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THIIS Trade Magazine • Issue 252 • September 2019

THIIS Issue 252 September 2019

TRADE MAGAZINE

A Fortuna turn of events Providing news and views in the trade since 1999

Originally entering the mobility market as a sideline and now boasting London’s largest mobility showroom, Fortuna Mobility explains its formula to mobility retail success

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welcome

…from the editor

Don’t be shy, why not get in touch...

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

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he quote by John Lydgate is still as true now as it was in the 15th Century when the poet said it, however, in the 1400s, people did not have to contend with the internet and a plethora of channels open to them to share their displeasure. Today, with the likes of Google Review, Facebook, Trustpilot, Twitter, Tripadvisor and more, there have never been so many ways for people to voice when they have received a service that didn’t meet their expectations. It means companies need to be on their A-game all the time and even then, it is sometimes impossible to avoid causing a grievance, particularly in the mobility industry. Be it an issue with a refund, warranty or issue with a product, mobility retailers are on the frontline and will often be the first to feel the online wrath of customers, whether that wrath is warranted or not. The question is, what should a mobility dealer do when a negative review appears online? It is something we will be discussing in our October issue and we would love to hear your thoughts, opinions, advice and anecdotes on the matter. Drop me an email at calvin@thiis.co.uk On to our current is, we caught up with Fortuna Mobility, London’s largest mobility showroom, to discover how the company is working to shift its business model in a retail / health care professional hybrid. There seems to be a growing demand from professionals in the industry for something to distinguish them as just that - professional. In the coming months, I am sure it is something that will continue to be discussed as those companies in the industry that are investing in their staff and processes will be keen to distinguish themselves. Also in this issue, top mobility retailers from the industry share their thoughts on what suppliers could do to make their lives easier, as well as highlight their favourite products in the industry this month. We are always interested to hear which products are standing out in the market and if you are keen to point out a product that has particularly impressed you, feel free to get in touch.

Editor

Calvin Barnett 01933 278086 newsroom@thiis.co.uk

Advertising

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

Sub-editor

Calvin Barnett

Sarah Sarsby sarah@thiis.co.uk

Editor

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

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contents

8 Time for a review of mobility scooter regulations?

Features 12 Music to your customers’ ears 16 Maximise exhibition effectiveness 52 Where do we stand?

Regulars 30 Retailers’ Product of

6 Middletons’ moves east and south west

the Month 36 Retailer Spotlight 48 Trade thoughts… 46 Meet…

30 Retailers’ picks

50 The OT’s Perspective 54 Trip down memory

lane 62 Training Diary 64 Recruitment 4 | www.thiis.co.uk

50 The OT’s Perspective

46 Meet… Thomas Owen


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THE NATIONAL EXPANSION PLAN CONTINUES Middletons, the bricks and mortar proposition from the owners of Bristolbased, direct-selling furniture firm Oak Tree Mobility, has continued its drive to expand its operations nationwide with a raft of shop openings this summer which saw the retailer, spreading further east and south west.

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ormed in 2013 by business partners Ricky Towler and Tom Powell, Middletons has rapidly been enhancing its reach across the UK in its bid to become one of the largest national mobility retailers in the sector. In 2018, the company received a £3.8million investment from the Development Bank of Wales and

Bristol-based Wealth Club, backing the owners’ national retail ambitions. Following its substantial cash injection, Middletons announced a plan to open 24 stores across the UK by the end of 2020 and in 2018, it completed the first phase with nine new branches. Not showing signs of stopping, Middletons began its second phase of store openings in the first half of 2019, with new outlets in Coventry, Cheltenham and Cannock.

That momentum has continued into the summer, with the retailer completing a string of openings just weeks apart from one another, expanding further east and entering the busy South West arena – a hotly contested area in the mobility sector. July saw the company open stores in Brierley Hill, increasing its presence in the West Midlands, as well as in Nottingham, marking Middletons’ first store in the East Midlands. In August, Middletons moved further into the South West, with branches in Swindon and importantly, Plymouth – it’s first branch on the coast of the South West. Discussing the decision to enter Plymouth, an area with a number of already well-

More Middletons stores pop up in South West, West Midlands and East Midlands

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Tom highlighted the company has invested in redesigning its retail experience

established retailers, director Tom Powell told THIIS the city is a key location for its retail ambitions in the South West region. “After Bristol, Plymouth is the biggest city in the South West so straight away we felt we needed a presence there,” he explained. “To our delight, detailed research confirmed that Plymouth has a large resident population of potential customers as well as being strategically located to give access to surrounding towns and into Cornwall. The store is already looking great with a strong, customer focused team joining us.” With seven store launches under its belt so far this year, Tom confirmed more branch openings are looming but said he is not ready to give away

“We never announce a new store until we have everything in order but we already have a number lined up ready - the next one is due in October!” TOM POWELL

their locations. “After a run of successfully opening 12 locations in 18 months, we’re now looking to open another 10 by the end of 2020 in some key locations across the UK,” he said. “Over the next 18 months, we’ll look to continually evolve, build on our growing brand reputation as experts in the industry and continue to delight

customers up and down the country. “We never announce a new store until we have everything in order but we already have a number lined up ready - the next one is due in October! Anybody already in the industry looking for a new challenge with a forward-thinking company, I’d recommend you give us a call.” https://middletons.co.uk

DOES THE FUTURE LIE IN RETAIL PARKS? July retail statistics from Springboard reveal a tough climate for bricks and mortar retailers on Britain’s high streets and shopping centres. High street footfall declined by 2.7 percent whilst shopping centre footfall declined by 3.1 percent against the same period last year. Despite high streets and shopping centres struggling to attract shoppers, retail parks

managed to buck the trend, with footfall up by 1.2 percent. The figures follow Ableworld’s Mike Williams prediction that retail parks may be where the future lies for the mobility market. “I’ve always thought that the way retail in the mobility market is moving - there will be a B&M, a Boots store, a DIY store and a mobility store in most retail parks,” he commented.

“It is a natural way for the market to go.” Retail parks also form a key aspect of Middletons’ retail strategy, with the company often opting to situate its stores in the out-of-town shopping hubs, benefitting from complementary footfall and good access to car parking.

www.thiis.co.uk | 7


TIME TO REVIEW MOBILITY SCOOTER REGULATIONS? Families of loved-ones seriously injured by mobility scooters are petitioning for a review of the regulations surrounding the powered mobility aids. With more scooters on Britain’s pavements than ever before, is it time for the Government to look again at the rules governing the mobility devices or should the trade act pre-emptively to introduce an industry-wide solution?

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aunched in late July, the petition ‘to review the regulations surrounding Mobility Scooter usage and liability’ endeavours to challenge the current laws governing the mobility devices. Started by 28-year-old Thomas Roden, it was after his 87-year-old grandmother was struck by a scooter in Plymouth, resulting in serious injuries, that he was inspired to change the laws surrounding mobility scooters. The petition reads: ‘Currently in the UK, there is no legal requirement to have insurance or training to own/

operate a mobility scooter. ‘There is no identification of a mobility scooter/driver if an accident is caused removing all liability. The aim is to prevent future incidents involving mobility scooters occurring.’ With approximately 1,000 signatures already and with five months left for the petition to run, if the petition reaches 10,000 signatures, the Government will be required to respond. In the event the petition reaches 100,000, it will be considered for debate in Parliament. Working to promote the petition is the family of Irmgard Wicken, a

There is a growing call from the public to address the laws relating to mobility scooters

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92-year-old retired dental nurse who was hospitalised after being hit from behind by a scooter in Feltham. Mrs Wicken, who is also a full-time carer for her husband, was left with a shattered wrist and broken leg after the accident, with both her and her husband having to move into a care home whilst she recuperates. In the wake of the accident, Mrs Wicken’s daughter Rita Porter said: “This is a national problem which needs addressing before someone is killed. “This is not to stop the use of scooters as we understand they are a lifeline to people who are disabled, but to make drivers accountable for their actions and to be registered and insured.” THE CURRENT RULES Officially classed as either class 2 or class 3 invalid carriages, mobility scooter insurance, training or assessments are not compulsory, despite class 3 mobility scooters being legally required to be registered with the DVLA for road use. Users of class 3 mobility scooter wishing to exceed more than 4mph are required to use the device on road alongside other motor vehicles and are also permitted to travel on dual carriageways if they meet the right criteria.


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GROWING CONCERNS The concern surrounding mobility scooter safety has continued to gain attention, as more stories of accidents and incidents continue to appear in the media. In May, BBC radio presenter Jeremy Vine raised the topic of scooter safety when a lane of the M25 had to be closed down due to a scooter user accidentally joining the busy road. Additionally, in July, Councillor David Fairweather of Angus Council echoed the call for a review of scooters, stating that some users are driving the devices on roads and pavements inappropriately and, sometimes, under the influence of drink or drugs. Discussing the issue with Jeremy Vine, retailer Mobility Giant’s director Laurence Wright suggested that whilst accidents do occur, it is important to consider incidents in a wider context. “You don’t want to run away with the idea that there are loads and loads of people dying to get out on dual carriageways and busy roads on mobility scooters; it’s very rare that happens,” he pointed out. “If safety is the issue here, then pushbikes cause a great deal more problems on safety than I think mobility scooters do, so you have to put it into perspective.” Aiming to tackle the growing concerns and rising number of accidents however, a number of mobility retailers, suppliers, local authorities and police forces have undertaken initiatives to improve safety. Ranging from free-to-attend scooter training courses through to new technology, such as Mark Mobility’s mobility scooter bumper stop, the industry has employed various efforts to stem the increase, however, there has yet to be a sustained, integrated, national solution.

Those in the industry highlight that mobility scooter incidents are relatively low compared to other vehicles, such as cars and bikes

TIME TO ACT? Many inside and outside the industry have called for the introduction of compulsory insurance as a potential nationwide option for reducing the number of accidents, however, Southampton-based KJ Mobility’s Kay Towers argues the answer lies in the selling of the devices. “I feel that more needs to be done to stop any company being able to sell a mobility scooter without any assessment or training,” she said. “Having insurance will not stop people having accidents, it will just cover them if they do. It is the selling of the mobility scooters that needs to be addressed properly.” Supporting Kay’s view, Ray Hodgkinson MBE, former Director General of the BHTA, has suggested the time has come for the industry to act by introducing a form of industry qualification. “The population is more aware & savvier and there is now an expectation when purchasing any technical product, you can rely upon an appropriately trained and qualified person – we should be thinking of the

“I am sure we all believe we are professional and it’s an easy term to use but a nationally recognised qualification will go a long way to sealing that claim” RAY HODGKINSON MBE

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problem in that way,” he emphasised. “Regulations only go so far and they rely upon everyone involved in the process to ensure high standards, eliminate risks where possible and ensure that the person being let loose on the scooter has a good level of competence. “We, as an industry supplying the large numbers of product into the market, can make a difference to the situation which, in turn, will improve confidence in retailers, clinicians and procurement authorities.” Highlighting that many of the building blocks needed to create a system to qualify and accredit those selling mobility devices already exist, Ray notes that there are also a number of industry agencies in operation today that can endorse and certificate such a scheme. “This takes resource to organise, including funding, people and the will to do it, however, I do believe this is something the sector should lead on. It’s a natural one for the BHTA and its members to get a step ahead before more scrutiny, rules and criticism envelops the industry”, he finished. “I am sure we all believe we are professional and it’s an easy term to use but a nationally recognised qualification will go a long way to sealing that claim, as well as reducing the chance of more accidents in what is a growing market place which, in its current state, may only see things get worse.”


