THIIS January 2022

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Also inside... Retailer forecasts for 2022 ISSUE 280 JANUARY 2022

Winncare: Raising the bar

TRADE MAGAZINE

Manual wheelchair special

Making a difference Why The Ability Superstore is set on aiding customers the right way


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WELCOME

Inside..

From the editor Welcome!

34 46

24

Features

Regulars

20 Trade Talk: DIETZ Rehab 24 Retailer Spotlight: The Ability Superstore 32 Trade Thoughts 34 Supplier Spotlight: Winncare 40 BHTA’s consumer focus

04 08 42 44 46

News, deals and people Retailers’ Choice Let’s Get it Clear Opinion: Graham Ewart Buyers’ Guide: Manual wheelchairs

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic perhaps one of the best things to come out of 2021 was seeing how events, such as the British Healthcare Trade Show and Naidex, were able to offer the opportunity for many in the industry to connect with each other face-to-face again, especially after so many cancellations the year before. Many in the industry have also made great in-roads in developing new and safer ways of working. In this month’s Trade Thoughts (p32), Mike Williams, Managing Director of Ableworld, stated that ensuring staff are safe, well and enthusiastic is the most important factor for 2022, especially in an industry focused around helping and caring for vulnerable customers. In our ‘Retailer Spotlight’ feature (p24), Julia Phipps, Owner of The Ability Superstore, recalls how finding staff who care both about the products and the disabled community wasn’t the easiest, but she is thrilled to now have a team in place that does. On page 44, Graham Ewart, CEO of Direct Healthcare Group, explores why there has never been a better time to invest in drawing new talent into the healthcare sector. This issue, there is plenty to keep you informed, from the latest industry news (p4) to interviews with Darren Legg, Managing Director of DIETZ Rehab (p20), and Simon Claridge, CEO of Winncare’s UK operations (p34). Dr Barend ter Haar offers his advice on cushions (p42), while our topic of the month for Retailers’ Choice (p10) and Buyers’ Guide (p46) focuses on manual wheelchairs.

Editor

Stay up to date... TRADE MAGAZINE

Editor / Liane McIvor 07917 784929 / liane@thiis.co.uk Advertising / Joe Fahy 07384 258 372 / joe.fahy@bhtaengage.com Sub-editor / Sarah Sarsby sarah@thiis.co.uk

@wwwthiiscouk facebook.com/THIIS.Magazine linkedin.com/company/thiis-magazine THIIS is produced by BHTA Engage, Office 404, Tower Bridge Business Centre, 46-48 E Smithfield, Whitechapel, London E1W 1AW 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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NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE

News, deals & people

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

Select Medical acquires online care supplies specialist

in brief...

Pressure care manufacturer Select Medical – which is part of the Herida Medical Group – has acquired online care supplies specialist Nightingale Care Supplies. The new addition to Herida Medical Group’s portfolio will see both the Herida and Select Medical product ranges being offered through the Nightingale website. Sean Spencer, Herida Medical’s managing director, commented: “Nightingale Care Supplies shares our values and commitment to quality, so it was an easy decision to bring forward our future plans.” He added: “Initially we looked at expanding our existing website to offer an online buying portal however, we soon realised the established Nightingale Care Supplies website would be perfect for our needs.”

£300M SUPPORTED HOUSING BOOST The UK government has announced £300 million of funding over three years for councils in England to build more specialist accommodation and integrate housing plans into their health and care strategies. The adult social care reform white paper published recently sets out how the government proposes to spend some of the £1.7 billion earmarked in October’s spending review. The funding is part of a longer 10-year vision to ensure ‘every decision about care is a decision about housing’.

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Mobility XL and Autolift combine lifting expertise Specialist lifting solutions and vehicle access manufacturers Mobility XL and Autolift have teamed up to provide a wider range of lifting solutions for the personal mobility sector in the UK and Ireland. Mobility XL specialises in the design and manufacture of mechanical and electro-hydraulic lifts and ramps for ambulances, PSVs, train stations, goods handling and wheelchair access. It will work with Autolift S.r.l. to bolster sales and support services while offering Autolift’s products, which include inboard lifts, cassette, underfloor, semi-automatic retractable lifts and manual ramps. According to Mobility XL, the new partnership will combine the strengths of both companies to supply new and existing customers with a greatly expanded product portfolio and much-expanded support network. In a joint statement the companies said: “Mobility XL and Autolift S.r.l. are pleased to announce that, with immediate effect, Mobility XL will represent and manage the UK sales and service operations for Autolift S.r.l, operating currently as A&S Mobility.”

BROTHERWOOD’S 20-YEAR MILESTONE Wheelchair accessible vehicle (WAV) conversion specialist Brotherwood celebrated a significant milestone in 2021 – reaching the 20th anniversary of its ISO9001:2015 Certification, certified by UTAC. Specifying the rigorous requirements of the company’s quality management systems, ISO:9001 Certification highlights Brotherwood’s consistent approach to quality management. According to the WAV specialist, the certification assures its clients that every wheelchair accessible vehicle that it produces has been meticulously engineered in line with stringent regulatory requirements.


WheelAir appoints Non-Executive Director WheelAir, which specialises in providing temperature regulation solutions to overheating and over-sweating for wheelchair users, has announced Dr Allison Saltrese as the newest member on its Board of Directors. Dr Saltrese has substantial experience in the long-term management of complex neurological disabilities, particularly people who have sustained traumatic brain injuries and spinal-cord injuries. Temperature and relative humidity are two factors increasingly discussed when talking about pressure injury prevention and treatment, according to WheelAir, and with that, comes an increasing demand for knowledge and clinical evidence. Corien Staels, Managing Director of WheelAir, commented: “The addition of Dr Saltrese to the Board will put us in an even stronger position to produce and advance the clinical research around heat and moisture in wheelchair seating.” WheelAir also recently partnered with DIETZ Power to offer airmesh backrests for its powered wheelchairs. Turn to p20 to find out more.

INVACARE ANNOUNCES STRATEGIC REALIGNMENT Medical equipment manufacturer Invacare has announced that it will be realigning its European and Asia Pacific businesses under a single leader to streamline operations and enhance the customer experience. To lead this strategic business realignment, Geoff Purtill has been appointed Senior Vice President and General Manager, EMEA and Asia Pacific. According to Invacare, Geoff brings a strong customer, supplier and employee perspective to the role having served the needs of more than a dozen countries with a wide range of cultural, product, market, and regulatory differences.

Ableworld UK’s triple award success Nationwide mobility retailer Ableworld UK recently completed a treble of award successes, all scooped within a three-week period. The retailer picked up its first accolade at the South Cheshire Business Awards 2021 as it was announced winner of the ‘Business of the Year (25+ employees)’ category. The award came as Ableworld remained open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, helping its customers through home delivery and demonstrations. The second award success came as Ableworld UK entered the ‘Which? Trusted Trader of the Month’ competition for December 2021. After a strict criteria and application process, Ableworld was crowned the winner, with judges commenting that they were impressed with the amount of charity work that the company had done. Handicare ‘Retailer of the Year 2021’ came as Ableworld’s third award in quick succession, as Handicare hosted its Virtual Partner day. The retailer was recognised for listening to its customers needs and offering good customer service. The company now looks forward to another successful year in 2022, with exciting new mobility products and further store openings on the horizon.

ONLINE DISABILITY RESOURCE The Business Disability Forum (BDF) has launched a collection of free-to-access disability resources offering essential guidance for businesses. The ‘Disability Essentials’ range covers key areas including attracting and recruiting disabled talent, being an inclusive manager, managing workplace adjustments, welcoming disabled customers, and understanding the law around disability. Diane Lightfoot, CEO, Business Disability Forum, said: “We have created the Disability Essentials range to provide all businesses with key disability guidance on topics that we are most often asked about.”

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NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE

Sumed develops a new approach to pressure ulcer prevention Handicare hosts virtual awards event Handicare Stairlifts UK hosted a virtual event for trade partners last month, which celebrated everything the Handicare family of dealers have achieved together in the last 18 months, despite the many challenges the market has faced. The virtual event was the first of its kind since restrictions halted in-person events in March 2020. It included the prestigious Partner Awards, highlighting the growth achieved by Handicare’s dealers across the UK. Some partners got stuck into the spirit of the glamorous awards ceremony, donning black tie and raising a toast! Awards were presented for best growth in each category for dealers, as well as a special mention for Social Media Ambassador and the prestigious ‘Retailer of the Year’ award. There was cause for celebration with the announcement that, since its launch 2.5 years ago, over 10,000 units of the firm’s 1100 stairlift have been sold in the UK alone. Meanwhile, the online event gave dealers plenty of insight into the exciting new plans they can expect from Handicare this year.

