks food entering airways rather than the digestive system, and thence choking. Too far back and this also impairs the swallow reflexes, which may be impaired already, anyway. These feeding challenges are often passed into the care of speech therapists. These professionals have found Stealth’s i2i head support system to be a good solution for helping the individual to get their head into the best position for eating and swallowing. (There is an excellent film demonstrating this, which is available on YouTube2.)
1. BS 8625:2019, Selection, placement and fixation of flexible postural support devices in seating – Specification 2. https://youtu.be/3ozdphoB4nk
‘Let’s Get it Clear’ by Dr Barend ter Haar One in a series of occasional résumés of aspects in the world of posture and mobility where there are common misconceptions, and myths to be addressed, to help promote better practice. Further items can be found at www.beshealthcare.net. If you are interested in receiving further information on the topic, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
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What the end of lockdown means for your mental health By Stuart Barrow As an OT, I’m well aware of the multiple elements that make up a happy and healthy life. And in normal circumstances, I spend a lot of time making sure that I’m working on each element – whether it’s ensuring a good work/ life balance, making sure I take care of myself, staying productive or spending enough leisure time on the things that I enjoy. Like most of us, I’ve found all of those things more challenging over the last 12 months, with the pandemic robbing us of our freedom and reducing the amount of control we have over our lives. But as lockdown starts to wind down and as life gets back to something approaching normality, I thought I’d spend a few minutes sharing four important things I believe we need to be prioritising to preserve and enhance our mental health and sense of wellbeing. WORK/LIFE BALANCE Being able to switch off and draw a dividing line between home and work is vital, but the past year has made it more difficult than ever to do that. Healthcare workers have worked long hours, under high levels of stress, and the demands of the job have often meant them struggling to switch off even when they are not working. As we come out of the other side of lockdown, returning to a sensible work/life balance will pay dividends for you, as well as the relationships you hold dear in your life.
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Throughout lockdown, many have found the lines between work and home have blurred and given rise to burnout
SELF-CARE ACTIVITIES Self-care is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. Washing your face, brushing your teeth, shaving, having a haircut, eating healthily and exercising are all things that can and have fallen by the wayside for millions over the last year. In normal times, all of this stuff would be done automatically, but the last year has been anything but normal. The pandemic’s impact on mental health has been severe and made it difficult for many of us to look after ourselves the way we know we deserve to be looked after. So how can we recover? As the saying goes, ‘What gets measured, gets improved’ – write all your selfcare activities out and rate where they are on a scale of one to 10.
Being honest with yourself here can give you a goal to aim for, and once you have the goal, you can put a plan in place to achieve it. GAPS IN PRODUCTIVITY Anyone else completed Netflix this year? Yep, thought so. Productivity’s gone right out of the window during the pandemic, whether it’s household chores or work-related output. And it’s no surprise – there’s nothing like being forced to stay indoors for months on end for curbing enthusiasm. One way to break out of any rut you might be in is to identify what you are doing productively and then understanding where the gaps are – these are the areas that have probably fallen by the wayside and need improvement.
MAKING TIME FOR LEISURE Leisure time is so important for our mental health, whether it’s a drink with a friend, heading to the cinema or reading the paper. Unfortunately, lots of us are out of the habit of it and are still spending too much time on the sofa. To ease your way back into life, I suggest allocating a time period every week that must be filled by leisure, but not the kind of leisure you could have accomplished during lockdown – this will help you get back to the experiences you’ve missed for so long. WHAT’S THE POINT? Make no mistake, we’ve lived through an earth-shattering time. And to pretend that it hasn’t had an impact on your mental health would be disingenuous – of course it has. But by being conscious of the effect it has had, you can ensure that you don’t continue in a rut that’s negative for your mental health, your
Making time to enjoy leisure activities away from the sofa plays a vital role in mental health
relationships and the other important aspects of your life. SO HOW TO BEGIN? Start by being conscious of how your behaviour has changed as a result of lockdown, and then make a plan for how to improve it, by listing your
Stuart Barrow of Promoting Independence is a member of the British Association of Occupational Therapists panel and a recognised contributor in the field of home adaptations. He also runs the popular Occupational Therapy Adaptations Conference
priorities for the next 90 days, and deliberately checking in each week to see how you’re progressing towards your goal. If you want to talk it through with anyone, or share your goals, just drop me an email at the following address: email@example.com.