MUSIC TO YOUR CUSTOMERS’ EARS When conversations turn to marketing and how mobility companies can better engage with customers, visual considerations usually spring to mind - billboards, print adverts, websites, social media and more. Less common is the idea of audio branding however, despite the telephone being the first port of call for many customers wanting to find out more about a business. Aiming to give some sound Daniel Lafferty ideas to mobility retailers and suppliers alike, Daniel Lafferty, Director of Music and Voice at PHMG, discusses why investing in the sound of a company sounds might strike the right note with customers. BY DANIEL LAFFERTY

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s the UK population gets older, an increasing number of people are providing unpaid, informal care for family members. Nearly three in five carers in England and Wales are aged 50 years and over, many of whom are still in full-time employment as well as having responsibility for the daily care and welfare of elderly or disabled relatives. And with 20 percent of homes occupied by older people in England failing the government’s basic standard of decency, retailers in the independent living sector can expect opportunities to emerge as families seek life-enhancing housing adaptations direct from retailers. As more and more people want to live longer in the comfort and dignity of their own homes, they need a lot of extra assistance to do so. And not just from relatives willing to give their time and support. They also need practical equipment and assistive aids which will make everyday tasks that were once simple and taken for granted, easier to manage in old age or disability. Subsequently, mobility and

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independent living retailers are big business right now – riding the wave of this demographic and socioeconomic trend. Local retailers who can provide first-class service and affordable solutions that harness the best technology and everyday practical aids should thrive in this buoyant market – if they stand out for the right reasons.

brochures and advertising. Yet few businesses recognise that how a brand sounds can be just as influential as how it looks. In fact, a recent study found that 60 percent of Brits now feel that music is more memorable than visuals when used in marketing.

LENDING A SYMPATHETIC EAR The importance of making a positive first impression in this very sensitive and growing market is crucial. Concerned consumers will thoroughly research which companies will be best to help them through the difficult transition to being either a carer - or cared for. All businesses are now exposed to the wrath of online rants that name and shame businesses that disappoint. But equally, they can reap the rewards of glowing forum testimonials, word of mouth recommendations and Trustpilot ratings. Visual marketing generally dominates every marketing budget – from dynamic websites and engaging social media to well-designed

SINGING YOUR PRAISES Are you a Which? Trusted Trader, member of the British Healthcare Trades Association or Motabilityaccredited? Or have you scored highly on customer review sites such as Feefo or Trustpilot? Perhaps you have invested in having your team complete the Disabled Living Foundation’s Trusted Assessor courses? All of these well-known accreditations and associations help potential customers trust a business and the short time a customer is on hold provides a business the perfect opportunity to let them know.


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Well-crafted and well-executed audio branding productions have the ability to generate sales and deliver one of the most valuable marketing assets – long-term customer loyalty. PLEASE HOLD… The telephone still remains a key touchpoint in the customer journey, from product and cost enquiries through to arranging product demos or delivery. It is therefore an essential tool in delivering excellence in customer service. Research shows that 73 percent of Brits would not do repeat business with a company if their first call wasn’t handled satisfactorily. Brand reputation can be irreversibly damaged by a badly handled call - or worse still - an unanswered call. When it comes to choosing the right soundtrack that callers hear when they are put on hold, mobility retailers should think like a customer. How would they react to confusing silence, irritating beeps or repetitive ‘please hold’ messages during what could be a distressing time? In fact, our research shows that the average hold time is 33.56 seconds. Would a customer wait that long to get answers to life-changing and potentially life-enhancing questions? Or would they hang up and call the next provider on their list? THE SOUND OF A SENSITIVE BRAND An effective audio branding

Are you making the most out of those precious moments your customer is on hold?

14 | www.thiis.co.uk

soundtrack combines a unique combination of three elements: brandcongruent voiceover, custom-made music and an engaging script. Music is powerfully influential and emotive – it has the ability to remind people of events, people and places that can raise a smile. But not always. If callers have a negative association with a well-known song it could prove costly, not only in terms of copyright spend, but also brand integrity. It could even make callers hang up if memories are too painful. When creating an audio brand production, the composer needs to fully immerse themselves in the essence of your brand and think about what customers should feel when they hear the music. In the independent living sector, callers need to feel reassured that they are in safe hands with a sense of calm and confidence that the retailer can change the quality of their lives for the better. In retail, high street and massmarket audio branding favours major tonality and bright, fresh live instrumentation. However, for specialist retailers targeting a more mature audience with very specific needs, laid back music with a calm melodic tempo would be more appropriate to evoke a sense of professionalism and empathy. Mainly female voiceovers are used in this sector, and the tone will be friendly and engaging, inviting people to spend in a relatable, “you deserve this” manner.

MAKE THE RIGHT NOISE Not only does audio branding establish brand personality, it keeps customers informed - and therefore spending – and brand loyal. Scripts can be tailored to promote special offers and new product launches or share practical information such as store opening times and parking information. Savvy retailers could also craft scripts to tie in with disability or charity awareness weeks to demonstrate that they are in touch with the very specific needs of individual illnesses and disabilities. Industry accreditations and staff qualifications can be shared to reassure callers of a professional and personal service with exemplary standards of care and knowledge. As well as giving practical advice, scripts can be updated regularly to share independent living tips and expert advice on government initiatives to new and nervous customers. Powerful audio branding productions give mobility retailers a compassionate voice. It provides a platform for them to become the ‘goto’ resource for the latest information as well as products that will enable customers to live longer, happier lives in their own homes. www.phmg.com

Working to get companies heard, PHMG supply audio branding and on-hold marketing to retailers across the world. Based in Manchester, PHMG works with 36,000 clients across. To find out more about the company call 0161 877 2253

FIRST TIME HEARING OF ON HOLD MARKETING? On hold marketing essentially involves the creation of audio marketing messages which are played to telephone customers whenever they are put on hold, transferred or call outside of normal office hours.


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HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF AN EXHIBITION James Lancaster

In the world of modern marketing, retailers and suppliers alike have a range of channels available to them to get in front of customers, be it through their website, social media, emails and more. Few channels however provide the same opportunity to meet key target audiences in the flesh like a trade exhibition.

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hese shows still provide companies with an effective way to establish long-term relationships with customers, gather valuable market research and demonstrate new products to people interested enough to take the time and effort to attend. To mark the launch of its annual Summit this October, the Mature Marketing Association’s Managing Director James Lancester shares seven valuable tips for mobility retailers aiming to engage older consumers at trade shows. BY JAMES LANCASTER 1. BE AUTHENTIC It’s easy to cover an exhibition stand in vague brand messages and hope for the best but doing so will make your stand fade into the background for delegates. Make sure your messaging speaks to the audience at the event, be it older consumers, healthcare professionals or the trade, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. Also, older consumers can be less patient with aspirational brand statements that offer little detail, so be specific.

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2. GIVE DELEGATES WHAT THEY WANT Free refreshments and somewhere to rest are good ideas. Comfort is king: padded chairs are a rare beast in most event venues. Trying to stand out from the crowd using virtual or augmented reality technology might prolong sales conversations in the short-term but simply incorporating the latest ‘must-have’ technology may prove a hindrance for someone with wellresearched, specific questions. Always bear the audience you are attempting to reach in mind and tailor your offer towards them. If you are a mobility retailer attempting to engage with OTs for example, then literature highlighting different mobility products or running mini-training or information sessions on products on stand might be the right move. If you are engaging with a trade audience, having marketing and point-of-sale materials on hand to give to retailers to help sell new products could be a good idea. 3. UNDERSTAND YOUR CONSUMER For the older consumer, the “pain” points of any prospective purchase may well be different to those of

younger buyers. These might include: • High amounts of information to be remembered can equal stress for any buyer - Are there formats that would make the information easier to absorb? Is the desire to appear an expert harming your opportunity? • “Lack of transparency” is a commonly heard fear - Beware your use of jargon or your desire to show the technical brilliance of your product as these can raise the fear that you are telling them what they don’t need or hiding what they do. Knowing who you want to reach at a show and understanding more about their needs and wants will help you tailor your offer and improve your ability to engage with them. 4. BUILD A RELATIONSHIP Branded pens, USB sticks and mobile chargers are everywhere and are often viewed as items ready to go into the recycling. Rather than giving out generic freebies, use exhibitions as an opportunity to build relationships with prospective buyers. When exhibiting with younger audiences, perhaps at events where healthcare professionals will attend such as OTAC, consider ways of attracting and then encouraging visitors to share photos on social,


Have you considered exhibiting at industry events such as OTAC or local events to reach a new audience?

driving organic engagement with your brand and lengthening the conversation into one of shared views and potential brand champions. With older consumers, be prepared to spend the time having conversations and listening to their needs to find ways your products can provide a solution. 5. BE AWARE OF THEIR CONSUMER JOURNEY What are the “tasks” undertaken when someone is buying a product such as a mobility scooter or riser recliner? Recent research recently undertaken by AutoTrader showed that, on average, both buyers & sellers estimated there were five tasks (insurance, finance etc) to be completed before any car purchase could be undertaken. When listed properly, the same research showed that list can be as long as 23! Consider what are the tasks involved for the products you sell, such as scooter (insurance, finance, service) and how you might help a non-expert buyer complete those tasks. 6. REMEMBER THE BASICS One of our keynote speakers at this year’s MMA Summit will talk of a

mystery shopper exercise undertaken recently that showed that less than 50 percent of retailers actually took potential buyers through the features and benefits of their product. 15 percent of retailers took no details at all in order to maintain communications with shoppers! At an event, be sure to remember to capture interested attendees data – this will enable you to continue building those long-term relationship long after the show comes to a close. 7. PROVIDE THE WARMEST WELCOME (AND HAVE THE MOST FUN) Your event team is your secret weapon: the difference between leaving an event with a half-full database of cold leads or a calendar full of prospect meetings. Most important of all: let your team be human. Your exhibit stand is not a website or a glossy brochure. It’s a chance to make eye contact with customers and clients and to start building a relationship. No visitor wants to hear a sales pitch spoken at them. Share a joke. Smile. And enjoy the event yourself. To register to attend this year’s MMA Summit, visit www.themma. marketing/summit

KEEN TO LEARN FROM THE MOBILITY INDUSTRY’S MARKETING EXPERIENCE The MMA is eager to learn from the mobility trade’s experience in reaching older customers, as well as share ideas from some of the world’s biggest brands, at this year’s MMA Summit. “Many brands are now just waking up to the need to reach out to an older demographic, however, it is something that the mobility industry has been doing successfully for decades,” said MMA MD James Lancester. “It would be fantastic to bring these expert mobility marketers together with marketers from other global brands such as AutoTrader and The Daily Telegraph to network, swap ideas and discuss thoughtprovoking topics at this year’s Summit.” The event will see talks from global brands, sharing of research into older consumers, as well as unique networking sessions to meet like-minded professionals in an informal setting.