Medical equipment specialist Sumed International has launched a medical device which helps to protect elderly or fragile atrophic skin and prevent painful pressure ulcers forming on the heel. Sumed Yathan Second Skin Heel Sleeve can be used in home care, nursing homes, hospitals and clinics for the fixation of non-adhesive wound dressings and can help prevent skin degradation and pressure points. The manufacturer states that it can also help in the treatment of pressure ulcers. Graham Collyer, Executive Chairman at Sumed International UK, commented: “Heel ulcers are the second most common area for pressure ulcers and this novel product will be very useful in patients, particularly those who need limited ambulation.” The lightweight product has been found to have a number of benefits, including helping to redistribute pressure and providing good airflow to the foot.

It’s a smooth riser The Brecon Rise and Recline Chair is proving to be Primacare’s most popular rise and recliner chair at the moment, offering a smooth transition through the rise and recline positions with a three-pillow waterfall back for comfort. Available in a variety of sizes, the Brecon comes in a wide selection of fabrics and foams with a range of accessories. Primacare states that the Brecon can be delivered quickly for standard size chairs in a choice of eight colours, with either a single-motor or dual-motor tilt-in-space action, or the option of a dual motor. A favourite with both retailers and end-users, Primacare says that customers love its simple but comfortable design.

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NE

W!

FLOW X

Our Most Complete Stairlift THIIS Retailers’ Choice of the Year 2021

www.accessbdd.com/flowX Designed for seamless movement, the Flow X provides outstanding levels of comfort, confidence and craftsmanship.


NEWS, DEALS & PEOPLE

Pressure’s on for Winncare with latest acquisition French medical device manufacturers Winncare and Pharmaouest have joined forces to offer the European markets a wider range of products and services dedicated to pressure care management. Winncare, which manufactures and supplies medical devices, such as medical beds, transfer aids and hygiene systems, is extending its range of pressure care management products and accelerating the development of digital services following the acquisition of Pharmaouest. Pharmaouest, a manufacturer in the field of pressure sore prevention, offers a complementary product portfolio and innovation pipeline that enables Winncare to expand its range for healthcare providers and professionals, putting the patient at the centre of the care pathway. According to Winncare, the merger should also accelerate the development of solutions that enable patients to continue their treatment at home or in a care facility, with customers benefiting from Winncare and Pharmaouest’s 70 years of combined expertise in pressure care management.

Recare adds new OT to its team Rehabilitation and healthcare equipment specialist Recare has appointed Grant Turner as its inhouse occupational therapist (OT). The range of wheelchairs, powerchairs and mobility products Recare provides is supported by Trusted Assessors with a proven understanding of medical conditions and associated challenges. This service prowess will now be enhanced by the introduction of Grant, a qualified occupational therapist, and his informed recommendations, backed up by a new stream of consumer advice and CPD education. Before joining Recare, Grant was a wheelchair, mobility and seating OT for Northamptonshire Wheelchair Service, and he fulfilled a rotational position at NHS Kettering General Hospital, helping patients in a variety of departments. Grant has already completed extensive product training and will be working alongside Recare assessors on a daily basis.

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Manual wheelchairs

Wondering which manual wheelchairs are grabbing mobility companies’ attention? Each month, retailers in the mobility industry highlight one product that has stood out for them and why…

Retailer’s Choice: Progeo Noir 2.0 Wheelchair from Permobil

Retailer’s Choice: APEX C Carbon Rigid Wheelchair from Motion Composites “Motion Composites Apex Carbon Rigid Wheelchair is a really stylish and durable wheelchair of which we have had such tremendous feedback from our clients as to what a great chair it is. “The carbon fibre wheelchair belongs to a new era of rigid wheelchairs. “Its high-tensile strength carbon fibre tubing means that it can be built with wider-than-average seat widths, up to 20” and its frame weight without wheels is, from 4.4kg, at its smallest configuration. “It also has a unique ergo-shaped front end to the frame which gives the user the ability to hold the frame whilst being able to pick up something from ground level or help when making transfers from the chair. “Two soft-sided calf pads built into the tapered front frame offers full comfort and pressure relieving for a narrow-tapered frame for the user.” Richard Holland Oakes CEO of Recare www.recare.co.uk

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“People buy products for different reasons. In our industry people often buy mobility products to suit their mobility condition. “Well, Progeo have made a product that does much more than that. They have made a wheelchair which looks stunning to the eye. Darren Macey “The Lamborghini of Business wheelchairs, Permobil have built Development a wheelchair that represents the Manager of personality of the user, a product Lifestyle and not just to use, but to use with Mobility pride, enabling end-users to feel at ease in any environment. This is why the Permobil Progeo Noir 2.0 is Lifestyle & Mobility’s top choice for this category.“ www.lifestyleandmobility.co.uk


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Strong stability due to i-Level Technology and a steady base.

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RETAILERS’ CHOICE

Retailer’s Choice: Escape Lite Wheelchair by Days Healthcare “There’s a lot of wheelchairs out there, but separating the great from the good, that’s something different altogether. That’s why the Days Escape Lite Wheelchair in purple flies off our shelves! “It looks good, but it also has some great features, and its build quality is beyond its price tag. This wheelchair gives a comfortable ride, both at home and on days out. “A lightweight and beautifully designed aluminium frame provides great durability, but more importantly, it makes transporting and handling an uncomplicated experience, due to its lightweight nature. “This wheelchair features a hidden half folding back, which means you can simply fold the chair and slide it away – perfect for storage, perfect for transportation. “The seat of the Days Escape Lite has padded upholstery and is incredibly comfortable and durable, and the arm rests are padded and easy to clean, too. A built-in seatbelt also provides some peace of mind when out and about. “The dual braking system combines with the puncture proof tyres for safety, control and simple maintenance. “If you’re looking for a new wheelchair that not only allows for easy storage and transportation, but also lets you enjoy indoor and outdoor excursions, the Days Escape Lite Wheelchair offers durability, style, and comfort in one handy package.” www.abilitysuperstore.com

Retailer’s Choice: Ultra Lightweight Aluminium Wheelchair by Drive DeVilbiss 12 / www.thiis.co.uk

“We have sold the Ultra Lightweight Aluminium wheelchair for many years. It is a reliable and popular choice with its ultra-lightweight aluminium frame and single cross brace. Its half-folding back, with removable wheels on the selfpropelled version and quick release footrests make it easy to fold for storage and transportation. “It has a two-tone upholstery making it more modern in feel and design. The soft touch fabric sides allow for a little more room and comfort at the sides. “At the back of the seat is a small handy storage pocket. The swing-out footrests are very easily adjustable to five different positions to suit the user's requirements, and you don’t need three pairs of hands to undo the bolt at the bottom whilst trying to get both feet the same height and then tighten it up. “Desk style armrests allow for

Julia Phipps Owner of Ability Superstore

easier access closer to work tops and desks. The chair comes in two widths, 17” and 20” “Other features include two stepper tubes, which enable the attendant to safely raise front wheels for mounting curbs; two solid polyurethane front tyres; long-reach brakes on the rear tyres; spoked 24" rear wheels with hard-wearing PU tyres, together with lightweight aluminium rims and hand rims for maneuverability.” www.peoplefirstmobility.co.uk

Karen Sheppard Managing Director of People First Mobility


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RETAILERS’ CHOICE

Retailer’s Choice: Excel G-Logic Manual Wheelchair by Van Os Medical “There are many manual wheelchairs on the UK market today and some really high-end specialist solutions for the active and sports user. “However, without doubt, the volume end of the market is for passive geriatric-type chairs that are easier to move and lighter to lift than the NHS-issued options. In this space most manufacturers will have an offering but our choice is the Van Os Medical Excel G-Logic. “The chair features a sleek aluminium hub,

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lightweight rim and push rim to give the chair a more sporty feel. It is also possible to mix and match with a choice of four frame colours and four upholstery colours, “It has the extra refinements required to make it an extremely popular choice with the private buyer and has sufficient options and adjustments to make it an easy product to stock in volume.” www.tpg-disableaids.co.uk

Alastair Gibbs Managing Director of TPG Disable Aids



RETAILERS’ CHOICE

Retailer’s Choice: Ergo Lite 2 from Karma Mobility “The manual wheelchair we have chosen for this month’s theme is the Ergo Lite 2. One of the first questions we get asked when a client is looking for an occasional-use chair is the lifting weight, which starts at just 9.2kg for the transit version, and 10.5kg for the self-propelling. “The ability to remove the footplates from this model also helps when lifting the chair into smaller spaces, or swinging them to the side for ease of transferring to and from the chair. Being a small company, we don’t have the capacity to keep lots of items in stock, however, delivery from Karma is usually next day which helps to ensure our clients are not waiting long for their new chair to arrive. “We are always confident that the chairs from Karma Mobility are high quality, but if parts are ever required they are reasonable and usually in stock.” www.classicmobility.org.uk

