Following recent Department of Transport figures highlighting an increase in the number of reported mobility scooter accidents and calls for tighter laws surrounding the vehicles, Ableworld has emphasised the need for ethical mobility retailing.

According to figures released by the Department of Transport in 2017, there were 260 reported accidents involving mobility scooters in 2016, equating to a 17 percent increase on the previous year and standing in stark contrast to the 84 reported in 2012. Worryingly, the number of fatalities in 2016 also saw a steep increase, rising by 75 percent on the eight fatalities reported the previous year.

The sharp increase has led to many inside and outside the industry to call for stricter controls regarding the mobility vehicles including Fish Insurance’s Managing Director John Garrard recently advocating the need for a standard assessment to encourage responsible scooter ownership.

Emphasising the need for mobility retailers to act ethically during what it describes as “a time when many mobility retailers have given in and sold scooters online with no checks”, Ableworld says it is reassuring customers that the company will continue to trade responsibly.

The company has argued for a need to provide assessments and critical advice to customers relating to the purchase of some items of mobility equipment, outlining the negative outcomes that can occur if the wrong equipment is provided.

Michelle Mossford, Senior Marketing Manager for Ableworld, commented: ‘The wrong product sold over the internet or in-store without a proper assessment could lead to added complications to a person’s condition.  For this reason, some of our products are only available for purchase after an assessment has been made either in the home or in one of our stores.

“This can sometimes mean we lose out to ‘less responsible’ competitors who have no concerns selling over the internet or without a thorough assessment’.

In particular, the company identified riser recliner chairs, mobility scooters, powerchairs and wheelchairs as equipment where an assessment is necessary prior to purchase.

Providing more details behind the company’s assessment process, Michelle explained: “We have a ‘Demonstration Checklist’ that makes up just part of our ‘Scooter Assessment Process’ which are carried out with customers at store level.

“On completion of sale, we always give out a Highway Code and a flyer regarding our Scooter Proficiency Sessions as sometimes customers can walk away and lose confidence or need to be reminded of some of the key features.”

The retailer’s free regular Scooter Proficiency sessions and Highway Code for Mobility Scooters and Users aim to cover all aspects of safely owning and operating a mobility scooter according to the company, helping to keep other road users and pedestrians safe.

According to Michelle, investing in staff training is a fundamental element of being able to carry out accurate assessments, with all members of staff undergoing a six-week extensive training program that covers assessment.

“The one thing that is instilled in all staff is that each customer’s needs will vary, even if they have the same health condition, so some things can only be found out by talking and listening to each individual,” continued Michelle.

“Staff are not signed off until all topics covered and they have demonstrated that they have a full understanding of all subjects.”

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