THE MMA SUMMIT The event for marketers specialising in reaching older consumers, this year’s MMA Summit will be held on the 17th October from 8:45 to 17:00. Cavendish Conference Centre, 22 Duchess Mews, London, W1G 9DT

www.thiis.co.uk | 17


round-up

Reducing air travel pressures A new partnership will see customers of easyTravelseat’s unique seating device have the option to incorporate Gel Ovations Europe’s Dimensional Gel pad for enhanced comfort and added pressure relief. The brainchild of entrepreneur Josh Wintersgill, the easyTravelseat is an in-situ transfer sling / seat to help wheelchair users transfer safely, comfortably and quickly into and out of aeroplane seats. The device has strong handles for cabin crews to be able to lift and transfer someone from their wheelchair to their aeroplane seat. Additionally, the easyTravelseat has been designed so the user remains in the it throughout their journey, avoiding the need and the wait for specialist transferring equipment on departure and arrival, The new collaboration between easyTravelseat and Gel Ovations will now see the latter’s Dimensional Gel pad being offered as an optional extra, which can be inserted to alleviate pressure on a user’s lower back and seat area. Precision moulded from medical grade silicone, the cellular design of the pad allows air to easily circulate between the cells, minimising both heat and moisture build-up, as well as allowing for even pressure distribution - reducing the risk of pressure ulcers. www.easytravelseat.com

Getting people back on their feet Yorkshire Care Equipment has secured a new deal to supply over 50 Raizer emergency lifting chairs to the Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS). The deal forms part of a new joint project between YAS and NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group to get people who have fallen back on their feet as soon as possible. Capable of being assembled by a single carer around someone that has fallen, the Raizer enables a carer to begin lifting some back to a seated or standing position whilst maintaining eye contact and communication during the lifting process. The results from the use of Raizers in the new joint project will be shared with other ambulance services which are also trialling the equipment. www.yorkshirecareequipment.com

CHARTERWOOD MOBILITY SNAPS UP COMPETITOR’S ASSETS After Kent retailer Euromobility announced in June that it was shutting its doors for good, fellow Maidstone-based Charterwood Mobility has confirmed it has purchased assets of the defunct shop. A representative from Charterwood Mobility told THIIS that the company has purchased Euromobility’s website, telephone number and company name, however, has not acquired the company itself. Operating since 1994, Euromobility’s directors Lesley Floyd and Mandy Fenton closed the shop after losing vital income from work it carried out for Kent County Council. Alongside purchasing Euromobility’s assets, Motability-accredited Charterwood Mobility has also employed one of the members of Euromobility’s former team on a full-time basis, who is now based at its store – one of the largest mobility showrooms in the county. https://charterwood.co.uk


round-up

MOBILITY PRODUCT ENJOYS MILLIONS OF VIEWS IN A COUPLE OF DAYS AS VIDEO GOES VIRAL For many brands and marketers, the dream of having a product or their company being the subject of a viral video is often an illusive dream. Usually inexpensive to produce, viral videos can reach millions and have an air of authenticity about them that cannot often be achieved through promotional videos. So, when Stiltz Homelift in the USA discovered one of its homelifts was the subject of a viral video that had

been viewed more than nine million times, the company must have felt it had just struck gold. Created by popular American YouTuber Zack Nelson, better known as JerryRigEverything, the video ‘How to Install an Elevator in your LivingRoom!’ managed to gain serious traction on the video-sharing social media platform. Zack, 31, filmed the entire installation process of a Stiltz Trio

Homelift in the house he shares with his paraplegic fiancee, Cambry Kaylor, combining tons of humour with tech insights about the lift. Mark Blomfield, President of Stiltz USA, commented: “The video is absolutely brilliant and has to be the most viral video in the mobility and independent living industry in history!” www.stiltz.co.uk

Repose heats up retailer support program Continuing its dealer support program, Repose Furniture’ September promotion sees the manufacturer offering a heat-only system for £99 (subject to model of chair), which normally retails at £155. The system comes with two heat modules, with one fitted into the seat area of the chair and the other available as a loose cushion heat pad that the user can position for their own comfort behind their back, on their lap or to the side.

The heat pad offers flexibility to the user as it can be unplugged and stored with the handset in the chair side pocket when not in use. Both the pads are controlled independently with a simple-to-use handset which has two temperature settings, just press once for low and twice for high. With running costs as low as 1p an hour, the heat system offers an economic way of providing a little more warmth on cold days. Retailers just need to quote ref SEPTEMBER2019 between September 1st and 30th to benefit from this offer. www.reposefurniture.co.uk


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round-up

STAFFORDSHIRE MOBILITY OPENS FIRST BRICKS & MORTAR BASE Formerly situated in the small town of Hanley’s market, Staffordshire Mobility owners Jimmy and Yanny Lee have now launched their own bricks and mortar store in a more prominent town centre location Entering the mobility market nine years ago, the married couple’s new premises will allow the retailer to stock and display more products, as well as enable it to look into expanding home adaptations as well. The new store location is 55-57 Upper Huntbach Street, Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST1 2BX www.staffordshiremobility.co.uk

Essex Equipment Service awarded ‘top marks’ Community equipment provider Essex Equipment Service (EES), part of Essex Cares Limited (ECL), has received ‘top marks’ from the Community Equipment Code of Practice Service (CECOPS) in its first accreditation assessment. The service, which provides over 130,000 items to Essex residents annually, was reviewed against 22 standards by the independent certification and standards body and achieved ‘requirements met’ - the highest score – across 19, as well as no ‘non-conformities’. Brian Donnelly, CEO of CECOPS, said: “Well done to the team at ECL on achieving CECOPS accreditation. The assessor was impressed with the service and the ‘can do’ attitude. Achieving accreditation first time without any non-conformities being identified doesn’t happen very often, and ECL managed to achieve this.” Working with approximately 200 assistive technology services across the UK, CECOPS accreditation is highly sought after in the increasingly competitive community equipment sector, acting as a badge of credibility for assistive technology services. www.ecl.org

BAGS OF SUCCESS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL INITIATIVE A new initiative to cut down the amount of plastic used in its business operations has led to a substantial drop in plastic bags distributed by Clearwell Mobility. From 1st June 2019, the South East’s largest Motability-accredited mobility dealer rolled out a number of green initiatives to help reduce its impact on the environment, including charging 5p for plastic bags. Aiming to slash the 22,000 plastic carrier bags it issued last year, the bag charge encourages users to bring their own reusable bags, with all funds raised from the new fee being donated to national charity Gardening for Disabled Trust. Two months since the eco-friendly initiative was introduced, the mobility retailer says it has seen an 83 percent decrease in the number of plastic bags used in July 2019 in comparison to the same period last year. www.clearwellmobility.co.uk

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According to National Geographic, approximately eight million tons of plastic waste escapes into the oceans every year, with plastic bags taking anywhere between 20 to 1000 years to decompose.


Harmony FE Homelift The newest member in our family of high quality access solutions Harmony FE (Fully Enclosed) Homelift: Sizes to suit most properties Choose from: Wheelchair & attendant Wheelchair Compact Reliable & easy to operate Exceptional 325kg weight capacity Features for users of all abilities Resolves current & future access problems Quick, no mess, no fuss installation Buy direct from the British manufacturer Complies with BS5900 & 2006/42/EC machinery directive Nationwide aftercare

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new to the market

THIIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO SHARE NEW PRODUCTS Do you have a new product that you want to tell the trade about? Simply send details over to Calvin Barnett at calvin@thiis.co.uk for a chance to have THIIS share your new product with the trade!

ADDING A SPRING TO THE STEP OF RETAILERS LOOKING FOR PRESSURE CARE PRODUCTS Having successfully trialled its new range of pressure care equipment in various care settings, Airospring Medical has now launched its new collection to the market. Describing the range as “pressure relieving equipment but with a difference,” the company’s range of pressure relieving cushions and mattress toppers have been created with 3D spacer fabrics rather than foam. Emphasising that the high-tech fabric provides an effective and breathable form of pressure relief, the products feature microclimate technology, promoting the dissipation of heat and perspiration. In addition, it has extended the collection with the addition of a dementia-friendly range of cushions, incorporating Airospring’s unique material but featuring a standard household cushion design so as not to look overly clinical and daunting for those with dementia. Available in a range of different contrasting colours which can be picked to contrast against a piece furniture to help those with dementia identify where to sit down, the range comes in a low, medium and high-risk option. According to the company, the pressure relief cushions distribute weight and allow maximum airflow, providing benefits to the skin through creating the microclimate, and have been tested in care facilities. For retailers looking to offer new pressure care options to the hospital and care home sectors, Airospring’s new range could prove particularly attractive. www.airospring.co.uk

Multifunction stabiliser helps maintain mobility A new Multifunction Forehead Stabiliser is the latest addition to Gel Ovations’ growing Sta-Rite range, combining a headrest and multi-adjustable Forehead Stabiliser. Suitable for a range of applications, including wheelchairs, shower chairs and paediatric functional seating, the unit has been designed to provide users with ‘head drop’ with a higher level of comfort and skin protection compared to traditional forehead straps. According to Gel Ovations, the cranial equilibrium maintained by the unit makes the Sta-Rite unit particularly suitable for users who use eye controls to operate their computers and smart devices. Constructed from high-strength lightweight aluminium alloy, the Forehead Stabiliser incorporates the company’s Dimensional Gel Padding for added support and comfort, says the company. The aid comes in a choice of three standard headrest sizes, from 10 inches to 14 inches and also has adaptors available to enable the unit to be retrofitted to an existing headrest. www.gelovationseurope.com


‘Contemporary chic’ new cane collection Walking stick specialist Classic Canes is to launch a collection of adjustable walking sticks and folding canes in a range of exclusive new patterns. The derby-handled canes will feature colourful ‘animal friends’ patterns including crazy cats, forest friends, flamingos and butterflies, whilst new folding canes will be available in the ‘contemporary chic’ patterns of skulls, bats at night and swallows. Discussing the motivation behind the modern and fresh designs, Charlotte Gillan, Managing Director of Classic Canes, explained: “Fashions change in walking sticks, as with most accessories, and it is important Classic Canes remains at the forefront of walking stick design. “Younger walking stick users are demanding more contemporary patterns, often with a sense of fun to them, and it is important that our stockists have products to offer that are different to the standard walking stick patterns seen everywhere. “We have designed patterns that people will find charming and enjoy giving as gifts as well as adding to their own cane collections. A stylish cane is a great morale boost and something no walking stick user should have to be without.” www.classiccanes.co.uk

NEW DESIGNS FOR AUTUMN/WINTER 2019 The Pharmacy Show: Stand PB70 or please contact us for our trade catalogue: www.classiccanes.co.uk

www.thiis.co.uk | 25


new to the market

To prove a SMOOV move for retailers? Invacare has launched its SMOOV One power assist device, a sleek, compact new model from power addon brand Alber. Offering additional power and performance to active wheelchair users, the power add-on provides a top speed of 10 km/h and has a powerful drive wheel capable of travelling up to a 20km distance. Capable of maintaining a constant

speed, the SMOOV One can travel over most types of surfaces confirmed Invacare, including maintaining a constant speed up slopes of 16 percent. Weighing 7.2kg, the device has been designed to be quick & easy to attach to a manual wheelchair says the company, as well as being convenient to transport with an integrated carry handle.