Lauren Bromfield Occupational Therapist at Classic Mobility

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Retailer’s Choice: Kimba Buggy from Ottobock “If you offer paediatric solutions as part of your product portfolio you could benefit from stocking Ottobock’s Kimba Buggy range. “The sector is somewhat neglected within the mobility retailer network but if embraced and coupled to a partner with great products, service and support it could be so rewarding and fulfilling. Being able to deliver a mobility solution for a child whilst enhancing the lives of mum and dad is awesome. “The options across Ottobock’s Kimba range are extensive and far reaching, achieving great outcomes across safety, comfort, and postural support needs, as well as user friendliness and peace of mind for the parents. “Each model within the Kimba range is customisable with options such as lateral supports and positional headrests, not to mention the ability to lie flat in a sleeping position. One of the real stand-out features is the ability to change the line of vision, a child can travel facing their parents if they need to be comforted or reassured when in motion, or they can face in the forward position. The option is there for the parents to decide, and the soft suspension provides a smooth journey every time. “Aesthetics play a major part in the buggy looking and feeling great with styles and colours in soft or lively shades, allowing the parents to choose a colour to match the child’s personality. There are so many options to be considered, whether it be clinical, comfort, positioning safety, Billy Finnie psychological or emotional, but Operations Ottobock deliver every time.” Manager of Mobility Scotland www.mobilityscotland.co.uk


A fantastic option to add to the portfolio going forward – this will 100% come in handy with the narrow-spaced properties we install at in EastAnglia. Adam Jeffries, N-Able

Two-way Powered Swivel The Freecurve that you know and love, made better than ever before! Helping to make everyday life easier.

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TRADE TALK

Trade talk Q&A with Darren Legg, Managing Director of DIETZ Rehab

Established in 2017, European power wheelchair manufacturer DIETZ Power develops powered wheelchairs that are adaptable for people with limited mobility. The firm most recently partnered with WheelAir to offer the option of airmesh backrests on its wheelchairs and is looking to launch more products in 2022. THIIS spoke to Darren Legg, Managing Director of DIETZ Rehab, the exclusive UK and Ireland distributor for DIETZ Power, to find out more…

WHAT DO YOU THINK DIFFERENTIATES DIETZ FROM ITS COMPETITORS? “We are the exclusive UK distributor of the DIETZ Power range of SANGO powered wheelchairs. “We are a family-owned business with a highly experienced and passionate team that offers an alternative to the current experiences our dealers have with quality of product and service. “The dealers we already work with like that it is our vision for every individual with reduced mobility to have the freedom to choose a wheelchair that’s of a higher quality, precisely configured and personalised to their needs and wishes, right down to the very last detail. “We work in partnership with like-minded dealerships, therapists and other provision suppliers, and

Happy customer Nev Tinnion – recovering from foot surgery with the DIETZ SANGO Advanced powered wheelchair

The Tauron|rsi XXL manual folding wheelchair

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we supply higher quality, modular chairs that can be tailored to each individual need and readjusted at any point if required.

“If standard solutions cannot offer the best solution for the customer, we will create individual, bespoke items for them by using our own materials as well as options from other sources.”


A First for Drive DeVilbiss, the New…

REMOTE “AUTOFOLD” POWERCHAIR is NOW Available!

Remote fold operation

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Following the huge success of our manual folding powerchair, we are delighted to launch our first AUTOFOLD Powerchair. This excellent new addition to the range features a remote control function that enables the chair to be easily folded or unfolded in seconds at the simple touch of a button.

Call NOW for price, more information or to request an InStore demonstration! Karen Clarke 01274 475 118 karen.clarke@ddhuk.co.uk

Sandra Conlan 01274 475 121 sandra.conlan@ddhuk.co.uk

Nial Hutton 01274 475 116 nial.hutton@ddhuk.co.uk

sales@drivedevilbiss.co.uk www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk Information current as of 10_21


TRADE TALK WHAT WAS 2021 LIKE FOR DIETZ? “2021 has definitely been a year full of great results and growth, especially on the back of periods of uncertainty around lockdowns and restrictions placed upon us all due to the ongoing pandemic. “We’ve strived to continue to support our dealers and the quality of our products, consistently short delivery times for chairs and spare parts, as well as the knowledge and adaptability of our team has certainly allowed us to do this. “As we have been able to demonstrate this, we have had more and more enquiries from dealers wishing to join the network and have selected the right ones to move forwards with us into 2022.

Handing over assessment kit to the sales and service team at Midshires Mobility

“For our existing dealers they have seen that our chairs, options and services allow them to offer the best solution built for each individual user combined with a quality and robustness of product that leaves them a good level of profit margin that’s not eroded by issues after the chair is delivered. “Achieving an average retail sales price of over £12,000.00, with some chairs up to £20,000.00 also shows we are able to support with more complex solutions than many suppliers in the market.”

The SANGO Adanced Mid Wheel Drive powered wheelchair

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WHAT DOES DIETZ HAVE IN STORE FOR 2022? “For 2022, we have set out some ambitious plans for continued growth. “First and foremost, we will kick off the year with a rebranding exercise, becoming DIETZ Mobility UK, to align ourselves more closely with the product ranges we will offer and start to introduce as the year goes on. “There are a number of new options available from January that will be available on our SANGO powered wheelchair range, offering even more adjustability and meeting requirements for a wider range of users. “One of these exciting opportunities is the integration of the WheelAir system into our SEGO backrest range, giving dealers the option to provide their customers with the control over temperature and microclimate, and improving their thermal comfort whilst sat in our chairs. “With the success our of SANGO XXL powered wheelchair, aimed at users weighing up to 250kg, we will also launch our Caneo XL/XXL and Tauron XXL manual wheelchairs to further complement our bariatric range offering. “There are some additional projects that will happen in 2022 so watch this space for further announcements!” www.dietz-power.com


Happy New Year! We at Movinglife want to thank you for supporting us in 2021, and look forward to a fruitful year ahead. Partner with the globally renowned Movinglife and expand your business For more information, please contact us via marcel.zwart@movinglife.com

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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT

Carol Hardacre, who is part of the operations team at The Ability Superstore

The Ability Superstore: Aiding customers the right way 24 / www.thiis.co.uk

Aiming to provide its customers with one of the largest ranges of affordable mobility aids and daily living products in the UK, The Ability Superstore in Lancashire responded to customer feedback by recently opening a physical retail store. THIIS chats to Founder Julia Phipps about how her business has grown from strength to strength…


Founded in 2010 with the vision to help expand the mobility aids and daily living aid market, The Ability Superstore went on to become a successful online business and a trusted supplier to the NHS. As well as an online shop, which enables customers to choose products either by room or by condition, the website features handy ‘how to’ guides on a range of topics, as well as news stories and features. Customers wanting to find out more about products can call the free telephone helpline from Monday to Friday. They can also email through questions to the inhouse occupational therapist, Kate Makin, for her advice or arrange a consultation with her. In November 2021, the store’s founders, Mike and Julia Phipps, officially opened its first physical store in Nelson, Lancashire. EARLY BEGININGS Julia explains that she initially decided to set up the business after struggling to find suitable mobility aids for her ageing mother-in-law. “Finding the right mobility aid was integral in helping my mother-in-law live a more independent and happy life in her later years. At the time though, it really was difficult to find the right products. Hundreds were available, sure, but with very little guidance, or advice, on which aids would be the right ones for her. “Finding the right product truly makes a difference to someone’s independent living, and I wanted to ensure that the right help and advice about them was available to customers.” Initially, after establishing The Ability Superstore, like most business owners, Julia found that she wore many hats, but has since surrounded herself with a great team of staff, which has allowed her to settle into the role of founder and focus on some of the core areas. This includes heading up the store’s procurement department and handling relationships with suppliers. She also heads up the finance team. She jokes: “I’m a big numbers fan!” Julia’s experience prior to The Ability Superstore was as Group

Marketing Director at UK Car Group, which looks after brands such as WeBuyAnyCar.com and Carcraft. “Working across the Group in many areas and helping to lead a culture change within the team really helped set me up for running my own business,” states Julia. STORE CHALLENGES Reflecting on the challenges in growing an independent business, Julia says that initially, the main issue was finding flexible business premises which would allow the business to grow. “We started life on a local business park, in a massive Lancashire mill. Over the years we expanded, renting more and more units as we grew the business.

