Thursday, September 28, 2006

SSAFA Forces Help

The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families’ Association (SSAFA) Forces Help is the leading national charity committed to helping and supporting those who serve in our Armed Forces, those who used to serve, and the families of both. They provide a reliable, caring and trusted service to more than 50,000 people each year.

They can help to provide financial assistance to the following service men and women:

  • Anyone who has served one paid day of service in any of HM forces - all ranks and branches
  • Immediate dependants of the above - including former spouses, widows and widowers
  • Anyone who has completed one year's service in the Reserve Forces and their dependants
  • Anyone who has served one paid day in the Mercantile Marine and their dependants - including Korea, Suez, Falkland and Gulf operations
  • Anyone who has served one paid day in the Palestine Police Force in WWII and their dependants
  • Anyone who has completed one year's service of the Association's Professional Nursing and Welfare service
  • Any UK citizen currently stationed overseas as part of the Armed Forces who has completed one paid day whilst abroad and at least six months service after their return

Those not eligible for financial assistance can still approach SSAFA for advice on where to go next.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Disability Now Question

Another excellent article from Disability Now. This question from a reader relates to people who aret starting to find the stairs difficult to use.

Your questions on equipment, answered by Lucy Andrews. This month, a reader whose relative is scared of falling when using steps asks for advice

March 2005
Q: "I have a relative who, with effort, is able to get up and down the stairs, but at times is scared of falling. I don't feel she needs a stairlift, but rather something to support her. Can you advise me on what's available?"

Many people feel vulnerable on the stairs, particularly when they are standing at the top looking down. There are some simple rules that will help you reduce risk: make sure that the staircase is well lit, the carpet is firmly fixed and in good condition, and that footwear fits well.

You can also look at how you use stairs. It may be safer to take one step at a time, particularly if one side of the body is stronger, and lead up with the good leg, but down with the weaker leg so that the stronger one is doing the harder work of lifting your body weight (going up) and lowering (going down).

Most staircases have a bannister rail on one side. A second rail provides extra assistance and encourages you to remain square and symmetrical on the stairs. Hand railing can be bought from DIY stores; or modular rail systems are available in white plastic from Cefndy Healthcare (tel: 01745 351787,, and in wood from Keep Able (from £110, tel: 08705 202122,

Turns in the staircase can be particularly hazardous as the stair width is often reduced on one side. The Newel Rail attaches to two sides of the newel post to give a continuous handhold as you move round the bend. It is available in two diameters from Homecraft Ability One (from £10.80). Homecraft also supply U grips, which come in sets of three and clamp onto the bannister rail to give an alternative grip on top of the rail (from £15.60, tel: 01623 757555,

There are two devices that provide a horizontal handhold across the stairs: the and the Stair-bar. The Stairaid is available from E Greenwood and comprises a steel handrail that replaces the existing banister rail, and a perpendicular rail that can be moved along the hand rail. When the user pulls on the rail, a friction grip prevents movement, giving a stable support (left, from £650, including installation, tel: 01274 571578).

The Stair-bar from Nuvations is similar in that the support rail is in front of the user, but the rail is moved up through a series of stepped channels that are fixed onto the wall on one side of the staircase and above the bannister rail on the other (tel: 07000 560732, Both devices can be used to go up and down the stairs. The Stairaid can also be fixed outside.

For individual advice contact the DLF's helpline on 0845 130 9177 or email us at A local Disabled Living Centre can also offer help. Addresses are on the Assistive Technology Advice Centres Council's website (previously called the Disabled Living Centres Council) at

Lucy Andrews is a senior advisor at the DLF.

If you've got a question you'd like Lucy Andrews to answer, email or by post at the usual address.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Independent Living Fall Prevention

Between one-third and a half of people over 65 will have a fall in any 12 month period. The costs are considerable in personal terms, of course, and also to the NHS, where £908 million is spent annually on treating fall-related injuries. It is not surprising then, that one of the key objectives of the National Service Framework for Older People is to "reduce the number of falls which result in serious injury and ensure effective treatment and rehabilitation for those who have fallen".

In recognition of the importance of this topic, Independent Living have established an area on the site dedicated to strategies and products to help with preventing falls:

This is a substantial section in its own right, and also ties in with the two complementary areas, "Resources for Carers" and "Telecare and Communications"

Thursday, September 21, 2006

College of Occupational Therapists

The British Association/College of Occupational Therapists is the professional body for occupational therapy staff in the UK. Their website will help explain what an OT can do for you. If you or someone that you know could benefit from an Occupational Therapist you can ask your doctor to refer you to a state registered OT. Or you can find the number of your local hospital or social services in the telephone directory and ask for the occupational therapy department.