The SMOOV One is operated by a Bluetooth hand control unit that attaches to the chair and features hands-free dynamic driving, with a flexible 360-degree drive wheel providing extra power when needed. Additionally, the power add-on includes a USB-C socket for charging purposes. www.invacare.co.uk

A GOOD RETAIL FIT? Ontex Global has launched a new range of low-waist underwear capable of absorbing eight times its own weight which has been designe to offer women discretion and comfort. Boasting an innovative hipster shape the company says works with any outfit, Ontex’s Intime range uses a thin core and seamless fit, using a cotton-like fabric to look and feel like regular underwear. The range’s double anti-leak barriers are made up of anti-leak cuffs and combined with soft waterproof side elastics to form a cup shape, fitting securely to the body to provide maximum

26 | www.thiis.co.uk

protection against leakage. In addition, the Intime underwear provides advanced odour control and uses dry-wear technology, delivering 10 hours of freshness. “We recognise the emotional challenge women face when they move from liners to pads and want to make this transition as smooth as possible,” commented Alex Shaw, Marketing Manager for the UK and Ireland for Ontex Global. “With Intime, women will have discretion, comfort and flexibility and won’t feel like they are wearing incontinence pads.” www.ontexglobal.com


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new to the team

Senior lifts leader eyes more mobility contracts National lift specialist Pickerings Lifts has strengthened its leadership team with the selection of Neil Marsden as its new Service Sales and Marketing Director. Bringing a significant amount of marketing and sales management experience to the role, Neil will be tasked with increasing brand awareness and securing more service contracts, including within the mobility industry. Currently servicing 3,000 mobility units across the UK, Pickerings Lifts works with a number of public and private sector customers, including local authorities, the NHS, care homes and businesses, to supply, install, repair and maintain lifts, hoists, medical beds and a range of other mobility products. www.pickeringslifts.co.uk

JOHN PRESTON BRINGS IN NEW PRODUCT SPECIALIST

Having spent four years in marketing and branding roles within the construction and technology industries, Lauren Fowles has joined Stiltz Homelifts as its new junior brand marketing manager. She will help the domestic lift manufacturer manage its digital marketing and social media, alongside promoting its North American side of the business. Stiltz Homelifts Head of Marketing Yola Mealing commented: “As our business has grown so has our need to support central, dealer and export marketing. I’m very excited about Lauren’s appointment as it will enable me to implement the many marketing initiatives I have planned for the UK and further afield. “Having Lauren join the Stiltz marketing department perfectly complements the existing paid search, digital marketing and graphic design colleagues already in the team.”

Expanding its team on the road, John Preston Healthcare has appointed Francis McClorey as a new product specialist covering Northern and southern Ireland. With a breadth of expertise, benefitting from both John Preston Healthcare’s in-house training and in-depth training from manufacturers, Francis’ focus will be on manual wheelchairs, powerchairs, special needs buggies and prams, wheelchair ramps and mobility scooters. Strengthening the company’s salesforce, he will work with both private customers and healthcare professionals, supplying solutions tailored to meet users’ need.

www.stiltz.co.uk

www.johnpreston.co.uk

SPECIALIST RAISES STILTZ’ MARKETING CAPACITY

New CEO to join Etac Swedish mobility and patient handling manufacturer Etac has announced Fredrik Dalborg will join the company in 2020 as its new CEO. Currently the CEO of blood diagnostics firm Boule Diagnostics, Fredrik has experience working in a number of medical technology companies in different regions, where he has held business development, sales and business unit management roles.

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Nora Larssen, the Chair of Etac, commented: “The Board is convinced that Fredrik Dalborg has a strong background to lead Etac in the next phase of growing the company. He has extensive experience from the medtech industry, has worked in a global setting for 20 years based out of Europe as well as the US and Asia and he has solid experience driving growth.” www.etac.com


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pick of the month

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Karen Sheppard, Managing Director of People First Mobility

Pick of the month: Adjustable Bath Seat from Roma Medical

Available from a few suppliers, with this version being from Roma Medical (product code 4245), the adjustable bath seat is a useful aid for someone who needs help to get into the bath a little easier. “It is chrome-plated steel construction with a moulded clip-on seat and the width can be adjusted by four small thumbscrews to fit most bath sizes. “It is suspended in the bath and it can be used by just stepping into the bath using any available rail for assistance, then using your arms and legs for support to lower yourself down onto the bath seat to sit and wash. “Ideal also for using a shower above the bath, the bath boards that go over the bath cause water to run off the sides and onto the floor, whereas, with this one being suspended into the bath, it means the water can run into the bath. “Able to be easily cleaned with a damp cloth or antibacterial wipe, it is a useful addition to the showroom.

www.peoplefirstmobility.co.uk

Elaine Ferguson, Mobility Services Manager of Fortuna Mobility

Pick of the month: Portable Smart Rising Seat from SitnStand

For those that need a bit of help standing up, the SitnStand is perfect - a clever product that has been developed to help the user maintain their independence and remove the worry of trying to get to their feet unaided. “This portable smart rising seat is suitable for any style of chair, armchair or sofa, and works via a convenient handset that gently inflates the seat pad, easing the user into an upright position when they wish to stand. There are four levels of inflation which ensure that the process from sitting to standing is smooth and achieved without the need to stretch or jerk the body. And sitting back down again is just as easy – simply lean against the inflated seat and press the handset to be lowered back into a sitting position. “Our customers like this product not just for its efficiency, but also because – unlike conventional seats - it’s portable, lightweight (just 3kg), and can be neatly folded and packed away in the easy to carry zip-up case. So, whether they’re visiting a friend, taking a holiday, or just going out for a meal, they can take their SitnStand with them and enjoy greater freedom!

www.fortunamobility.com

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www.thiis.co.uk | 31


pick of the month

James Gargan, Commercial Director of Beechfield Healthcare

Pick of the month: Handicare 1100 stairlift from Handicare

Leveraging over 130 years of experience, Handicare have produced a new stairlift which steals the title as the slimmest straight stairlift on the market. “The Handicare 1100 is strong yet super slim, meaning it obscures less of your stairs as the compact rail can be placed so close to the wall. The Handicare 1100 also features folding footrests, armrests and a folding seat which saves even more space when the stairlift is not in use. “The narrow design has a toothless rack that requires no oil or grease so it can be wiped clean safely. The seat will swivel at the top landing, making sure you can get on and off the stairlift easily and safely and it comes with standard safety sensors that will stop the stairlift in case of obstruction. “One of the best attributes of the Handicare 1100 is that it can be very simply upgraded in the future should the users’ needs change. This essentially makes the stairlift the only future proof stairlift on the market, allowing it to adapt to your users’ needs as they change. “With all of the above combined, the Handicare 1100 is the perfect stairlift to fit even the narrowest of staircases, all coming with the reliability for which Handicare have become synonymous.

www.beechfieldhealthcare.ie

Darren Macey, Business Development Manager for Lifestyle & Mobility

Pick of the month: Permobil F5 VS from Permobil

When the competition talks about specialist products, you normally hear them talk about tilt in space, pressure seating, high low lifters. To be honest, so did we. Well, that all changed a few years ago when we were introduced to the ultimate specialist product on the market… the Permobil chairs. “Our view of a specialist product all changed when General Manager Gordon Cunningham of Permobil UK decided to hand pick a few elite dealers to partner up with. “They have recently launched the new version of Permobil F5 VS and it comes with gesture lights, a beautifully designed base, active reach technology and smart actuators which allows the end-user to have multiple seating memory functions, transforming their position by one push of a button. “Users can go from a sitting position to a full standing position in seconds and with the new Corpus seating and StretchAir fabric, they can do that in absolute comfort. This is why Lifestyle and Mobility has chosen the Permobil F5 VS to be its product of the month.

www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk

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To start referring your stairlift, bathing and homelift leads, or to find out more information, give us a call!

FREEPHONE

0800 620 0826

team@your-companion.com

www.your-companion.com


pick of the month

Ceri Dixon, Marketing Manager of Ableworld

Pick of the month: Picture Dial Telephone from Able2

Alastair Gibbs, Managing Director of TPG DisableAids

Pick of the month: Mobility carrier from TriLift

For this month’s pick of the month, I have chosen the innovative scooter lift from TriLift. “On many occasions, we assess clients for a suitable scooter or power chair that will suit their stated needs and their physical dimensions, only to find that they will often go for a smaller, lighter product so that they can load it in the car. “This is not only against our advice on the product but is also very frustrating when you know they will be disappointed in the performance of the scooter and, ultimately, end up having to purchase again to have the correct mobility device. “For this reason, we now offer the Trilift as a solution to transporting the appropriate sized scooter. “It has the added benefit that it does not take up space within the luggage area in the car and therefore allows shopping trips to be completed and no lifting of any part of the scooter is required.

www.tpg-disableaids.co.uk

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Our product of the month is the Picture Dial Telephone. This is a great product which is proving to be a great help for our customers. Our aim is to help people remain independent for longer and products like this are ideal. It allows customers to stay in touch with friends and family easily. “The telephone has six buttons which can be programmed with a telephone number and a picture so customers simply click on the picture of the person they want to call - no numbers to type or remember, just quick and simple. “It features large, easy to read number buttons, should the user need to dial a number, and also allows 10 telephone numbers to be saved as speed dial options. “Also, it features an adjustable, very loud ring of 90dB and an adjustable receiver volume to 40dB “Additionally, the telephone also has a flashing light for incoming calls and is hearing aid compatible. “We understand many customers may feel isolated especially coming into the winter months and this product is fantastic for helping them stay in touch with their loved ones.

www.ableworld.co.uk


retailer spotlight

Originally entering the market to sell to mobility retailers, Fortuna now has London’s largest showroom

THE FORTUNA FORMULA TO CONSULTATIVE RETAIL In theory, a consultative approach to mobility retail sounds like a relatively simple concept – find out about a customer and then introduce products based on their requirements. Speaking with Fortuna Mobility’s Director Seb Bavetta and Mobility Services Manager Elaine Ferguson, the pair reveal that the reality of operating a truly consultative retail model is far more complex than what meets the eye. The retail duo discusses the importance of having the right portfolio, investing in expertise and developing valuable long-term relationships. 36 | www.thiis.co.uk


Fortuna says its fortunes now lay in increasing its outreach activity with its expert staff

B

ased in Enfield and boasting London’s largest showroom, Fortuna Mobility is a division of its parent company Fortuna Healthcare, a distributor of nonpharmaceutical OTCs to pharmacies founded by Seb and his two brothers in 1995. Growing Fortuna Healthcare substantially over 15 years, it was not until 2010 when exploring new retail channels that the brothers saw an opportunity to enter the mobility market. “We had some products at the time we thought we could sell through mobility shops so in 2010, my brother Julian spent the day going around different mobility retailers, looking for a sales opportunity,” explained Seb. “After visiting a number of mobility shops, Julian came back and said he thought there was a real opportunity for us to do something in the market.” Setting up its mobility showroom in a section of Fortuna Healthcare’s sizable premises in 2011, the inexperienced mobility retailer started off slowly until fortune struck when the company secured the services of Elaine, an industry professional bringing 20 years of experience to the fledgling company. “We had some space in the building

“Advice and guidance are terms that get bandied about a lot in the industry but we see a lot of people here, often internet casualties, where people have been sold the wrong equipment” ELAINE FERGUSON

at that point so Julian bought some products in and set it up but we didn’t really know the market,” continued Seb. “After about six months, we had been selling a trickle of items but we were fortunate enough to find Elaine, who came in and professionalised the mobility side of our operations.” Spearheaded by the industry veteran, Fortuna Mobility has flourished over the years, outgrowing the one room it started life in and now operating out of a considerable section of the Fortuna building, with more staff and an eye-watering number of products. Having only partially been involved with the company alongside his own career, Seb decided the time had come for a career change 18 months ago and joined Elaine in Fortuna