“Finding the right product truly makes a difference to someone’s independent living and I wanted to ensure that the right help and advice about them was available to customers.” “Every year we found ourselves needing to take on another unit or move units. It got to the point where it made sense to actually buy our own premises. So in 2018 we purchased

Julia Phipps, Founder of The Ability Superstore

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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT

an 18,500 square foot old Lancashire sizing mill, adapting it to suit our requirements with a spacious office, meeting rooms, warehouse and, now, a retail outlet. “Finding a team who care about mobility aids and the disabled community wasn’t always the easiest either,” says Julia. “Now we have a team who really do care and go the extra mile for our customers.” The most challenges have come in the last couple of years, however. “Metal and general material shortages have not only disrupted stock acquisition, but also resulted in very frequent price increases from our suppliers,” she adds. As costs of products rise from suppliers, costs of products decrease from sellers such as Amazon, making for intense competition. Brexit has also been a challenge as a lot of suppliers and products have been carefully selected from companies within the EU. Says Julia: “One of our best-selling brands of rollators are based in

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This page: The store stocks a varied selection of daily living aids


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RETAILER SPOTLIGHT Sweden, for example, and it’s been difficult getting product into the UK and out into Europe. “I like to think though, that we’ve navigated these challenges with a lot of agility and quick thinking. Of course, there have been times when we struggle with stock availability, but we always keep our customers up-todate on the status of their order and, for the most part, they have all been very understanding.” A PHYSICAL STORE When establishing the business, Julia’s main priority was to succeed online, as, at the time, this was a relatively new route to market, and despite its huge success, there were no plans at first to open a physical store. However they began

to get many, many phone calls from customers asking to “pop in” and try a product out, or just to view or collect a product. “The frequency of these calls persuaded us to look at a small retail store. And with the amount of space we now own, it made sense too,” says Julia. She adds: “Our client base like to see and hold what they’re buying before they part with their money, and whilst online shopping works for many, we know that with visiting a store you can’t put a price on having face-to-face customer service – especially after the last 18 months.” Preparing the shop and opening in 2021 brought its own challenges, with one of the main ones being COVID-19. Says Julia: “We had to keep our team safe, first and foremost, and

“Seeing people lead a more independent life after using one of our products, large, or small, truly brings a sense of joy to me” you’d be surprised how difficult it is to fit out a shop when you’re socially distancing! “Thankfully Adam, who works in Technical Operations, is our general handyman and got busy painting and building POS displays. “Carol, a member of our Operations Team, has been very busy for the last few months, analysing customer

The store offers a wide range of wheelchairs

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POWER TRIPS


RETAILER SPOTLIGHT buying habits and deciding what products to stock. “She looked at orders and baskets and worked out what our main points of emphasis should be. Our TikTokfamous ‘Plug Tugs’ and ‘Safe Sips’ were an obvious choice, along with our range of Classic Canes. It’s really about having peoples’ favourite items readily available. This also includes our huge selection of rollators, shopping trolleys and wheelchairs.” The rollator selection in the store has been immensely popular, says Julia, especially the Let’s Fly Rollator. She adds: “Designed in Sweden, they are honestly a work of art when it comes to rollators.” The Safe Sip drink covers, which fit virtually any drinking vessel, are also popular, and not just for the elderly. “With the recent outbreak of drink spiking in student areas, pubs and clubs, we’ve kept these as cheap as possible to allow them to be accessible to everyone. We’ve sold a lot of these to student unions across the country, and they really do work.” The store is not looking at stocking more complex, prescription products at this time. The main focus, Julia states, is to provide mobility aids to the general public and create a network of accessibility for customers. For example, the store recently partnered with Taking Care to inform its customers about an at-home personal alarm service with response callout. Julia adds: “This is something that, while not a general care product, can truly increase a person’s quality of life, providing them, and their loved ones, the knowledge that someone is at the end of the phone to help 24/7.” MAKING A DIFFERENCE The business has recently made some additions to its marketing team, so that it can make use of social media in promoting its new physical store. Meanwhile, its online campaign has included videos and pictures from the store and interviews. The shop is a base for the store’s YouTube channel, which is used to provide expert advice about products and offer tips for daily living. As for the next 12 months, Julia says that realistically she expects to

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Drinking cups of various designs on display

encounter more of the same issues that were hitting them in 2021. “New variants of COVID-19, lack of materials, Brexit, and driver shortages... A lot of the time, these issues end up exacerbating each other!” Thankfully though, Julia is confident that her team can deliver. “With our massive network of over 150 suppliers, we will continue to deliver great customer service, value for money prices and quickly.”

So far Julia couldn’t be more pleased with the reaction from customers to The Ability Superstore. “Seeing people lead a more independent life after using one of our products, large, or small, truly brings a sense of joy to me. “It’s why we’re so active on social media. Receiving a message from someone telling us that our product helped them – that keeps us going.” www.abilitysuperstore.com


Colours Available:

www.pride-mobility.co.uk


Trade Thoughts What is your forecast for what 2022 might hold for the industry? With COVID-19 restrictions and shipping delays looking set to continue into 2022, THIIS asked retailers from the mobility industry to give their forecasts for what 2022 might hold for the industry.

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Richard Holland Oakes

Alastair Gibbs

It has been a bit of a rollercoaster two years; we have spent time re-organizing our position and re-structuring our strengths within Recare. “We have seen a swing of clients purchasing off the shelf products direct from the internet, the pandemic has brought this on as we can see more couriers running around day by day making deliveries straight to your door within hours. “Recare have re-focused on its specialized market offering high end mobility solutions, specialized seating and pressure mapping coupled with the employment of a full time Mobility Seating Occupational Therapist. This has already given us the edge and will help to pave the way forward in 2022. “As with most dealers the last 6 months has had a huge impact on delivery off products from our suppliers, this in turn stops growth and investment short term as we plan our exit from the pandemic. “I do feel looking at the entry level ‘mobility shop’ type of business is possibly finding it much harder than the more specialized dealers as explained above what hasn’t helped is in the increase of the product’s, smaller dealer margins, shipping costs, surcharges and longer lead times, and this will in affect your gross profit and confidence in your growth over the next few years.

If we thought 2021 was difficult I do not hold out much hope for the start of 2022. We are already starting to see stock shortages on the very basics of our trade and with the rocketing prices of raw materials and extremely difficult transport issues associated with both international and domestic freight, I can only see this getting worse before it gets better. “We must remember that although the disabled equipment market is very important to us in the industry, it is only a very small part of the demand on the manufacturing resources of the world. When I hear tales of massive shortages for the motor industry and consider the size of their market by comparison, then our demands are, I am afraid, going to be someway down the list of priorities. “Having just taken delivery of six new Ford vans that were ordered in February 2021 a 10 month order to delivery time, it makes me wonder how long scooters or wheelchairs might take in the future when the buying power of these manufacturers to get the raw materials required is insignificant compared to the buying power of Ford Motor Company. “On a more simplistic view, I am not sure the customer expectations will be ready for these delays when we have become used to instant delivery from the likes of Amazon and being in the bricks and mortar frontline we will be the focus for the customers frustrations.

Managing Director, Recare

www.recare.co.uk

Managing Director, TPG DisableAids

tpg-disableaids.co.uk


Billy Finnie

Carol Elliot

Mike Williams

I forecast a very positive 2022 for the mobility sector, or at least a positive Q2, Q3 and Q4. Q1 will be somewhat rocky but hopefully we’ll begin to see a settling down affect, with supply chains recalibrating and gearing up to deliver value, quality and availability, and manufacturing being able to source quality components to drive availability and improve lead times and shipping costs beginning to stabilise. I would be as confident as the next optimist that this will happen and if the global economies can begin to reset, we will hopefully see more stability and continuity. “My optimism is driven by the changes we have seen in people’s attitudes and buying motivations. They have developed a new mindset throughout the course of the pandemic and are becoming more decisive when it comes to making purchases, whether it be general home improvements or access within the home products or general mobility products. “Gone are the days of procrastination and stigmatisation of mobility products. Purchases are being made and will continue to be made. The home has become sacrosanct, and I believe people want a modern, safe, and easily accessible home where they can live and relax and are prepared to mitigate the risk of accidents or being hospitalised unnecessarily by buying preventative products. “Mobility access, comfort and safety products have seen tremendous growth recently. This continued trend and decisiveness will ensure theirs and our prognosis is healthy.

Scotland will become the first UK nation to legally require every home to have interlinked smoke alarms by February 2022. The new law and others have come about because of the Grenfell fire in London in 2017, and it applies to all Scottish homes. “As 2021 ends we have become aware that some local authorities and housing associations have introduced, or are looking at introducing, new policies around the storage and charging (especially overnight) of mobility scooters and powerchairs in socially rented accommodation on fire safety grounds. We have actively been working with The Highland Council Housing Policy Team so they have a greater understanding of the challenges our customers face in balancing their locality requirements with their mobility and communication needs. “The challenge is that customers may be put off by the paperwork in seeking the permissions needed. And that time will be wasted (remembering we can spend a whole day travelling to and conducting one assessment) for the housing provider to then not give permission. Permission can’t be sought in advance as the customer needs to know what equipment works for them first. “The opportunity is for reputable retailers to become known for offering sound advice in line with local policies on safe storage and charging when doing a home demo/ assessment. And in increasing regular servicing and maintenance work, and in some cases, Portable Appliance Testing.