The Jockey Club - Exeter Racecourse
Weetwood Hall Estate
Stradey Park Hotel & Spa
26 May 2021 th
17 June 2021 th
23rd June 2021
Hilton at the Ageas Bowl
The Hallmark Hotel - The Queen
Hilton Hotel, Drake Way
Hilton Hotel Gateshead
8 September 2021 th
15 September 2021 th
29 September 2021 th
6th October 2021
Mercure Maidstone Great Danes Hotel
Drayton Manor Theme Park
St. David’s Hotel
3 Novemebr 2021 rd
17 November 2021 th
10th December 2021
If you’d like to exhibit at an OTAC® event or to attend visit www.otac.org.uk and register today!
RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
Buyers’ guide to mobility accessories and power add-ons
Each month, discover key products from a different segment of the mobility market to consider offering to customers
Triride T-Rocks from Triride Combined with the best wheelchair set-up, the T-Rocks can handle off-road terrain with ease. It is fitted with a high torque motor for plenty of hill climbing capability. The T-Rocks boasts a 1500w motor and a 20-inch by four-inch fat wheel and is also available with an optional double battery system, offering ranges up to 80km of off-road performance. Its attachment to the wheelchair uses Triride patented clamps, providing a strong and stable connection to the wheelchair that is easy and simple to operate for the user. www.triride.uk
Torba Go and Torba Luxe scooter and wheelchair bags from Able2 Fitting most scooters and wheelchairs, the waterproof fabric of these bags keeps belongings protected. The bags are designed to marry style, practicality and safety. They come with a range of features, including foldaway pockets and an expanding base, large zip; easy grip handles and reflective piping. www.able2.uk
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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
Dog Trailer from Monarch Mobility Perfect for pet owners, this dog trailer has been specifically designed for mobility scooters. The trailer has an easy-to-attach and quick-release tow bar. The height of the trailer from floor to trailer top is 24 inches. The box is 12 inches tall, 17 inches wide and 25 inches in length – making it ideal for small dogs. www.monarchmobility.com
HZS12-14 AGM battery from Easystart Batteries HZS12-14 is a completely sealed, maintenance-free AGM battery that is manufactured by Haze. Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) is the most popular range in electric vehicle applications as they can withstand deep discharges caused by long periods of use. The Haze HZS12-14 offers an increased capacity of 14Ah in the same box size that most manufacturers achieve 12Ah. This extra capacity means that the battery is under far less strain when in use on a mobility scooter, ensuring the end-user will achieve greater distances. The battery suits a user who needs more power but has limited space on their scooter. It offers the customer a chance to upgrade their battery power without having to necessarily upgrade the vehicle. Perfect for an occasional user who travels a further distance, it is a mid-range battery option between standard AGM and gel. www.easystartbatteries.co.uk
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MK70 Capacity Tester from MK Battery International The MK70 Capacity Tester is a true discharge machine and can test both gel and AGM 12-volt batteries. The tester has the ability to download capacity results to a computer via USB connection. The software is user-friendly and will give an accurate assessment of the battery capacity or charger quality. Results can be printed and/or stored to justify battery or charger replacement. www.mkbattery.com
The iRide is the lightest portable electric scooter in our line-up. This foldable electric scooter was designed to fit into any size vehicle and small storage areas. The iRide is equipped with a lithium-ion battery pack which is airline and travel safe! This portable lightweight travel solution weighs in at only 21kg, inclusive of the batteries.
ONE SCOOTER, ENDLESS ADVENTURES! This portable 3-wheel scooter features an easy-to-read digital odometer, manual handbrake with a supplemental footbrake for added safety, 17 stone 12 lbs weight capacity, speeds up to 3.7 mph with a twist-grip throttle and has flight safe batteries. Available in a variety of colours, there’s something for every style.
Alerta Medical bed protection is made with PU (Polyurethane Fabric) instead of PVC due to risks of Phthalates with PVC. PU is safer and higher quality, breathable and serves a longer life time.