Mobility. A SHIFT IN THE MOBILITY MARKET Having been at the helm of Fortuna Mobility for almost a decade, Elaine has seen a shift in the mobility market over the years, with increasing competition in the more ‘lifestyle’ end of the market. “The market has certainly shifted over the years and I think that is the case in most industries – it is more competitive and there is more choice,” she commented. “I think the mobility market has certainly moved more into the mainstream and for us, we see massive potential in specialising into more complex equipment.” Keen to distance itself from competing in the increasingly price-

www.thiis.co.uk | 37


retailer spotlight driven market of mainstream mobility products, the company decided to drilldown on its customer service offering, focusing on more bespoke specialist ranges in a bid to separate itself in the market. “Rather than selling one product to a customer and never seeing them again, we wanted to offer a more holistic, long-term service,” said Elaine. “Instead, we wanted to work with customers over a longer period, providing solutions over time to meet their developing needs.” The strategy of building longterm relationships with customers is certainly not a new one, however, how to achieve such a thing is a different kettle of fish. “We wanted to avoid simply boxshifting,” said Seb. “Instead, we would bring different solutions based on what people need, rather than the most expensive solution or the one that affords us the best margin. “Our model is to give people a choice and take them through the pros and cons of the options available to them. Essentially, we see this far more as a consultative process, rather than the traditional sales process.” THE CONSULTATIVE FORMULA By no means the first mobility company to state it takes a consultative approach to mobility retail, Fortuna Mobility is aiming to take this model one step further, says Seb. “We see Fortuna Mobility developing into an almost hybrid model, part retail and part health professional,” he said. “There is a gap between healthcare professionals’ medical knowledge and knowledge of all the different equipment and solutions on the market. With so many new innovations out there – we feel that we can help bridge this gap.” On paper, it sounds like a pretty simple task to match different products based on customer needs, however, speaking with the pair, it quickly becomes clear that to effectively and consistently deliver this is no small feat. “Advice and guidance are terms that

38 | www.thiis.co.uk

With over 1,000 lines available in its showroom, the company stresses its wide range is vital to offering a consultative service

get bandied about a lot in the industry but we see a lot of people here, often internet casualties, where people have been sold the wrong equipment, which has been detrimental to their health and bank balance,” said Elaine. “I believe the mobility industry really has a duty of care to customers and it needs to distinguish itself as professional, to really meet the needs of customers and raise the profile of retailers in the eyes of healthcare professionals.” Driven by the desire to deliver a mobility retail model that aligns itself with the healthcare industry it operates in, Fortuna Mobility has cultivated a consultative retail formula, which can be distilled into three key components. THE THREE CONSULTATIVE COMPONENTS Going beyond the generic marketing terms promoting advice and guidance often seen in the industry, Seb and Elaine detailed three equally essential components integral to delivering a consultative retail formula; product choice, employee expertise, and close collaboration. Product choice Thanks to Fortuna’s giant, 22,000 sq ft on-site warehouse, the company

boasts one of the most extensive product portfolios in the industry, stocking over 1,000 lines of products available for customers and healthcare professionals to view and try out at its showroom. According to Fortuna’s mobility duo, the extensive range of mobility lines enables the company to introduce a plethora of solutions to customers to help meet a wide variety of needs. “One of our taglines is we offer everything from slippers to stairlifts and everything in-between,” said Elaine. “Once we have an idea of a customer and their needs, we are able to show a range of products and services that could help improve their lives and often, they find out about aids they did not know existed.” To that end, the company is always on the lookout to introduce more products to its offering says Fortuna’s Mobility Services Manager. “Finding new products is one of the most important areas of our business and we believe in supplying high quality innovation,” she emphasised. “I think it is really important as a retailer and as an industry to embrace change and innovation when it can benefit customers.” The company has recently started a new partnership with CareFlex


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retailer spotlight confirmed Seb, alongside taking on new and unique entrants to the mobility market, including Trilift, Sit’n’Stand, Armon and HappyLegs. “What we are looking for are higher value, slightly unusual and more specialised products that lend themselves to our consultative business model,” he said. “It is not just ‘there’s the product, get it through the till and get the customer on their way,’ but rather it’s about spending the time to talk to customers, let them try out the products and receive added value through our expertise and service.”

their condition and their environment, then we try to fit in products around that.” Closely resembling the process carried out by occupational therapists who work with clients, it is no surprise both of Fortuna’s mobility leaders have experience and backgrounds in the healthcare industry. “I am a healthcare professional myself and had been working in the NHS for 30 years as a doctor,” said Seb. “So, this consultative approach to retail is something that naturally fits in with the way I have worked with

“We are very much moving away from seeing our target area as being Enfield and instead, focusing on the entirety of the South East of England” SEB BAVETTA

Employee expertise Being able to offer a substantial range of different solutions is only as effective as the team’s ability to discern what products will best meet a customer’s needs, points out Elaine. Stressing that the second component of its consultative model is highly trained staff, the company ensures staff have enough knowledge on different conditions to be able to match products to a customer’s needs, with the majority of its team being qualified as Disabled Living Foundation Trusted Assessors. “We need our staff to gain a lot of experience, both in terms of products and the conditions that our customers have, so we make sure our training program is very robust, with staff completing DLF training, working alongside and shadowing experienced members of staff for a long period, as well as undergoing continuous product training and awareness,” described Elaine. “We train staff not to actually sell anything but to solve problems instead, finding out needs and introducing solutions. It all starts with getting to know the person, their lives,

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patients before coming on board with Fortuna.” Additionally, before joining Fortuna, Elaine had been in mobility for over 20 years as a specialist working with OTs in seating and other equipment, doing joint visits and a variety of activities in the more specialist end of the mobility market. It has led to the mobility retailer focusing on staff building their knowledge on conditions, as well as products, in order to match the two together, and it is a theme that runs throughout its retail operations, both offline and online. The company has created pages on its newly launched website dedicated to specific medical conditions that are common amongst people that require mobility assistance, such as Parkinson’s and Multiple Sclerosis – an initiative that feeds directly into Seb’s medical background. “We have six conditions featured so far but eventually, we will have pages on 30 or 40 conditions, with the idea being that each condition’s page will include useful information highlighting organisations and charities that can provide support, useful healthcare

advice, as well as signposting equipment that readers may not be aware of,” outlined the Fortuna Mobility director. “There will be some people that know exactly what they need, however, there are a lot of people who may only have just found themselves in a position of needing equipment, such as someone who has had a stroke. They often will not know what solutions are available and what could help them. “Again, it is all about framing our retail operations around the person and simply showcasing the solutions that are out there in a way that has no pressure.” Beyond having good knowledge of products and conditions however, Elaine says that staff need to have the necessary care and empathy to get customers to open up about their needs - a tricky task in situations where customers do not wish to admit to themselves, let alone a retail assistant, that they need help. “We work with a lot of families who have great difficulty convincing their elderly family members who have mobility and health needs to seek or accept help,” she noted. “We understand people are naturally wary when it comes to these products so we put a lot of effort into making the retail experience as relaxing and pleasurable as possible, with comfortable seating, biscuits, cups of tea, and importantly, time. “It is really not uncommon for people to spend upwards of three hours with us and we have designed our retail model with that in mind, giving us the time necessary to find out what we can do to help customers.” Understanding that introducing bigger ticket items straight of the bat to consumers can be overwhelming, it ensures it has a good range of ADLs to ease customers in to the world of mobility. “We try to make sure there are products that are less intimidating that will first catch people’s eyes, such as the shoes and slippers, which people do not necessarily associate with mobility and independent living,” continued Elaine.


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retailer spotlight “This gives family members and us the chance to introduce them gradually to some of the more complex products in such a way as to feel a bit more normal and natural.” Close collaboration Key to successfully delivering the other two components and offering a truly consultative retail model is a close collaboration, working and engaging with a range of different players in the industry. “We work with various segments of the market, including healthcare professionals, local authorities, care homes, domiciliary care agencies and charities including Age UK Enfield, as well as with our suppliers,” maintained Elaine. “It allows us to remain informed about the needs of our customers and the community, as well as sharing valuable information to those organisations and individuals working with our customers in the community. “Again, it is about taking a holistic approach to the way we work and it is these strong relationships with different parties that have allowed Fortuna Mobility to grow as it has.” In addition to the retailer’s generous warehouse, Fortuna Mobility also has a five-room training suite which it uses to host sessions and events for healthcare professionals to learn more about mobility equipment. “Healthcare professionals in and around London who work in the community and in adult social care are often extremely busy and struggle to attend an all-day event such as the OT Show. It means they miss out on the opportunity to see and get handson with products,” continued Elaine. “I think that is why we have noticed that free local training where they can find out more about solutions and how they can be used to meet different needs is such an important thing for OTs. We often have OTs contact us enquiring about our free product training and the events we host are always very well attended. We are very happy to enhance product knowledge and awareness within our wider healthcare community.” According to Elaine, the training

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Staff expertise is a key component of its retail approach, with most completing the DLF’s Trusted Assessor training

sessions offer a range of benefits to the company, enabling it to establish a good reputation with healthcare professionals, raise awareness of its extensive products and services, as well as the opportunity to learn from the healthcare professionals attending the events. “It is very much a win-win and because the OT community is so close-knit, we find they tell other healthcare professionals, which leads to more OTs finding out about us,” she added. “It has also been a really effective way to build our customer base, with healthcare professionals often signposting people to us.” With healthcare professionals often being cited as having a slight scepticism when working with retailers, Elaine stresses that the company has only been able to achieve building these valuable relationships through its consultative, advice-led retail approach. “It has taken a long time for us to build trust with the adult social services and healthcare professionals we work with to prove that we are here to help and prove you can prioritise helping people whilst still being a successful business,” expressed Elaine. “It takes time, effort and consistency and because we have put that work in, we have a lot of repeat customers

from care homes, plus healthcare professionals and more.” Helping to both develop and promote the company’s product portfolio and expertise to important healthcare professionals, the collaboration component helps bring its retail offering to its local community. “We have that ability to cross boundaries by integrating numerous services, rather than just selling a hoist. We aim to offer the whole package of training, testing and servicing,” stated Seb. “We see ourselves as joining the dots between all the different parties in the healthcare sector and we can’t stress how important it is as a mobility retailer to work with other partners within your community, both locally and further afield.” TAKING THE FORMULA FURTHER After spending the past nine years cultivating and refining its model, Fortuna Mobility’s Seb and Elaine are now at the beginning of taking the Fortuna Mobility offering wider. “We are very much moving away from seeing our target area as being Enfield and instead, focusing on the entirety of the South East of England by sending out experts to do demonstrations and joint assessments,” highlighted Seb. “It is something we have already


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retailer spotlight started doing across all of London and requires us to send out a Trusted Assessor who has the training and knowledge needed to spend the time speaking with people and coming up with solutions,” said Elaine. “We make sure the same consultative model is applied and it is one of the main reasons we are BHTA-members, ensuring we uphold their Code of Practice.” Having enjoyed significant growth in its Enfield premises, there is a natural question of whether more stores are on the way, however, for Seb, he does not envisage a Fortuna Mobility on every corner. “In the long term, we may look to establish other outlets but I do not see a model of multiple small branches,” he reflected. “When we do decide to branch out, it will be a limited number of larger stores, however, there is a still a huge amount of scope to grow within our current premises whilst developing our outreach model.” One of the areas it is keen to

“What we are looking for are higher value, slightly unusual and more specialised products” SEB BAVETTA

continue growing within its Enfield base is its training sessions, working with manufacturers in the industry to help educate more healthcare professionals that may be unaware of the different solutions available on the market. “Despite having worked in the NHS for 30 years as a doctor, I knew surprisingly little in regards to just how many different mobility solutions exist on the market. Like me, there are a lot of healthcare professionals who aren’t aware of what there is out there that we would like to reach,” said Seb. “We would like to do more conferences in collaboration with manufacturers and we would really welcome any manufacturers interested in working with us to

reach healthcare professionals in the London area to get in contact with us. “We wouldn’t be looking to charge for these events, as for us it’s a great opportunity to educate healthcare professionals and our own staff, provide suppliers with a platform, as well as raise Fortuna Mobility’s own profile and awareness.” Built on its consultative approach, Elaine and Seb are confident that Fortuna Mobility has the strong foundations needed to successfully expand its presence in the South East, with each carefully crafted component of a retail formula helping it stand out in an ever more competitive retail landscape. www.fortunamobility.com

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meet…

MEET… THOMAS OWENS, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF ESSENTIAL HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS WHAT IS ESSENTIAL HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS? An innovative, integrated, healthcare provider, dedicated to increasing the quality and efficiency of all care environments. Essential provides a range of products and care solutions, and is committed to developing and delivering support surface solutions to UK healthcare providers and professionals, including the NHS and Care Homes. We aim to become the best provider in the UK.