There are also many OT's who practise privately. The Occupational Therapist in Practice website has a useful directory which can help you find an OT close to you.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Sherborne Upholstery Leather Recliner Chairs

Dolphin Mobility have been selling Sherborne Upholstery recliner chairs for the last 10 years, and have always been delighted by the quality. The Sherborne name is widely known and respected, and has grown into one of the most successful companies in the upholstery trade. With over 70 years experience in the furniture trade, their product range includes traditional Wing Chairs, Settees and Drop-end Sofas to the ultimate in relaxing, luxurious Reclining Chairs and Settees and matching Suites.

Certain Recliners, including all Electric 'Lift & Rise' designs, can be delivered to you anywhere in mainland Britain on Express Delivery in the entire range of Leathers. Press one button and you can ease yourself slowly into any reclined position. Then when you are ready, the Recliner can be returned to the upright position and will then slowly lift you up and tilt you forward.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Mobility Scooter Trailer

We have recently been approached by a company that is manufacturing trailers for mobility scooters. Armitage’s standard mobility scooter trailer retails at £499 and because it is specifically designed with an ultra-low loading height and compact dimensions it qualifies for exemption from VAT.

Scooter Trailer
The mobility scooter trailer is a welded fabrication, hot-dip galvanised after construction. It’s floor is heavy-duty phenolised birch plywood, with a textured, non-slip surface. We use the proven technology of Indespension suspension units, but with a new twist. Standard internal dimensions for the load floor where the scooter sits are 1525mm x 775 mm (5ft x 2ft 6½). Longer and/or wider versions can readily be made on request.

The rubberised torsion spring system is mounted “upside down” to lower the ride height of the trailer by several inches and make it massively more convenient for use by people whose agility is not what it was.

Lead-time to build from scratch is currently three weeks, but it is always worth a call to see if we have any trailers in stock. If you need any more information or would like a brochure sent to you please call Dolphin on 0800 9800 126 or send an email to

Thursday, September 07, 2006

THIIS - The Homecare Industry Information Service

The Homecare Industry Information Service provides up to date and valuable market information to Dealers, Distributors, Retailers, Suppliers, Manufacturers, Importers, Exporters, Agents and other companies involved in the homecare industry. A monthly publication is supported by frequent Email Bulletins to subscribers of this unique service.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Hastings Today Newspaper looks at Disabled Access

Stores 'failing' the wheelchair-bound

A NUMBER of town centre shops are failing to provide for the disabled community of Hastings.
The Observer visited several stores and found that, although many shops are complying with government legislation, many have let their provisions fall into disrepair. Since the Disability and Discrimination Act came into force in October 2004, shops have been instructed to make provisions for any potential customer who has a disability. This can take the form of providing a stair lift, disabled fitting rooms or ramps. An impromptu walk around Hastings town centre highlighted some worrying problems with wheelchair access to some shops. Fashion store Topshop, in Queens Square, had wide aisles and good door access but a blocked stair lift. A spokesperson for Topshop said: "The delivery bay is right next to the lift entrance and when the journalist visited the store yesterday, their delivery had just arrived and they were in the process of putting it away to prevent it causing an obstruction. Although the lift has only been used once we do make sure it is tested regularly. "Staff at Next refused to comment on the accusation that a wheelchair-bound shopper was left stranded halfway up the stairway when the store's disabled stair lift broke down but a spokesman for the company said: "This happened over two years ago and was completely resolved with the customer at the time through our Customer Services department. "Many of the shop's aisles were also a tight squeeze and the layout was not conducive to comfortable wheelchair access. Debenhams had a purpose-built hoist lift fitted to help wheelchair users tackle steps in men's fashion. But the lift was out of order and one member of staff revealed it had been so for quite some time. Because of this any wheelchair-bound customer wanting to access the lower level of that department store would actually have to leave the shop and re-enter it further down the road, then move through the narrow aisled cosmetic department. A spokesman for Debenhams said: "Debenhams is committed to resolving all issues relating to mobility impairment, including the access platform in the Hastings store. We will be reviewing all aspects of accessibility in this store in the very near future. "Not all the stores came out badly. Ottakers book store in Priory Meadow had excellent disabled provisions. There were clear signs directing wheelchair users to a spacious lift at the rear of the store and a special lowered counter for wheelchair users. The chip and pin machines in the popular book store can also be lowered to allow wheelchair users to use the main tills. Assistant manager Crystal Greenfield said: "We try to look after our disabled customers and their comfort is very important to us. "As well as the physical provisions in the building our staff are always happy to help or to go and hunt down a book people are having trouble finding. "A spokesperson for the Hastings and Rother Disability Forum said: "There are still problems in this area regarding disabled access. "Big stores like Debenhams really should be getting things done straight away, not leaving a lift broken for such a long time. "There are also a lot of a changes small shops could make which would improve things considerably. "Getting rid of a step or fitting self opening doors would be a huge help to wheelchair-bound shoppers but many stores seem reluctant to do this. "It would make superb business sense for the stores because the Hastings area has a huge disabled and elderly population and shops should be making the effort to cater for them without the threat of the Disability and Discrimination Act."