Continuous improvement is a hallmark of every successful industry, and the mobility sector is no different. As we find ourselves at the beginning of a new year, it’s the perfect opportunity to analyse how the industry might evolve to make even more of a difference to users and buyers of access and mobility equipment over the next 12 months.
With that in mind, I was interested to read a report urging local authorities to make home adaptations and living aids a greater priority in 2018.
Making small changes to older people’s homes, such as installing handrails, ramps and level-access showers, could play a significant role in relieving pressure on the NHS and social care and reduce costs by millions of pounds each year, according to Ageing Better, which compiled the report.
It concludes that access and mobility products are often installed late because they are “poorly designed”, and as a result the group is vowing to work more closely with retailers, designers and OTs this year to improve the design of products and their visibility in the mainstream market. Improving access to well-designed, affordable adaptations “that look and feel less medical, and therefore less stigmatising” is one of the first places to start, it thinks.
The benefits of change are huge on multiple levels. Installing minor home adaptations and making improvements to housing could reportedly lead to overall savings of at least £500m each year to the NHS and social care services in the UK through a 26% reduction in falls, which account for over four million hospital bed days each year in England alone. Additionally, there are currently nearly half a million households in England where someone aged over 65 with disabilities or long-term illness does not have the adaptations they need.
The number of people with mobility issues is only going to grow as people live for longer and the population increases. It is clear that there is much for the industry to aim for in 2018 and beyond.