I’m sure we were all hoping for a positive way forward with Covid diminished or at a very low level, however it looks like more of the same. “As with last year we have built up stocks ready for the January Sale and have an average of nearly £150,000 cost per store to ensure the stores have a good chance of hitting budgets and we can look after our Customer base, after all they are the ones that rely on us. “It’s nice to see a few new products coming through which always livens up ranges and of course our Marketing message. “The challenges, of course, are the ongoing supply issues, luckily some of the costs seem to be stabilising and the view seems to be that containers may become easier & less expensive after the Chinese New Year. “The vast majority of suppliers are working well with ourselves and we understand the issues and necessary price increases, that are never welcome. A couple unfortunately seem to be taking advantage of the situation which I believe will come back to bite them when sanity returns. “However much more importantly is the wellbeing and enthusiasm of our staff. We have fantastic teams around the business and it’s never been more important than now to keep the teams together and enthusiastic. “We are all in an industry of helping and caring for our vulnerable customers, so that is a great incentive to stay positive and keep going that extra mile.

Operations Manager, Mobility Scotland

mobilityscotlandltd.co.uk

Manager, City Mobility

www.city-mobility.co.uk

Managing Director, Ableworld

www.ableworld.co.uk

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SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT

Winncare: Raising the bar

Demonstrating The Eagle, Winncare’s latest product

34 / www.thiis.co.uk

French-owned Winncare Group has continued to strengthen its position within the UK mobility market since taking control of Welsh medical devices supplier Mangar Health – currently celebrating 40 years of business. THIIS chats to Simon Claridge, CEO of Winncare’s UK operations, to find out more about its steady growth and plans for 2022…


WHAT IS YOUR STORY WITH WINNCARE? “I joined Mangar Health – now Winncare – in April 2016, after the Chairman at the time, James Buckley, recruited me to develop commercial excellence and grow the business to become acquisition-ready. My experience is deeply rooted in medical devices and pharmaceuticals having previously worked for GSK and [medical device supplier] Arjo.” WHAT ARE THE STAND-OUT PROJECTS THAT YOU HAVE BEEN MOST PROUD OF SO FAR AT WINNCARE? “I have three stand-out projects. “Developing the care home market for the business has been one, with a campaign based on a value proposition to promote post fall management and support a reduction in avoidable call outs to the ambulance service. “The engagement from CCGs and Care Home Groups has been excellent and a key success was when the Welsh Government rolled out Camel Lifting Cushions to care homes across Wales. “The next stand out project is an export campaign. We supply lifting

The Archimedes bath lift was the first of its kind

cushions to every NHS Ambulance Trust in the UK and wanted to replicate this in export markets. A successful project to supply ELK lifting cushions to Ambulance New South Wales and Ambulance Victoria across Australia was a great win for us.

“Finally, getting Mangar Health ready for acquisition took commitment and commercial drive, so when we were acquired by French medical device company Winncare in December 2018, it was the successful culmination of many months of hard work.”

Workers at the firm’s COVID 19-secure factory

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SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT

Winncare’s stand at The OT Show

IN 2021, MANGAR HEALTH CELEBRATED 40 YEARS OF BUSINESS. WHAT DO YOU THINK ARE THE KEYS TO ITS SUCCESS? “Before a management buyout in 2014, Mangar Health was a familyled business with family values. We continue to reflect those values in everything we do, always keeping the customer at the heart of the business. “Our products are based on simple innovation with strong value propositions. They are designed to protect support carers and end users.”

MANGAR HEALTH WAS WELLKNOWN FOR INTRODUCING THE POWERED BATH LIFT. IS THIS STILL A BESTSELLERS FOR THE FIRM? “Although Mangar’s first product was the first ever powered bath lift, over the last 10 years we have seen our lifting cushions take centre stage. Falls impact every sector we work with, whether home care, ambulance or care homes and the Camel, Elk, and now Eagle, lifting cushions, are a great solution for

Let the Powerpack do the pushing Incredibly easy to fit and simple to remove Designed and made in the UK Range of up to 10 miles

36 / www.thiis.co.uk

post fall management. These are great products with strong value propositions.” THE EAGLE LIFTING CUSHION LAUNCHED IN 2021. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THIS PRODUCT? “The Eagle was the 40th product we’d launched since starting the business in 1981 and is based on the popular Camel Lifting Cushion. The feedback we had from customers was although they loved how easy to use the Camel


is, they wanted something with a smaller footprint. We launched the Eagle in response to this and have had an amazing response from all over the world. #TheEagleHasLanded campaign has been so well received and at The OT Show recently our staff spent many hours demonstrating the product time and time again!”

HOW DOES THE COMPANY SET ABOUT ACHIEVING ITS ENVIRONMENTAL/WELLBEING OBJECTIVES? “Whilst working on the ISO45001 accreditation we realised how important it was to involve staff in our decision making and ambitions. “We have set up working groups

for both our environmental and wellbeing plans in order to develop strategies that are owned by the team. “Aligned with this, we are also beginning the process to achieve B Corporation status with the overall objective of making Winncare a good place to be and great place to work.”

CAN YOU TELL US A BIT MORE ABOUT HOW YOUR PRODUCTS ARE DISTRIBUTED IN THE UK? “In the UK we have local authority and national teams with a direct sales force focusing on our key channels; local authorities, care homes, emergency medical services and dealers. Our export markets are serviced using medical device specialist distributors. “For export, our strategy and model is to recruit motivated dealers who specialise in the different business channels we operate in.” THE FIRM RECEIVED ISO 450001 ACCREDITATION IN 2021. WHY WAS THIS IMPORTANT FOR WINNCARE? “As we grow as a business it is important we continue to provide a safe and healthy workplace for our staff and visitors. “Putting a focus on health and safety and the continual quality improvement of our products has been a great way to keep everyone in the business aware of their own safety and empower them to take responsibility for the environment around them. “This is very much in line with our ambition to be recognised as a responsible company putting the health and safety of customers, staff and suppliers at the top of the list.”

Winncare aims to provide a safe and healthy workplace for staff

Call to find out more

01787 888 106 Attaches in seconds

or email trade.sales@tgamobility.co.uk www.tgamobility.co.uk QUOTE: THS20

www.thiis.co.uk / 37


SUPPLIER SPOTLIGHT WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE MOVING AND HANDLING MARKET IN THE UK, AND HOW YOU SEE IT EVOLVING? “In the UK we have excellent policies around safe moving and handling and increasingly we see more countries around the world recognising and becoming aware of appropriate manual handling techniques. “Particularly in our export markets we see the need for education, training and products to support best practice. We see this across EMS services and home care all over the world, combined with a desire to invest in protecting their staff from injury. As such, I see this market continuing to grow and we can support them with products like the Elk to lift patients safely.” HOW HAS WINNCARE MANAGED TO NAVIGATE THE CHALLENGES OF THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND GLOBAL SHIPPING DELAYS? “From the beginning of the pandemic our first priority was to protect our staff, whilst realising our NHS customers would continue to need our products. We implemented rigorous risk assessments and the whole team demonstrated great resilience, with the production team working along with skeleton field staff

Cutting material for the cushions

to support increased demand from customers. “We also supplied additional lifting cushions to the ambulance services and medical beds and mattresses to the nightingale hospitals. Customer support was maintained using video-conference training and joint assessments with OTs. “This year, we have seen pressure on the supply chain but after 40 years of building relationships with our suppliers it has meant we have been able to carefully manage supply at a time demand was significantly increasing. “Like all businesses, we are seeing significant price increases for raw materials and logistics but are doing

our best to manage this in a good way so as not to increase our prices dramatically.” WHAT IS IN THE PIPELINE FOR WINNCARE IN 2022? “2022 is going to be a big year for Winncare with some exciting new product launches. A recent acquisition of French company Pharma Quest will be an opportunity to extend our pressure care range and we will be launching a new product of our own into hospitals in the spring. This will be supported by a new hospital sales force and of course, new tools and equipment for our production facility.” www.winncare.uk Winncare has excellent policies around safe moving and handling

38 / www.thiis.co.uk


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INDUSTRY INSIGHTS

BHTA’s big consumer focus Founded in 1917, the BHTA consists of over 400 members, split across 12 different areas of the healthcare and assistive technologies market. Its largest sections cover mobility, independent living and access and stair lifts, where the association acts as a consumer protection body. Its members voluntarily sign up to the organisation’s Chartered Trading Standards Institute-approved Code of Practice, requiring companies to provide a level of service above and beyond their legal requirements. “The Code offers two important things to consumers,” explains Samantha. “Peace of mind that the company they are using are reputable, and protection in the event a dispute arises. “Both of these are becoming allthe-more important for consumers,

especially when it comes to products and services that play such a vital role in people’s health, safety and independence. “It is now more difficult to know which companies and products can be trusted. People’s faith in the internet as a source of accurate and impartial information has been challenged and tested, to the point where even online reviews are being treated as suspicious, as they could be fake. “So consumers, be it the user themselves or those buying on their behalf, are looking for something to put their faith into. “It’s something we see a lot on our website, where some of our most popular pages and searches are around advice on buying safely, and verifying if companies are members by using our directory.”