Essential is a forward-thinking specification builder focused on developing products and solutions. WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THE COMPANY? I established Essential because I wanted to make a measurable difference, to improve patient care, healthcare environments and care performance, and to demonstrate better and measurable patient outcomes to deliver better long-term results. We provide and develop the best products, work on the patient pathway together with our customers and believe in long-term partnerships to gain long-term results. WHAT DOES YOUR POSITION INVOLVE? Having worked across every level in the industry – from delivery driver to director, I feel extremely well placed to lead my team here at Essential. I am still completely hands-on and I am never afraid to get my hands dirty, from making a brew to picking up a mop from time-to-time. However, my main focus is on the strategic direction and growth of the business. I’m heavily involved in product development and business development to help grow and nurture our partnerships with the NHS. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love making things happen. I have always been driven and so

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creating plans, developing products and seeing them come to life and make a difference to patient care, is the ultimate reward. I feel incredibly lucky to love what I do, and to work in an industry that I am truly passionate about. I also love to inspire people and watch the team I have grown, flourish. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL CAREER? Setting up the business was a huge challenge. My focus is on growing relationships with the right partners and supply chain. I have always focused on long term gains and growth to create a sustainable business and be a reputable supplier of premium products for years to come. Also building the team was a challenge. It was vital that I had the right people around me and I am now surrounded by great experience, great characters and great talent. WHAT IS YOUR PROUDEST PROFESSIONAL MOMENT? Launching Essential, working hard and watching it flourish to become what it is today. WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU’VE SEEN IN THE INDUSTRY OVER THE YEARS? New entrants focused on driving procurement based on price have created more competition. I have also seen a really slow rate of innovation in recent years.


IF YOU COULD BRING ONE NEW INNOVATION TO THE MARKET, WHAT WOULD IT BE? At Essential we’re always innovating and developing new, premium products. We’re very excited to be at prototype stage on a new product under our own IPM brand, which we believe to be a real innovation, so watch this space. Our aim is to help eliminate pressure ulcers and improve patient care and this will work towards that.

QUICK-FIRE QUESTIONS DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN THREE WORDS Entrepreneurial, driven, passionate WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE SONG? ‘You’ve Got the Love’ by Candi Staton

IF YOU COULD HAVE A SUPERPOWER, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Time Travel FAVOURITE PLACE IN THE WORLD? The Italian lakes, especially Lake Como

WHAT WAS THE LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? War Dogs

WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK? Spending time with my family. I’m also passionate about property development and I’m a motorsport fanatic. IF YOU HAD TO DO ANY OTHER JOB IN THE WORLD, WHAT WOULD IT BE? A Formula One racing driver! www.essential-healthcare.com

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TH UGHTS…

TRADE

“WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SUPPLIERS DO MORE OF TO HELP SUPPORT THEIR RETAILERS?”

Yvonne Malone Managing Director of H&M Health & Mobility

We have noticed a decline in sales rep visits from our suppliers and one of our major suppliers doesn’t actually have a rep for our area. “In order to compete with large, online organisations, we would like more own-branded products as our purchase price can often be more than our suppliers are selling direct to the public online. We would obviously prefer our suppliers not to sell direct to the public at such low prices in order for us to be competitive but unfortunately this trend is increasing. “We would like to work on joint marketing activities that would promote our suppliers and ourselves as being important to our local community.

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Lauren Bromfield Director of Classic Mobility

The thing we value the most from suppliers is accessible information which can be downloaded and printed or emailed to our customers, from sales sheets to user guides. It really helps when the information is readily available, as we never know what the next customer may be looking for! “Good quality retail packaging on smaller items enables us to display the products appropriately, which in turn, increases the chances of the customer finding the items they require. For the larger items, posters and roller banners enable us to show more information regarding the products. Good point of sale material supports us to give the customer information to assist them in their decision making. “Some suppliers do a great job of providing items to assist with display needs, for example, branded hooks for use on the slatted wall boards. I think this makes the display look more professional and I would love to see more suppliers offering these types of materials.

www.classicmobility.org.uk

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

48 | www.thiis.co.uk


Katy Brown Managing Director of Scotgate Mobility

Please, please invest in some great lifestyle photography so that we can advertise and promote your products in the local press, on our website and in social media. “For example, I have good links with editors and would like to send them regular news, but mobility products often look so boring! Nobody wants to look at a studio shot – the product needs to be shown in use by a person, in a home or outside with an attractive background. “Once you have good photography, the rest follows: Provide retail packaging for all products, preferably with an option to hang up on euro-hooks. Produce more individual product leaflets so that we can give people the information they need, but with space to add our own information and branding. “Produce a few more posters with lifestyle photography too – this will help us to keep our displays up to date and fresh. The people who do this well are Classic Canes and Cosyfeet.

www.scotgatemobility.co.uk

Carl Drake Managing Director of Rise Furniture & Mobility

Suppliers should engage with their retailers better and improve product training. Too often, retail staff fall into sales without any previous experience. Mobility products are very specialist. Without adequate product training or understanding the needs of the customer, products can easily be mis-sold. This gives our industry a bad name. But it’s the customer that suffers. I’ve lost count how many customers I see, having previously bought a recliner from a ‘High Street’ furniture store, without ever being assessed or measured for the chair for example. After rent and stock, marketing spend is one of the biggest outlays for any independent retailer. “If a manufacturer / supplier wants his reseller to succeed, does it not make sense to support them with their marketing in any way they can? It’s win-win. “Suppliers get too hung up on their brand, relying on retailers to promote their products, yet have no control over creative or advertising placement. Suppliers have five or six figure marketing budgets, so why do they think giving a retailer a couple of hundred pounds for a single advert will succeed? “Wouldn’t it be better all-round if they got more involved with their resellers marketing efforts to help them promote their brand products?

www.risemobility.co.uk

John Payne Managing Director of Kent Mobility

My feeling is some of the marketing that is offered is very good and is better than the product that is being advertised. Things can always go wrong but we expect a quick response when this happens - not left days or sometimes weeks with no help. “We expect value for money for our customers, not substandard fittings. And expect our area sales manager to have full knowledge of the products offered by the company that they are employed by, as well as their help to sort out any problems that arise. “Also, we have not got a level playing field when it comes to the purchasing cost. With all the problems that bricks and mortar have, with huge rises in running cost in the high street, the current way that some importers treat the retail market will drive the retail trade away to source their own products. “We have started to see this happening and I believe the importers / manufacturers need a bit of a wakeup call. I came out of the motor trade some years ago, where I worked was a British Leyland garage, if anyone can remember that far back… products were shoddily built, overpriced, with useless back up and looked what happen to them. “My feeling is that adverting is not the answer, if the product is not reliable, the lesson is, get the product right then the products will sell themselves. www.kentmobility.co.uk

www.thiis.co.uk | 49


OT perspective

WHAT’S THE OCCASION? An Occupational Therapist’s perspective on helping customers choose the right wheelchairs for occasional use…

I

’ve written extensively about walking aids in the past and I’m a firm believer in them to preserve as much independence and autonomy as possible. But sometimes, walking aids just don’t do the job and that’s when wheelchairs come into the conversation. In previous editions, I’ve spoken about how to select wheelchairs, and this time I want to focus on the “occasional use” wheelchair. You see, just because a client may need a wheelchair some of the time, that does not mean that they are confined to it – for example, if a client has a condition like Spina Bifida, they may struggle with long distances but may not be dependent on a wheelchair for every part of their day. The issue that those who occasionally need a wheelchair have come across is the struggle to be eligible for wheelchair funding through the NHS – if they’re not deemed to be reliant on it, then funding is harder to come by. Unfortunately, this has led a lot of people to head online to search for the most cost-effective solution, and if you’ve ever Googled “private purchase wheelchair,” you’ll know that it’s a minefield, with a lot of results and plenty of unsuitable products displayed on the search results page. There is a benefit to jumping onto Google though – typing in “private purchase wheelchair” will lead you to the Disabled Living Foundation, who provide a comprehensive and easyto-navigate list of what to consider – you can find this here: www.dlf.org. uk/factsheets/manual-wheelchairs

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The truth is that, unless you know exactly what you require, wheelchairs should not be purchased online, for all sorts of reasons - not least the fact that an incorrect wheelchair can actually make a condition or medical problem worse. So, if Google isn’t the right place to go, then the next step is into a shop, which is where you can come into your own and the question turns to, which equipment is right for your customer? The presupposition for the purposes of this article is the client has no cognitive impairment and has a physical impairment that is mild or moderate and may or may not fluctuate. WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN ASSISTING A CLIENT WITH CHOOSING A WHEELCHAIR: Can the client sit in the chair and propel themselves? They may be able to walk a little and want a chair for around the home but ultimately, if the client cannot wheel themselves around the shop, its likely they would not manage the wheelchair at home. If the client needs help, an attendant-propelled chair may be better (the chair with the smaller wheels). Again, the client needs to try the chair and then the person who

is most likely to propel them should wheel them around the shop. There is no point having a strong son or daughter wheel the patient around the shop if the carer who is likely to push the client around the home or outdoors is likely to struggle. It is also important to discuss the environment the client lives in at home. A great self-propelled wheelchair may be unsuitable if the client lives at the top of a steep hill, similarly, the same applies to attendant-propelled wheelchairs that mean a carer would struggle to safely support the patient and the chair up or down hills. If the attendant-propelled option is not suitable, perhaps an electric wheelchair is the next step. A quick drive around the shop however will not suffice. A road test around the shop car park, up and down the street and perhaps, if possible, a home visit and demonstration, should be provided to ensure the property is suitable for the wheelchair. YOU ALSO NEED TO CONSIDER ENVIRONMENT… Which environments does your client regularly find themselves in? Do they spend a lot of time at home or in a school or college? Where do they work? What tasks do they need to


complete most days? Do they travel regularly? What activities/hobbies do they have? At what point do they most regularly need a wheelchair? OTHER KEY THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING WHEELCHAIRS FOR OCCASIONAL USE: 1. VAT relief is available for disabled clients, terminally ill clients and those with diagnosed long-term conditions 2. Some organisations hire wheelchairs so purchase may not be necessary 3. Remember to consider both indoor and outdoor uses I hope you’ve found this useful! If you’ve got any other questions, please feel free to fire them over to stuart@promoting-independence. co.uk

STUART AND TEAM SUPPLIES SEATING EXPERTISE Stuart Barrow’s private OT practice Promoting Independence is to provide expert clinical input on a new range of specialist seating for Welsh manufacturer Recliners. The collaboration will see Stuart and his team provide clinical advice that will help shape the design and development of Recliners’ new ranges, from standard high back chairs to care chairs.

I hope these tips can help you at your next exhibition and remember, if you’d like to talk to me about exhibiting at OTAC, just give us a call on 02921 900402 or email stuart@ promoting-independence.co.uk. Also, there is an exciting new event we are aware of that is specifically for the trade coming soon. More will be revealed in next month’s edition.