ALT-112 2 Bar Rail Bumpers with Netting ALT-115 2 Bar 20cm Extended Version
ALT-113 3 Bar Rail Bumpers with Netting
ALT-114 Full Length Bed Rail Bumpers
ALT-116 Safety Side Wedge Set
ALT-117 Head & Foot Board Protector
48 / www.thiis.co.uk +44 (0)3452 088 097 | www.alertamedical.com | firstname.lastname@example.org
Haze HZYEV12-80 Gel Battery from Easystart Batteries The HZY-EV12-80 is a completely sealed, maintenance free gel battery manufactured by Haze. Gel batteries are vacuum sealed units filled with a gel silica rather than traditional acid. The gel makes for a more robust battery as it is vibration- and shock-resistant. The suspension of the electrolyte also means the battery will hold its charge for a longer period and it protects
the plates from sulphating or corroding. One of the major benefits of gel batteries is their resistance to sulphation, which occurs when a battery is left in a discharged state for a long period of time or is used when not fully charged. As with most Haze batteries, HZY-EV12-80 offers an increased capacity without increasing
the physical box size at 87.9Ah. It is perfectly suited to those who use their mobility scooters very frequently. www.easystartbatteries.co.uk
HZB-EV12-33EX AGM Battery from Easystart The HZBEV12-33EX is a completely sealed, maintenance-free AGM battery. The EX Range was in development for over five years before its launch and delivers exceptional specifications beyond original box size beliefs as it utilises the empty box space found in most batteries. This has resulted in the capacity of the EX batteries being increased by up to 46 per cent compared to standard AGM batteries. HZB-EV12-33EX offers 41.1Ah in a 33Ah box size – perfectly suited to a user who needs more power but has limited space on their mobility scooter. This battery is fitted as original equipment on Sunrise Medical scooters. www.easystartbatteries.co.uk
700+ walking sticks, seat sticks and accessories available from stock. Please contact us for our trade catalogue: Tel 01460 75686 www.classiccanes.co.uk
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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
Sealed VRLA AGM Batteries from MK Battery International These AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries are suitable for lighter duty mobility use. Although AGM batteries do not match the cycle-life performance of gel batteries, they do offer a lower initial cost and will supply sufficient functionality to meet the less critical needs of certain lighter duty mobility applications.
Mobility Bag with Stick Holder from Drive DeVilbiss This popular scooter accessory provides excellent storage space, making it ideal for shopping trips or a place to store all those essentials when out for day. It also features an easy-access zipped pocket and a handy side-mounted holder for a walking stick. Spacious, strong and waterproof, the bag is made with stylish black nylon upholstery. The large zipped main storage compartment comes with a handy, quick access pouch on the rear of the bag. It has a flexible plastic lifting handle and is available in dimensions 12 inches by 20 inches by 5.5 inches. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk
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For heavy daily use and traditional rehab applications, continued utilisation of heavy-duty gel batteries is highly recommended. MK AGM batteries are IATA approved for safe travel. www.mkbattery.com
All chairs are not the same Snowdon Bariatric
For more information on our range go to... www.primacare.co.uk
RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
Lightweight Powerstroll from Drive DeVilbiss The dual-wheel lightweight Powerstroll claims to take the strain out of pushing a heavy wheelchair and makes easy work of hills, ramps and gradients. It can be easily fitted and removed within seconds and adapts to fit many wheelchair sizes. Allowing a speed of up to 3mph, the Powerstroll has a maximum range of 10 miles. It fits many wheelchairs with seat widths from 14 inches to 20 inches. It is also lightweight at 14kg and weighs less than 8kg with the battery pack removed for easy transportation. A trigger handset with variable speed dial and forward/reverse button can be used to suit the attendant and user requirements. The product also features twin ‘Drive’ wheels with eight inch black non-marking PU tyres. Using a 12v 20ah battery (airline friendly), the product comes with an easy-to-use lift up strap to increase manoeuvrability. Its weight capacity is 18 stone. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk
Intelligent Braking System
Intelligent Cruise Control
M o t i o n D i re c t C o n t ro l
The experts in home adaptations. The only company that can offer your customers Stairlifts, Accessible Bathing AND Homelifts.
To start referring your stairlift, bathing and homelift leads, or to find out more information, give us a call!
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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
Heated Waterproof Blanket from Monarch Mobility This waterproof heated blanket is the perfect accessory for owners of mobility scooters and powerchairs. The soft, cosy inner blanket is comforting on cooler days and evenings, whilst its tough, waterproof outer offers the perfect defence against summer showers. Designed for indoor and outdoor use, the carbon fibre heating elements ensure that the user stays warm wherever they are. Featuring infrared heat therapy function, threezone heating, a 24V adapter and a 4400 mah Lithium battery, as well as a mains power charger. The blanket has two securing straps and two coloured luminated heating lights. www.monarchmobility.com
Cargo Trailer from Monarch Mobility The perfect accessory for shopping excursions, this cargo trailer can handle that weekly shop with ease. It is compatible with almost any mobility scooter and is ideal for carrying heavy or bulky items. The trailer features an easy-to-attach quick-release tow bar and has a loading capacity of up to 40kg. This makes it perfect for trips to the supermarket or for general storage while out and about. www.monarchmobility.com
Triride TriBike Hybrid Plus from Triride The Tribike Hybrid Plus is an electrically assisted handcycle. Available with a 20-inch or 16 inch-wheel and various configurations, it can be fitted to most manual wheelchairs. The Tribike Hybrid Plus includes the brand’s exclusive electronics systems to further enhance the riding experience. A seven-speed gear shift is available in different gear ratios to suit the rider’s preference. In addition, a 250w motor and bluetooth-ondemand throttle for start/walk assist allow power-only operation up to 6km/h. Paired with the brand’s larger battery option and the user will have electric-assist cycling up to 100km in range, making it a great way to keep active and see the countryside from an existing manual wheelchair. www.triride.uk
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configurator.accessbdd.com Instant Price. Instant Visualisation. Instant Adaptability. Design your Altura home lift on the Access BDD website now.
RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
Gel Seat Cushion from Drive DeVilbiss The Gel Seat Cushion was developed to provide wheelchair users with maximum comfort and support. It is also great for many other seating environments, such as around the home or at work, where the user may be sat for long periods. The cover has a waterproof nylon top and non-slip vinyl bottom, which are easy to clean. Its viscous gel provides maximum support and comfort while a convenient carry handle is handy for easy transportation. The cushion is available in three different thicknesses, depending on user comfort requirements, and comes in attractive retail packaging. Its weight capacity is 18 stone. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk
Triride Special Compact HT from Triride The Triride High Torque Motor Special Compact HT is a great all-round product. It is a small size frontal add-on but is extremely capable when needed. As with all Triride models, its performance can be enhanced with electronic features, such as the Intelligent Braking System and Intelligent Cruise Control all encompassed with EcoDrive software. EcoDrive allows the user to consume less power when it is not needed, which increases battery range on easy routes but also to have full power available at the flick of a switch to handle those steeper climbs. At just 11kg in weight (excluding battery and attaching frame), it is also very portable. www.triride.uk
Sealed VRLA Genuine Gel Batteries from MK Battery International These MK Gel batteries have years of proven performance and significantly longer life - averaging one to two years or longer when properly maintained, making them a popular choice for wheelchair manufacturers. Offering great performance and quality, the MK Gel complies with international standards that define Gel batteries. The electrolyte is completely immobilised in a highly viscous gelling agent in order to prevent spillage. MK Gel batteries are IATA approved for safe travel. www.mkbattery.com
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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.
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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE
TGA Powerpack (Solo and Duo) from TGA Mobility When pushing a wheelchair, the TGA Powerpack can lend a helping hand to alleviate most of the pressure. Attaching to most wheelchairs in seconds, the powerpack turns the hard work of pushing into a smooth, motorised experience for the attendant with an easy-to-operate hand control. Designed and manufactured in the UK, the Powerpack allows a mileage of up to 10 miles at a time and is easy to transport, being lightweight enough to take onto a plane, train or pop into a car boot. Versions of the Powerpack include the Solo, the lightest model; the Duo, which allows a maximum weight capacity of 18 stone; the HD, offering an increased maximum user weight of 26 stone and the Plus, the most powerful model capable of pushing occupants of up to 32 stone. All of the models are well-paired with TGA Strongback wheelchairs. www.tgamobility.co.uk
DELIVERY l Nationwide delivery & installation l Removal & disposal of old products
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l 35,000 Square foot warehouse
0330 445 0099 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hdd-ltd.com
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SERVICING l Annual equipment servicing l LOLER testing & inspection l Bed inspections & servicing l Engineer call-outs for repairs
STORAGE l Short term storage solutions
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The updated Blazer has a number of user friendly upgrades and is now even narrower than before. It is still available with either a Sling or Captain seat and a variety of accessories.
Manual Recline No Tilt-in-Space Captain Sitting Nominal Seat Width (inch): 18 / 20
Tilt-in-Space/ Standard Seat Sling Sitting Adjustable Seat Depth Manual Stepless Recline Nominal Seat Width (inch): 17 / 19 / 20
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The Minimo and Maximo range – folding capabilities with no compromise on style. With lightweight batteries and simple folding mechanisms, the Minimo and Maximo range of scooters are ideal for your customers to pop in the car boot for days out. To enquire about the Minimo and Maximo range
Call 01787 888 106
or email email@example.com www.tgamobility.co.uk QUOTE: THSA21
The May issue of THIIS asks the controversial question that splits opinion within the mobility and access industry: Do mobility products hav...