CHOICE membership

Disability aids

Sorry for such a broad request but there are just so many differing aids available it is hard to single one type out for special treatment.

As many of us start to have problems with mobility, eyesight, hearing and so on is it worth asking the CHOICE test team to run tests on various disability aids eg walkers, walking frames, shower chairs, toilet chairs, walking sticks, hygiene bottles ie men and women’s urine bottles, bottle opening aids. There are a lot more including hygiene wearables, wheel chairs (powered and unpowered), mobility scooters and carts.

This could be of a huge benefit to many out there looking at what will serve them best for their needs. The issues of reliability, convenience, suitability and so on would be very worthwhile as part of those recommendations and reviews. When testing and looking for items to test contacting various disability groups could also help garner recommendations of what to test and some may even help to supply the test subjects/supplies. Making these connections would perhaps strengthen the position of CHOICE as a non-biased tester of these types of products and even the “first port of call” for those requiring or looking into these aids.

As well as this when mainstream products are reviewed if they would meet or fail a disability need very well/badly could this be added as a filter or a recommendation in the review. This may alert those who are looking at that type of product, of those that meet the need or even those that don’t eg easy to clean, hard to disassemble, too many fiddly parts, easy to hold or pick up are some of the things it would be good to see commented on.

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Big topic, broad request, but important none the less. I concur :slight_smile:

In addition to the products themselves, reviewing providers and implications on health cover/etc maybe also worthwhile. The challenge might be to divide and categorise such things so it is easily accessible and meaningful, but I reckon that’s probably quite doable

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A very good idea @draughtrider! Thank you for those suggestions, hopefully CHOICE can act on them to all our benefit.

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Great idea. I already use a stick, and I am looking to get a rail for the toilet and shower at some time. I bought one of those suction cup grab handles and found it to be completely useless. When you grab, because you’re losing your balance, your weight on it tears it off the wall.

I’m in the market for a shower stool and a scooter. I still drive, but I can’t walk very far without assistance, so I’ve decided to switch at some time in the nearish future.

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Thanks for the request @grahroll, I’ll be sure to flag this with our product testing team :+1:

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Perhaps an easy way to wade in is a buyers guide. I have come to notice there are speciality companies about that one should expect caters to certain disabled segments, but they also appear to often charge top end or even higher than just top prices. Most or at least many of their speciality products are available on the ‘open market’ once you know what are the best words to search on, at lower or often significantly lower prices from even onshore sources that are not speciality focused. It has been flagged in another topic where @SueW reported sourcing a CPAP machine, as an example, from the USA at half our local cost.

Due to larger markets elsewhere all sorts of disabled and medical hardware products have greater choice as well as cost less and often far less than locally, even after paying GST and shipping. One could reasonably expect disabled people could have more financial challenges than most of us to exacerbate their buying quandaries.

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There is certainly merit in buyers guides, perhaps with some help from one or two of the not for profits who have daily experience.

We learnt the hard way with my father that not all mobility aids are created equal. Basic products such as commode seats through to walkers etc show style, durability, compatibility/useability and value variations that are as confusing to isolate as many every day purchases. Added complexity in the design of key features may suit some but not all needs. The brake designs and activating levers on walkers might be a simple illustrative example. Some are easy to grasp and apply while others defy all but the least arthritic of grips.

Go for it! :smiley:

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I’ve been thinking about this for a while, though Assistive Technology Australia does a good job of giving a round up of things that are available - but there aren’t any evaluations.

The accessibility sector has so many subjective requirements for individuals, we’re cautious about going into the arena given many people will have their own requirements. We don’t have any real understanding of these requirements in house, no nurses, or physios on staff.

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It will be a challenge. Having accessed the NDIS and talked to a variety of suppliers, the disability supplies market is HUGE and getting bigger by the day. Also as @mark_m & @MattSteen noted, there is no one size fits all. Every disabled person has to find what works for them with their particular needs and abilities. Therefore it would be very difficult to generalise that something is good for ‘disabled people’.

What may work over and above

are features which may be tagged as useful/necessary for some disabled people such as ‘clear large font instruction and labeling’, or “has an easy to grasp ergonomic grip”, etc.

It should be easy for disabled people to find disability friendly products through Choice, that may not necessarily be the best or most economical, but ones with designs that they could possibly use.

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Perhaps asking some disability services what their clients/members need. They as I noted before may even be happy to provide subjects and supplies to help test the products. I am sure they would be interested in getting better evaluations of the items and CHOICE with it’s rigour of testing would be able to quickly pick up safety issues, usability issues, value for money and such issues.

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Choice covered costs of mobility aids and assistive technologies other aids a few years ago…

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Great idea, both for ‘disability’ product reviews and reviews of everyday products for accessibility and functionality. No doubt, just as we have cots and pushchairs on the market that are badly designed and unsafe, the same will sadly be the case for wheelchairs and walkers etc. These products are expensive and can have a huge impact on quality of life. With an increasing number of aged and disabled in Australia Choice should be considering this part of the market.

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