OTAC Events 2019 SO LD

OTAC Reading

Wednesday 10 July th

Hilton Hotel

OTAC Southampton

Who else wants their product in front of HUNDREDS of occupational therapists? OTAC is the UK’s only FREE occupational therapy and adaptations conference, giving retailers valuable opportunities to showcase their products, and OTs crucial knowledge of products that can make their clients’ lives better? To talk to us about exhibiting at OTAC, call us now on: 02921 900 401 or email karen@promoting-independence.co.uk.

Enquire about 2020 dates today by contacting Karen

karen@promoting-independence.co.uk

Wednesday 11 September th

SO LD

Hilton Hotel Ageas Bowl

OTAC Newcastle Tuesday 22 October nd

SO LD

Hilton Newcastle Gateshead

OTAC Kent

Wednesday 6 November th

SO LD

Mercure Maidstone

OTAC Cardiff

Wednesday 4 December th

Llechwen Hall Hotel

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let’s get it clear…

24-HOUR POSITIONING – WHERE DO WE STAND? We know the importance of correct positioning whilst seated. People spend a lot of time lying down, so over time there’s been development of consideration and products for ‘in bed’ positioning under the banner of 24-hour positioning. However, we often see very little thought given to the role that standing should play in these 24 hours, especially for those with mobility challenges.

F

or those who spend the day sitting or lying, there is much concern about the health of the skin tissues as a result of staying in the same position for a long time. There have been reports over the years of people being moved from a bed with a good skin care mattress into a side chair without any tissue management properties, and where the more concentrated forces of gravity’s pull on the body’s mass through boney prominences of the skeleton are potentially more dangerous. Apart from tissue integrity issues, the effects of a long-term position in bed or in a seat are important. If the body’s skeleton is misaligned in either circumstance, and the individual cannot change position easily, then there is the risk of the prolonged effects

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of gravity leading to permanent deformities, contractures, and other elements detrimental to the health of the individual. The third aspect of 24-hour positioning is the importance of standing. Standing is important for optimizing many physiological functions managed within the torso, such as breathing, blood circulation, and bladder and bowel function. In addition, there are many anatomical benefits derived from standing, such as reduced contractures and spasticity, better range of motion, normal bone growth and joint development (particularly in children), and pressure relief for most of the body. The further benefits come from the psychosocial side, where communication, ability to speak, etc are so much easier

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

in the standing position, and the ability to interact eye-to-eye, means improved self-confidence and selfesteem. An additional benefit is that those who have the opportunity to stand during the day sleep better at night. Thus, it is important for those who are mobility-impaired, that an hour a day should be spent in the standing position. For the majority of people, an upright stander to support the individual will cover this need – for more complex challenges where being fully vertical is not appropriate, then prone (face down) or supine (face up) standers are more appropriate.


Introducing Our New Identity.

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20 years of THIIS

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE The Homecare Industry Information Service (THIIS) is 20 years old in 2019! For the last two decades, THIIS has been keeping the trade in the know with the latest news, views, products and jobs in the industry. Over 2019, THIIS is looking back at some of the interesting, impressive or surprising stories featured in past issues that have shaped the industry into what it is today.

INTERESTING DAYS… After joining Days Healthcare UK the previous year, THIIS interviewed General Manager Steve Holten in September 2009 to discover what changes the company was undergoing. According to Steve, Days was going through a shift in culture, focusing on the needs of its retail network, both in terms of product and service. Reporting software, showroom promotional tie-ins and a ‘Centre of Excellence’ scheme were all on the cards, suggested Steve. Less than 12-months on, Days Healthcare UK’s Irish-parent company DCC sold its entire Mobility & Rehabilitation business (including Days Healthcare UK) for £31 million to US company Patterson Medical. Drive Medical Ltd in 2014 then purchased certain product lines of Days Healthcare from Patterson Medical Limited, including mobility scooters, beds, wheelchairs and more. The company also acquired the manufacturing and distribution facility of Days Healthcare located at Bridgend, Wales.

“We need to work out what we need to do to provide our customers with the best package that they can in turn provide their customers.” STEVE HOLTEN, GENERAL MANAGER OF DAYS HEALTHCARE UK, IN SEPTEMBER 2009

54 | www.thiis.co.uk

S E P T

2009


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20 years of THIIS

S E P T

2011

DRIVE MEDICAL MAKES A SPLASH

September 2011 saw Drive Medical bring AquaJoy and its Premier Plus bathlift model into the fold, highlighting AquaJoy’s presence in the public sector as a key factor in the acquisition decision. Hugh Malone, Managing Director of AquaJoy, remained with Drive for seven years before parting ways with the company following an organisation restructure. In April 2019, THIIS covered Hugh’s return to the bathing sector with the start of a new company, H&M Bathlifts, and a new bathlift, the KANJO.

“The combination of their product excellence and strength in the U.K. government sector with our broad product portfolio will accelerate AquaJoy’s growth and the growth of Drive’s existing business.” HARVEY DIAMOND, CHAIRMAN AND CEO OF DRIVE MEDICAL, IN SEPTEMBER 2011

S E P T

2012

LEARNING A VALUABLE LESSON

Lyndon Duke, Founder of Your Mobility, sat down to discuss his business past and future in an open and candid article back in September 2012. Centring on the closure of his business Pressure Care Solutions, which had grown quickly by selling profiling beds and pressure care mattresses to care homes before running into cash flow problems, Lyndon told THIIS the experience had left him wary re-entering the care industry. It was at Rehacare however that he was introduced to the Shell Chair, a versatile care chair designed for portability and affordability. Taking a punt on the product and showing it to nursing homes, Lyndon quickly found nursing home owners were almost snapping his hand off for the product, convincing him the time was right to return to the market with his new proposition and his hard-earned experienced. Your Mobility is still going strong today, having introduced new chair ranges at the end of 2018. 56 | www.thiis.co.uk

S E P T

2013 OFFICE OF FAIR TRADING RULES ON ROMA September 2013 marked a substantial industry ruling by the OFT, when it found Roma Medical Aids Limited (Roma) and a number of online retailers had breached competition law. The OFT found Roma entered into arrangements with seven UKwide online retailers between 2011 and 2012 which prevented them from selling Roma-branded mobility scooters online and from advertising their prices online. Following the ruling, the OFT directed the parties involved to bring any remaining arrangements to an end.

“Mobility scooters in general can vary in price by over £1000 for the identical product and we have even seen price differences of £3000. It is therefore vitally important that consumers can use all the advantages of the internet to get a good price on this essential product and that innovative and efficient companies should not be prevented from winning new customers.” CAVENDISH ELITHORN, OFT SENIOR DIRECTOR, GOODS AND CONSUMER GROUP, IN SEPTEMBER 2013


20 years of THIIS

S E P T

2014

A ROCKY ROAD FOR THE MOBILITY ROADSHOW In September 2014, the Mobility Roadshow announced it was to return with an event in 2015 after taking a year off to review its strategy. In 2013, the organisers decided to try out a new location in Telford in a bid to attract a wider audience. The move proved ill-fated, with attendees noting the lack of a test track, forcing people to test drive on the road, as well as failure to increase visitor numbers. Its renewed 2015 Castle Donington show was encouraging, however, the 2016 event that followed was plagued with problems, from parking to access for disabled attendees. A promising 2017 event saw another venue change, this time to NAEC Stoneleigh. Later in 2017, Mobility Choice pulled the plug for good, citing competition from Motability’s One Big Day and smaller, regional shows as a key factor.

S E P T

2015

S E P T

2016

HANDICARE SELLS MOBILITY DIVISION In September 2015, THIIS reported that Handicare, one of the industry’s leading stairlift suppliers, had sold its mobility division to Sunrise Medical. Focusing on its stairlift and moving & handling business, the sale saw Handicare’s wheelchairs, scooters and the Gemino rollator range fall into Sunrise Medical’s product portfolio. The purchase followed the acquisition of Sunrise Medical by Handicare’s owners, Nordic Capital. Last year, Handicare’s UK turnover hit £62million – up 9 percent – whilst the Group’s total accessibility sales generated £189million, of which £148million was stairlifts.

“Sunrise Medical is the perfect home for continued successful development of our mobility business. Handicare Group will now have the opportunity to further focus on investing in and growing our remaining business segments.” JOHAN EK, HANDICARE’S CHAIRMAN AND ACTING CEO, IN SEPTEMBER 2015.

58 | www.thiis.co.uk

BLUE BADGE MOVES TO NEW CASTLE AFTER DRAGON ENCOUNTER The Blue Badge Company opened the doors to its new 12,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility after its founder Ellen Green appeared on Dragons’ Den and walked away from attractive offers made by the investors. Being featured on the popular BBC show significantly raised the company’s profile, leading to quick and rapid growth for the company, with its online sales leaping monthly, as well as securing distribution deals with large national retailers. To meet the growing demand, the company moved to a purpose-built workroom with a suite of offices, with plans to expand by building a second story.


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20 years of THIIS

AUGUST

2017 PIERCINGS, GRAFFITI AND A MOHICAN It is not often that the above is seen much in the mobility industry, however, in September 2017, one mobility retailer asked, why not? Aiming to challenge the perceptions relating to the mobility industry, Bristol-based Essential Aids launched its ‘Express Yourself’ awareness campaign. The campaign focused on JT, a 28-year-old graffiti artist JT who has a funky Mohican, a face full of piercings and Cerebral Palsy. Spraying the company’s building with some of his street art, the company hoped its colourful, thoughtprovoking project to change the way people think about disability.

“We’re aware that our customers are hugely diverse and we’re confident that this campaign highlights this fact.” ALEX WRENN, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF ESSENTIAL AIDS, IN SEPTEMBER 2017

AUGUST

2018

A CELEBRITY PARTNERSHIP Furniture manufacturer Celebrity and Van Os Medical announced an exclusive trading partnership this time last year, with Van Os introducing two riser recliners from Celebrity to its portfolio. Celebrity says it sought out the company to help it access the mobility market, with Van Os having the distribution expertise and service experience needed to meet mobility dealers’ needs for quick lead times.