There are few trade professionals in the mobility, access and independent living industry that will be unaware of the British Healthcare Trades Association or unfamiliar with its blue and white badge, often seen on adverts, websites and company vehicles. Many consumers, however, may not be aware of what an affiliation with the association means for them. With a large, multichannel marketing campaign planned for the start of 2022, THIIS spoke with Samantha Lewis, Marketing Campaign Manager at the BHTA, to learn more about how the organisation is aiming to engage consumers.

CODE, CONSUMERS AND CAMPAIGNS Aiming to engage and educate consumers about the trust and protection that the BHTA stands for, the association is preparing to kick start 2022 with the launch of its first major consumer campaign. According to Samantha, the initiative will focus on informing consumers about the importance of the Code, and the value of buying from BHTA members. “We have a really important message to tell, but one that comes with a challenge,” she notes. “Many first-time buyers, be it users or friends and family buying on their behalf, are often searching for these products in a time of distress, such as following someone having had a fall. They are often unfamiliar with

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services – it will help us to engage people at the right moment when they are looking for advice and information.” “Alongside a big focus on digital marketing, the association is also investing in content as a means to engage audiences. “We know most consumers start their journey into the mobility and access sector by looking for helpful guidance,” she continued. “So, a significant element of our campaign will be on commissioning and publishing advisory articles on how to buy different products and services safely. This is a great way to introduce consumers to us, our Code, and our members.” the market’s products, services, and providers, and are rapidly seeking information and solutions. This means there is a pretty small window to inform them to also look out for our logo and what our Code of Practice means for them, during a time when they are taking in a lot of new information. So our campaign will focus on cutting through the noise.” To overcome the challenge, the BHTA’s team plans to make digital marketing a central focus of its campaign. As Sam explains, the ability to use pay-per-click (PPC) and paid social media advertising will be key to reaching customers in the right place, at the right time. “We know that the first place most people go when they need to find out something new is Google particularly adult children looking for solutions for their parents. So PPC advertising is a great way to really target those searching online for mobility and access products and

GETTING MEMBERS ON BOARD In addition to its own efforts to raise awareness of its Code and its members, the campaign also plans to mobilise its hundreds of members to help increase the campaign reach. “Digital plays a big role, and we are also using some traditional media, including a series of print adverts in a popular disability lifestyle magazine. The most important element of our campaign is our members, though,” highlights Samantha. “Our members have the most interaction and engagement with consumers, so they really are best placed to tell them about the importance of their BHTA accreditation, and the protection it offers.” To help its members do this, the association has created a ‘member marketing-campaign toolkit’, providing members with everything they need to inform their customers about being BHTA Code-accredited.

“All assets in the member toolkit are personalised for our members, including their company logo and names. It contains social media artwork, suggested social media posts, an email signature banner, potential website copy, as well as a new eight-page consumer guide,” details Sam. “The consumer guide is also dualbranded and provides members with an easy-to-digest publication that clearly explains what peace of mind and protection customers receive by buying from our members.” Launching at the start of January, the campaign is planned to run throughout the first quarter of the year. “This is very much the first step for us as an association in our concerted efforts to reach and engage consumers on a wide scale,” added Sam. “Over the coming months, we have some really interesting plans to reach various different stakeholder groups. Following our consumer campaign, we will have a similar initiative aimed at healthcare professionals, as well as reaching commissioning and procurement organisations later in the year. “For any BHTA members who have yet to get involved, please do get in touch with us at marketing@bhta. com. “We would really encourage you to participate, not only to strengthen the campaign to help reach more consumers, but to also benefit your business by letting them know you are reputable and trustworthy because you are a BHTA member.” www.bhta.com

Unit 1, 147 Elliott Road, Plymouth PL4 0QS

0800 285 1956

mobilityequipmenttrainingcourses@yahoo.co.uk

www.thiis.co.uk / 41


LET’S GET IT CLEAR

What makes a good cushion? 7. Standard of evidence Are there any differences between one cushion and the next and, if so, how much difference is there? What do the values from cushion characteristic tests mean for the end user? These are valid questions and are important when explaining to procurement departments that all cushions are not the same – even within the ‘same’ category (see below). There’s a number of cushion characteristics which we can measure, and that are important for the well-being of the client. These include aspects such as pressure distribution, immersion, envelopment, stability, temperature regulation, moisture regulation, changes with aging, amongst others. This builds a complex picture of each cushion, and to help actually quantify these aspects there are a number of tests covered by a range of International standards within the ISO 16840 series.

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

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WHEELCHAIR AND CUSHION INFORMATION The University of Pittsburgh’s Wheelchair & Cushion Standards Group is using an NIDILRR1 grant to translate these ISO performance standards into a way that is understandable and gives practical and applicable advice which can be used by healthcare professionals, manufacturers, wheelchair users, etc, to implement and call upon in daily practice. The results of their work to date can be found on their website www.wheelchairstandards.pitt.edu This site is an excellent resource, with useful fact sheets on a variety of topics, for example, on aspects of wheelchair performance, as well as on Cushion Performance Overview and a Cushion Performance Interpretation Guide. The latter covers seven of the available tests, explaining the reason why each is used, a summary of the test (with pictures of the test set-up), the range of values found across a range of cushions, and an indication of the significance of being at one end or the other of a range of values for that test. If you turn to the ‘Explore Our Data Tab’, here you will find data for around 50 different cushions, measuring: • Loaded Contour Depth and Overload Deflection (ISO 1684022 Clause 11): a test to evaluate a cushion’s ability to immerse the buttocks

In previous articles in this series, we have looked at elements of cushion design that influence a cushion’s properties for managing skin health and tissue integrity, for providing postural support, and for aspects of functionality. This article looks at some of the specific data that have been generated for a wide range of cushions, all of which establishes that no two cushions are the same, and that a cushion selected for a client needs to be selected around the specific characteristics which suit that individual client’s needs.

• Envelopment (ISO 16840-124): a test that characterizes a cushion’s ability to envelop and immerse the buttocks (data to be added shortly) • Hysteresis (ISO 16840-22 Clause 14): a test to evaluate a cushion’s ability to provide support consistently during a cycle of loading and unloading • Impact Damping (ISO 16840-22 Clause 9): a test to evaluate a cushion’s ability to reduce impact loading on tissues and help maintain postural stability when performing tasks such as going off a kerb • Horizontal Stiffness (ISO 1684022 Annex C): a test to evaluate a cushion’s response to slight horizontal movements in the forward direction This report also shows the effects of accelerated aging (using methodology from ISO 16840-63) involving laundering, disinfection, accelerated aging, and cyclic loading protocols on some of the cushions for various of the previous measures, as well as • Pressure Mapping (ISO 1684063 Clause 14): a test that utilizes interface pressure measurements to assess the magnitude and distribution of pressure on a loaded cushion • 10% Force Deflection (ISO 1684063 Clause 20): a test to evaluate a cushion’s ability to ‘cushion’ or elastically deform by measuring the force necessary to produce a


deflection of 10% of the cushion thickness The accelerated ageing protocols were then repeated a second time from which one can see which of the tested cushions saw their characteristics change the first time round, and which ones changed again after the repeated aging process. TEST DATA For all the tests, the values are provided for comparison purposes with those for a reference foam cushion made up of a 3” thick, high density polyurethane foam with a 25% IFD of 170 N and 65% IFD of 320 N. The reference foam cushion had a cover with a two-way stretch nylon/ spandex top and non-slip polyester bottom. On this report, you can select tabs for the different tests which colour code the cushions by their ‘CMS code’. What is a CMS code I hear you ask – well, unlike the UK where we do not have codes, in the US, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have created codes which cover certain criteria which a cushion has to meet for that code, and from that the reimbursement level it receives. The separate codes cover cushions for: General Use; Positioning; Skin Protection; Skin Protection and Positioning; Adjustable Skin Protection; and Adjustable Skin Protection and Positioning. WHAT DOES THIS DATA MEAN? A couple of the graphs are reproduced here as Figures 1 and 2 showing the different performances of the cushions tested against the parameters of stability and force

Figure 2 The 10% Force Deflection report from ‘Explore our data’

deflection. Note that cushions M and AU, for example, are at opposite extremes in Figure 1, whereas they have similar values in Figure 2. To apply the data in a helpful manner, one needs to choose a measure or measures that is/are appropriate for your client’s needs. It is also interesting to note that generally the cushions do not group together by their CMS code: this raises the question as to whether the bases for these codes have been set alongside the most appropriate criteria. (The coding is based upon the Loaded Contour Depth test with added immersion and overload deflection requirements per code.) At least these criteria are somewhat better than defining a cushion by what it is made from, or what it looks like, which has occurred in some tendering processes in the UK. At this stage, all the cushions have been ‘blinded’ while permission is sought from the manufacturers to identify their cushions, but why not ask your supplier which cushion letter represents their tested cushion?

Figure 1. The stability report from ‘Explore our data’

The important thing to note is that the data are not pass/fail criteria, and do not point to one cushion necessarily being ‘better’ than another. For some clients it is important for them to have a cushion performing at one end of a scale, while for others it might be the opposite end. Eventually, the Pitt team aims to bring all the data together, to populate, in the Cushion Concierge page, cushion performance data resource, based on these ISO standard tests. This resource can then be used to help healthcare professionals transform the wheelchair cushion selection process, and advance evidence-based clinical practice. 1. The National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research 2. ISO 16840-2:2018 Determination of physical and mechanical characteristics of seat cushions intended to manage tissue integrity 3. ISO 16840-6:2015 Simulated use and determination of the changes in properties of seat cushions 4. ISO 16840-12:2021 Apparatus and method for cushion envelopment testing

‘Let’s Get it Clear’ by Dr Barend ter Haar

One in a series of occasional resumés of aspects in the world of posture and mobility where there are common misconceptions, and myths to be addressed, to help promote better practice. Further items can be found at www.beshealthcare.net. If you are interested in receiving further information on the topic, please contact barend@beshealthcare.net

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OPINION

Opinion: Why the sector must recruit new blood The sector is at severe risk of getting left behind if it fails to draw new talent, writes Graham Ewart The recruitment issues in healthcare have long been front and centre of the news agenda, not only in the past two years, but for as long as I can remember. Attracting and retaining staff across medtech, social care and nursing has been a thorn in its side for a long time, and this issue is more prevalent than ever in today’s pandemic world. Reports late last year suggested there are now more unfilled care jobs than before Covid-19, with care companies forced to turn down work supporting patients as they move from hospital back to their own homes or care homes simply due to a lack of staff. Clearly, there are improvements to be made across the board in terms of hours and wages, but without doing so and drawing new talent in, the sector is at severe risk of getting left behind. New blood in the sector not only fulfills gaps in patient care, but develops the industry in terms of new ideas, new ways of working and new capabilities.

A significant part of our growth at DHG is a result of our continued investment in our R&D department. Forty per cent of our revenues stem directly from our own patented products - many of which have won prestigious industry awards, and as such we continue to ensure this department leads our strategy. But the realisation of this strategy isn’t by magic. We have the right people in our teams who are striving to develop the very latest and most innovative products on the market. INVITING NEW PERSPECTIVES Our recruitment processes encourage the company to look outside of healthcare backgrounds or seniority to attract and employ staff that can provide different perspectives which can spark new ideas. I believe it’s imperative to look outside our own office walls to learn, develop and foster innovation. Some of our best innovations have started as small thoughts from colleagues, and together with our R&D teams, have grown to become products

Controlling a powerchair as attendant has never been easier 44 / www.thiis.co.uk

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which have truly changed the lives of patients across the world. In addition, our collaborations with organisations across the world, including the Welsh Wound Innovation Centre, a global hub of exD facilities, are also essential resources to us in fostering this creative culture across our teams. As our own experience has shown us, having the staff to drive innovation is key to our sector and I do think that now really is the time to invest in our talent from a national and local level. The rapid adoption

“Having the staff to drive innovation is key to our sector and I do think that now really is the time to invest in our talent from a national and local level”


Graham Ewart is CEO of Direct Healthcare Group (DHG), a Caerphillybased developer and manufacturer of pressure care products. www.directhealthcaregroup.com

of technology in healthcare during Covid is an example of how much this new blood is needed. Virtual appointments have become a positive by-product of Covid, and while there are legitimate concerns about the implementation of digital GP appointments for emergency illness, complications and cancer diagnoses, for non-emergency illnesses or advisory consultations these digital Skype calls have freed up valuable in-person time for GPs, time which was unavailable pre-pandemic. BRINGING IN NEW IDEAS Private healthcare services, such as SimplyHealth, have been offering

their digital consulting services for many years, allowing customers to quickly diagnose skin complaints, or speak privately to mental health advisors. Meanwhile, a survey conducted last June for the British Medical Association showed that 88 per cent of GPs want to see greater use of remote appointments continue into the future, demonstrating that both the general public, and those working within the field, think digitalisation of the sector is working well. It’s these kinds of systems which need to be adopted on a wider scale in order to reinvigorate our health service, and I believe we can only do

this by bringing in new talent and new ideas into the sector. I’m always of the belief that if you spend too long in one place, you become too accustomed to that way of life, so much so that it’s difficult to notice the benefits of, or apply, changes even if they are for the better. The same is true in industry. As we start 2022, we can look forward to a year of hope and healing for the healthcare industry, but we must also now start looking beyond ‘what has always been’ by bringing in new talent who can drive innovation forward. Sometimes we need to change to excel, and now is the prime time to do so.

contact@mo-vis.com +32 9 335 28 60 www.mo-vis.com

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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE

Buyers’ guide to manual wheelchairs

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

ICON 35 lightweight aluminium wheelchairs by Rehasense The ICON 35 lightweight aluminium wheelchairs have been a very popular addition to the portfolio, according to Rehasense. Weighing 8.2kg, the ICON 35Bx is the lightest wheelchair in the ICON range and features an ergonomic seat and back angle to provide a superb seating position. Weighing 9kg, the ICON 35Lx is fitted with enhanced ergonomic

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seating, back upholstery and adjustable arm rests for increased levels of support and pressure relief if required. Both models are available in medium or large seat widths and for transportation and storage can be easily folded and take up little space with length, height and width dimensions of 26”x 29” x 11”. With a maximum user weight of

125kg, both models offer a great lightweight wheelchair solution for most users. Standard features on the ICON 35Bx and Lx include swing-away leg rests with release lever, stepwise brake control with cable, armrest (height adjustable on the LX) and carrying handle for transporting when folded. www.rehasense.co.uk


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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE

Strongback Wheelchair by TGA Mobility This lightweight folding wheelchair offers proper back support to provide a comfortable seating position. An evolution in wheelchair design, the Strongback solution provides contoured back support with an ergonomic backrest for improved posture and comfort. The ergonomic lumbar support is integrated into the frame of the wheelchair, improving the seat angle and offering a curved supportive backrest. The seat angle aligns the pelvis for proper ergonomic posture and prevents slipping and slouching forwards. Weighing 11kg, standard features include attendantcontrolled brakes, a folding backrest, quick-release wheels and easy fold-back footrests. Available as attendant or selfpropelled in a full range of sizes, the chair now has the option of flip-back armrests.

TraveLite Transport Chair by Drive DeVilbiss Specifically developed for easy storage and transportation, the TraveLite Transport Chair folds to a compact size and includes a lightweight travel bag with wheels, making it ideal for occasional use such as shopping trips, days out and holidays. Weighing a lightweight 10kg, the chair folds to approximately a third of the size of a typical folded wheelchair for easy transportation and storage. Useful features include multiple cross braces for added strength and stability, flip-up padded desk arms and 8” solid puncture-proof tyres. The chair also boasts removable and height adjustable footrests with heel straps. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk

www.tgamobility.co.uk

Agile Aluminium Wheelchair by Karma Mobility The Agile is the latest addition to the Karma range of wheelchairs; it has a lightweight aluminium frame and takes users up to 125 kg. The Agile, which has been successfully crash tested, comes with detachable footrest hangers and flip back armrests and it is available in transit and self-propel, in 16”, 18” and 20” seat widths. Optional accessories include a tension adjustable backrest, elevating legrests and anti-tips. www.karmamobility.co.uk

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Buyers’ guide to... Each month, discover key products from a different segment of the mobility market to consider offering to customers. THIIS Buyers Guide product listings by issue for 2022: February March April May June July August September October November December

Walking aids Powerchairs and electric wheelchairs Mobility scooters Mobility accessories, power add-ons and batteries Paediatric equipment Moving and handling Stairlifts, homelifts and access Bathing and toileting Aids for daily living Seating and cushions Beds and mattresses

For the various options available and to get your products in front of the mobility and access industry please direct your enquiries to Joe Fahy via joe.fahy@bhtaengage.com or 07384 258 372.

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RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE

Carer Controlled Electric Wheelchair by Ypush Why push the wheelchair? The unique Ypush is operated by a carer, with electric power-assistance at the touch of a button. Unlike a bolt on power-pack, the Ypush can also be pushed like a normal transit chair, engaging power seamlessly at any time, without changing any settings. www.ypush.com

DB1 Heavy Duty Wheelchair by Ability Matters The DB1 Heavy Duty features ultra-strengthened and reinforced components to enable it to support user weights of up to 200kg, however it can also be configured for user weights as low as 23kg. With seat widths available up to 26”, the DB1 Heavy Duty is a highly configurable, lightweight, bariatric wheelchair. Modern and stylish, this chair offers the flexibility of a wide variety of cross-compatible prescriptive options, such as power packs, which can be easily fitted. The DB1 Heavy Duty, which is foldable and can be easily transported or stowed, offers a wide range of options and accessories to create a tailor-made bariatric wheelchair.