“This partnership will see Van OS Medical invest in stock and spare parts to ensure that we meet tight deadlines and offer our customers the ability to access a bespoke piece of furniture on a level not before seen in the mobility industry.” SCOTT CRABTREE, SALES DIRECTOR OF VAN OS MEDICAL, IN SEPTEMBER 2018

60 | www.thiis.co.uk


training

DOING ANY TRAINING? If you are providing training for the trade, then simply send us the details of the course, the date, any costs, the venue and the contact for booking places and we’ll include it in the diary. Email info@thiis.co.uk with any details you have. SEPTEMBER Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Advisor: Advising and Referring for Independence at Home – Level 1 – 2nd Sept - Wandsworth, London - £195 Direct Healthcare Group – Seating Awareness Day – 11th Sept – Brighouse, West Yorkshire – FOC Electric Mobility – Engineer training for Electric Mobility retailers – 11th Sept - Ilminster, Somerset – FOC (only available for Electric Mobility retailers) Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Installing and Demonstrating Minor Adaptations – Level 2 – 12th & 13th Sept - Wandsworth, London - £340 Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 17th & 18th Sept – Liss, Hampshire – FOC (for NHS staff members) Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course - 17th & 18th Sept – Market Harborough, Leicestershire – FOC (for NHS staff members) OCTOBER Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 1st & 2nd Oct – County Durham – FOC (for NHS staff members) Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 3rd & 4th Oct – County Durham – FOC (for NHS staff members) Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Assessing for Minor Adaptations – Level 3 - 7th & 8th Oct 2019 Disability North, Newcastle upon Tyne - £400 Drive DeVilbiss – Improving Patient Outcomes Together – 8th Oct – Cambridge Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Assessing for Minor Adaptations – Level 3 – 10th & 11th Oct - Better Living Centre, Solihull - £400 Drive DeVilbiss – Improving Patient Outcomes Together – 16th Oct – Bolton Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Assessing and Adapting the Home – Level 4 – 16th & 17th Oct Better Living Centre, Solihull - £420 Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 23rd & 24th Oct – Liss, Hampshire – FOC (for NHS staff members) Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 23rd & 24th Oct – Market Harborough, Leicestershire – FOC (for NHS staff members) 62 | www.thiis.co.uk

Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Installing and Demonstrating Minor Adaptations – Level 2 – 24th & 25th Oct - Better Living Centre, Solihull - £400 Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor Refresher – 29th Oct - Wandsworth, London - £195 NOVEMBER Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Advisor: Advising and Referring for Independence at Home – Level 1 – 1st Nov – Wenman Mobility, Warwickshire - £195 Direct Healthcare Group – Seating Awareness Day – 6th Nov – Stoke-on-Trent – FOC Electric Mobility – Engineer training for Electric Mobility retailers – 13th Nov - Ilminster, Somerset – FOC (only available for Electric Mobility retailers) Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Assessing for Minor Adaptations – Level 3 – 4th & 5th Nov – Wenman Mobility, Warwickshire - £400 Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 5th & 6th Nov – County Durham – FOC (for NHS staff members) Disabled Living Foundation - Trusted Assessor: Assessing and Adapting the Home – Level 4 – 7th & 8th Nov Wandsworth, London - £420 Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 19rd & 20th Nov – Liss, Hampshire – FOC (for NHS staff members) Benmor Medical - Management of the Plus Size (Bariatric) Patient CPD Certified Course – 19th & 20th Nov – Market Harborough, Leicestershire – FOC (for NHS staff members)

CONTACTS FOR BOOKINGS Electric Mobility – Call Rebecca Bateson on 01460 258158 or email rebecca.bateson@electricmobility. co.uk Direct Healthcare Group - marketing@ directhealthcaregroup.com or call +44 (0) 800 043 0881 Benmor Medical - katie.rowsell@benmormedical. co.uk - Katie Rowsell – 0333 800 9000 Drive DeVilbiss - Email events@drivedevilbiss.co.uk Disabled Living Foundation – Call 020 7432 8010 or email training@dlf.org.uk


FEATURES • • • • • • • •


recruitment

events diary

Regional Field Sales Manager: South Symmetrikit Postural Care is the Market Leading Manufacturer of Postural Care equipment providing Specialist equipment to Children and Adults with Complex Physical Disabilities. We sell to the NHS, Social Services, Education Facilities, Charities, Care Homes and also to Private individuals. We have considerable growth plans over the next 5 years and a number of new products in development. We are looking for an energetic, determined and highly motivated person to support our Sales Team in the Southern Region of England. Reporting to the National Field Sales Manager you will be responsible for the delivery of the sales strategies, providing training to further develop the team’s sales skills and champion service excellence. The Successful Candidate will need to have proven coaching and team development skills and an ability to monitor Area Sales Manager performance against an Annual Sales Plan. There will be some requirement to take ownership for Key Accounts and support the Area Sales Managers in developing new business and Contract negotiation. We will be looking for proven experience in this area. Package: Company Car, I-Pad/Surface, Mobile Phone, Credit Card 23 Days Holiday per Annum Company Pension Scheme Basic Salary with a generous Commission Scheme: £ 45-60k OTE

Key Skills: • Ability to motivate people, with a coaching style that builds effective teams and manages performance positively • Excellent Team management skills are essential. • Good reporting and written communication skills with the ability to inspire a team. • Strong customer skills with the ability to build long term relationships. • Flexible approach to your work with the ability to develop and implement a business strategy • Excellent negotiation skills • Good analytical thinking and attention to detail whilst retaining the ability to see the bigger picture. • A clear track record of success in a leadership role • A Full UK Driving Licence is required. There will also be a requirement to stay away for some nights during the week - ALL expenses met by the Company.

To apply:

Please send a covering letter and attach a Full C.V to phil@symmetrikit.com Strictly no C.V’S from recruitment consultant

Check the ‘Jobs On Offer’ section of the website for more opportunities Take a look at the recently added positions Regional Product Specialist Contracts/Bid Writer Manager Operations Manager Area Sales Manager Product Specialists

www.thiis.co.uk

64 | www.thiis.co.uk

September 11, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Southampton – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 September 18-21, 2019 – Rehacare – Dusseldorf www.rehacare.com September 18-19, 2019 – The Emergency Services Show 2019 - NEC Birmingham www.emergencyuk.com October 9-10, 2019 The Care & Dementia Show – NEC Birmingham www.caredementiashow.com October 22, 2019 Hilton Hotel, Newcastle – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 November 6, 2019 – Mercure Maidstone - Great Danes Hotel, Kent – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 December 4, 2019 Llechwen Hall, Cardiff – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 January 22, 2020 – Midlands – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 January 27–30, 2020 Arab Health - Dubai World Trade Centre www.arabhealthonline.com February 5, 2020 – Llanelli, Wales – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 March 3-5, 2020 – Medtrade Spring - Mandalay Bay Convention Centre, Las Vegas www.medtrade.com March 4, 2020 – Kidz to Adultz Middle – Coventry www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk March 17 - 18, 2020 – Naidex – NEC, Birmingham www.naidex.co.uk April 1 – 2, 2020 Med-Tech Innovation Expo 2020 – NEC, Birmingham www.med-techexpo.com April 22, 2020 – Leeds – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 May 7, 2020 - Kidz to Adultz South – Farnborough International Centre www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk May 13, 2020 – Exeter – OTAC www.otac.org.uk or 02921 900402 June 24-25, 2019 Health+Care – Excel London www.healthpluscare.co.uk July 2, 2020 Kidz to Adultz Wales & West – Bristol www.kidzexhibitions.co.uk July 12, 2020 – Disability Awareness Day 2020 Walton Hall and Gardens in Warrington www.disabilityawarenessday.org.uk


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trusted recruiter Technical Sales Representative

Technical Product Assessor

South – Salary negotiable

Glasgow/Edinburgh - Salary £35k

Our Client is a world-leading assistive technology company who develops and provides inclusive products for the education and healthcare markets. Our client is extremely passionate about designing and producing specialist technology products to support a diverse range of needs. As a business, they are very proud of the magical technology which has supported many individuals to improve their learning, development and interactive skills.

Our client has been established for over 15 years and is a supplier of high-quality nursing equipment throughout the UK and Ireland. They pride themselves on using market-leading equipment to ensure the customers receive a first-class service and more importantly, unrivalled expert advice. The products our client specialises in are pressure care, moving and handling equipment, and nursing beds. Our client provides a service to care homes, hospitals, schools, local authorities and private individuals.

You will be selling into the assistive technology environment within the education and healthcare sectors. This will include many high-quality technology products and you will be expected to demonstrate and provide consultations to be able to recommend the best technology solutions to meet the customers’ needs. You will manage your diary on a daily bases and be expected to generate new sales leads as well as current business opportunities. The environment in which you will be working will cater for vulnerable individuals. You will be required to travel throughout the south of the region and occasionally be expected to host training events. You will possess a confident and enthusiastic attitude, and be sensitive to the surrounding environment. You will ideally be experienced within the Sensory environment and be knowledgeable on a technical level. You must be technologically minded, with a keen interest in up and coming technologies. You must be highly organised and be able to provide excellent presentation skills. Communication and a professional manner are highly important in this role as you will be working with many professionals within the industry and also individuals with specific needs. You must hold a full clean valid UK driving licence. Salary - Negotiable depending on experience. 28 Days Holiday (including bank holiday), company van, mobile.

You will be supporting all aspects of product assessments such as demonstrations, technical surveys, installations, quotations and aftercare. You will also support promotion activities within NHS hospitals and local authorities. Part of your role will involve ensuring all products are taken through the assessment and training process so it meets the client’s vision and customer service expectation. This role would require the candidate to be physically fit as this will be an active role. You will have experience in pressure care, beds and moving and handling products, and be confident in completing assessments, installations and demonstrations with these products. You must be organised and be able to manage and plan your diary on a daily basis and have excellent communication skills. You will possess a positive attitude and enthusiasm to succeed. It is preferred you have knowledge within the NHS and community sectors, CES and OT, and also an understanding of long-term care markets. Basic computer skills and any professional qualifications will also be advantageous. You must hold a full clean valid driving licence. Salary £35,000, van, mobile, laptop, printer, 20 days holiday (bank holidays on top), Mon-Fri hours. Please confidentially send your CV to antony@trustedrecuiter.co.uk

Please send your CV confidentially to Antony@trustedrecruiter.co.uk

Home Demonstrator/Engineer Shropshire/West Midlands – Salary £20k - £25k A long-standing supplier of mobility equipment which has been established for over 50 years, with operations across the UK and Ireland. You will be demonstrating and carrying out repairs on the company’s range of mobility equipment, including electric wheelchairs, manual and powered wheelchairs and wheelchair accessories. You will cover the Midlands and North West, working with end-users and therapists. You will also maintain equipment, conduct deliveries and set up products in the customer’s home, while offering a good level of customer service. You will have experience of servicing/repairing mobility equipment. A good level of communication is required and the candidate should be presentable. £20k-£25k basic plus company van, SatNav, laptop, mobile phone, uniform and 28 days holiday. To apply, please confidentially send your CV to antony@trustedrecruiter. co.uk

Technical Product Assessor M4 Corridor – Salary £35k Our client has been established for over 15 years and is a supplier of high-quality nursing equipment throughout the UK and Ireland. They pride themselves on using market leading equipment to ensure the customers receive a first-class service and more importantly, unrivalled expert advice. The product our client specialises in is pressure care, moving & handling equipment and nursing beds. Our client provides a service to care homes, hospitals, schools, local authorities and private individuals. You will be supporting all aspects of product assessments such as demonstrations, technical surveys, installations, quotations and aftercare. You will also support promotion activities within NHS Hospitals and local authorities. Part of your role will also involve ensuring all products are taken through the assessment and training process so it meets the client’s vision and customer service expectation. This role would require the candidate to be physically fit as this will be an active role. You will have experience in pressure care, beds and moving & handling products, and be confident in completing assessments, installations and demonstrations with these products. You must be organised and be able to manage and plan your diary on a daily basis and have excellent communication skills. You will possess a positive attitude and enthusiasm to succeed. It is preferred you have knowledge within the NHS and community sectors, CES and OT, and also an understanding of long-term care markets. Basic computer skills and any professional qualifications will also be advantageous. You must hold a full clean valid driving licence. Salary £35,000, van, mobile, laptop, printer, 20 days holiday (bank holidays on top) Mon-Fri hours. Please confidentially send your CV to antony@trustedrecruiter.co.uk

0333 0144 014 www.trustedrecruiter.co.uk 66 | www.thiis.co.uk


LIGHTWEIGHT

PRESCRIPTION

POSITIONING

POWER

A COMPLETE RANGE MOBILITY SOLUTIONS KARMA MOBILITY LTD UNIT 6 TARGET PARK, REDDITCH, WORCESTERSHIRE B98 8YN T: 0845 630 3436 E: INFO@KARMAMOBILITY.CO.UK WWW.KARMAMOBILITY.CO.UK


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Profile for THIIS

THIIS September 2019  

In the September issue, we examine if it is time for the mobility industry to take action to improve the safety surrounding mobility scooter...

THIIS September 2019  

In the September issue, we examine if it is time for the mobility industry to take action to improve the safety surrounding mobility scooter...

Profile for thiis