Flexx Series Wheelchair by Karma Mobility The Flexx is Karma Mobility’s most adjustable wheelchair and is available in a variety of seat widths from 15” to 24”. The seat depth is available from 16” to 20”, and there are two backrest heights 17” and 20”. The seat to ground can be adjusted from 16.5” to 21”, and the backrest angle is also adjustable. Having such a wide variety of settings and accessories makes the Flexx an ideal option for users with specific requirements from their wheelchair. www.karmamobility.co.uk

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www.abilitymatters.com


EATING

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HA-4390 – Weighted Knife HA-4391 – Weighted Spoon HA-4392 – Weighted Teaspoon HA-4395 – Weighted Fork HA-4360 Black/Red – Curved Reflex Knife HA-4361 Black/Red – Right Handed Curved Spoon HA-4365 Black/Red – Right Handed Curved Fork HA-4371 Black/Red – Left Handed Curved Spoon HA-4375 Black/Red – Left Handed Curved Fork

HA-4249 White/Red – Scoop Plate

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Shine International Limited • 9 Holkham Road • Orton Southgate • Peterborough • PE2 6TE


RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE

Dash Stowaway Folding Wheelchair by RHealthcare Ultra-light and compact, the Dash Stowaway easy folding wheelchair allows the occupant to travel in style easily. Weighing 12.3kg, this ultracompact, lightweight wheelchair is

highly adaptable, ideal for taking on holiday or out for the day shopping. Now with quick release transit wheels and attendant brakes as standard, the chair stores like a buggy, meaning that there is no rear

view restriction for car drivers. It easily stores in the car boot or under the stairs. This chair is ready to go from ordering. www.rhealthcare.co.uk

Easy 1 Wheelchair by Ability Matters The Easy1 range of lightweight aluminium folding wheelchairs are designed for occasional use. Available in both self-propel and attendant versions, the Easy1 is well equipped to meet the needs of a wide range of users. It features a tension adjustable back as standard for enhanced comfort and greater postural support, and an air exchange

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cushion cover, which aids in the control of core body temperature. Attendant brakes are also included as standard on both self-propel and attendant versions. Boasting four sizes, the Easy1 is a fantastic option for a wide range of users and offers additional features such as residual stump supports and elevating leg rests for additional postural control.

www.abilitymatters.com


Compact, Configurable, Lightweight

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DB1 Compact is uniquely customisable to suit the individual needs of the user and the environment in which they live, with a lightweight, folding design making it ideal for everyday use.

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Specialist powerchair joystick technology from mo-vis mo-vis offers a range of highly specialised joystick controls to help people with varying levels of mobility and hand movement control their powerchair. All mo-vis joysticks can be adapted to meet the needs of the individual and fitted to almost all powerchair models. The joysticks can be connected directly to the powerchair’s electronics to enable the user to drive and control the functions. The Micro and Multi Joysticks are very small proportional joysticks, designed for people with limited muscle strength and movement. Requiring only 8.5 and 50 gr of force to move, they can be controlled

by finger, chin and – in the case of the Micro Joystick – even the tongue or lip. They are highly recommended for people with muscular or neuromuscular conditions such as MS and Muscular Dystrophy. The All-round (Light) Joystick from mo-vis is a compact version of a standard powerchair joystick and can be placed anywhere the user has easy access to. It is suitable for most powerchair users and can be used as a standard, chin or attendant joystick. Completing the range is the Heavy Duty Joystick, a large format, hard wearing, proportional joystick designed for all-round heavy-duty use. This model can be used as a

hand or foot operated joystick and is perfect for users who apply excessive force. For more information on the full range of joystick controls available, or to discuss retailer opportunities email: contact@ mo-vis.com, call +32 9 335 28 60 or visit www.mo-vis.com

www.thiis.co.uk / 53


RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE

ICON 60 Manual Wheelchair by Rehasense The new ICON 60 manual wheelchair is one of the most adjustable wheelchairs currently available, according to Rehasense. This latest addition to the portfolio features a lightweight rigid 7000 Series aluminium alloy frame and carbon fibre side panels. It has been designed to enable the user to adjust various elements of the chair to suit their individual needs.

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The frame length and seat angle are adjustable and for maximum comfort, the backrest – which is foldable to assist with transporting the ICON 60 by car – can be adjusted forward by up to 20 degrees or backwards by up to 10 degrees. The seat height can also be easily adjusted with a choice of different heights, which in turn changes the centre of gravity to make the chair

a more ‘active’ model. As with all Rehasense products, the ICON 60 is stylish, user friendly and aesthetically pleasing. With a maximum user capacity of 120kg, the ICON 60 comes with a choice of four colour finishes and several wheel, tyre and push-rim options to choose from. www.rehasense.co.uk


All chairs are not the same

For more information on our range go to... www.primacare.co.uk Chairs featured are the Snowdon BLTR and the Adelphi.


RETAILERS’ BUYING GUIDE

Ergo Lite Series Wheelchair by Karma Mobility The XS2 Aluminium Wheelchairs by Drive DeVilbiss The XS2 Transit and Self Propel Wheelchairs were designed for occasional or frequent use and available in three seat widths 16”, 18” & 20”. Both include added safety features such as a onetouch lap belt and reflectors to improve visibility. The sturdy, silver aluminium frame is lightweight for transporting, durable and aesthetically pleasing. The chair features a simple folding mechanism, half-folding backrest, removable arms as well as quickrelease footrests. Self-propelling rear wheels allow space-saving storage and easy transportation. Padded desk-style armrests provide additional comfort and allow unhindered access to work surfaces while footrests swing in and out to enable transfers on and off chair, whilst flip-up armrests facilitate side transfers. The chair includes a seat cushion and tension-adjustable backrest, and the armrests feature push-button length adjustment. Other features include long-reach brakes on the rear wheels for easy access and integrated anti-tip wheels. The chair feature allround solid polyurethane tyres. www.drivedevilbiss.co.uk

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The Ergo Lite 2 is a lightweight wheelchair, starting from 8.5kg complete. It is available in 16” or 18” seat widths and comes in either transit or self-propel. The double cross brace ensures that the wheelchair is durable as well as light. The Ergo Lite and Ergo Lite 2 features in this month’s Retailers’ Choice feature.

www.karma mobility.co.uk

DB1 Compact Wheelchair by Ability Matters The DB1 Compact is designed to be ultra-compact, highly efficient, and easy to use, making it an ideal wheelchair for everyday use. DB1 Compact is uniquely customisable to suit the individual needs of the user and their environment. High-quality componentry and anodised finishes on the wheelchair ensure unhindered performance and a modern look throughout the life of the device. An extensive range of sizes, options and accessories are available with the DB1 Compact Wheelchair to customise the prescription of the chair. Due to its highly configurable modular design, the DB1 Compact Wheelchair can be modified to suit the functional and clinical requirements of its user. www.greencaremobility.com


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Stiltz Homelifts are recruiting! Behind the on-going success of award-winning Stiltz Homelifts, are an amazing team of people. We are now looking for additional talent to join us to help grow our professional Field Operations teams across the UK. Installation Engineers. All UK locations

As a Stiltz Intstallation Engineer, you will install and commission our homelifts, working in customers’ homes. • You must have a mechanical/electrical background with the ability to carry out basic electrical fault finding if required. We will provide full product training • Experience in a field based role; maintenance or installations ideal • Demonstrate a high standard of workmanship and professionalism • Full UK driving license and DBS check required. You’ll be reliable and resourceful • Qualification in appropriate trade ideal

Multi-Trade Builders/Carpenters. All UK locations

You’ll support the build/installation of our homelifts in customers’ homes. As a Stiltz Multi-Trades Builder/Carpenter you will offer a high quality of workmanship including: • Experience in 1st fix carpentry (floorplan installation; joists and steel work) • Experience in 2nd fix carpentry (fixing architrave and skirting boards, fitting doors) • Proven experience of structural adaptations; joists/beams/columns/plinths/steels • Ability to read and understand architects’ drawings / structural calculations • Ideally NVQ Level 2 in relevant trade • Full UK driving license and DBS check required

Installers’ Assistants. All UK locations

Support our experienced Build/Install teams in the UK. You should have: • Strong practical aptitude • Experience of the building trade and/or allied industries • Ability to prioritise, plan and multi-task • Ideally, previous experience of assisting/labouring with experienced trades • Full UK driving license and DBS check required

Above roles are UK-based and involve travel and occasional overnight stays. If you’re excited by the prospect of working for a highly successful business that puts employees and customers first AND provides excellent staff benefits, get in touch.

OFFICE-BASED ROLES ALSO AVAILABLE! Visit stiltz.co.uk/vacancies/

Our recruitment team are waiting to hear from you! Forward an up-to-date CV to jobs@stiltz.co.uk


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

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

Ergo Lite 2 Self Propel Wheelchair

Ergo Lite 2 Transit Wheelchair


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