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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There are many disability aids. BTW they are aids for people with disabilities. The aids don’t have impairments.

Last year I replaced my 7 year old powered wheelchair. I wanted a model that lifts me up to reach top shelves, and lies me completely flat, to reduce pain. Aussie models don’t seem to have this. The German model was $39,000.

The first thing you notice financial about having a disability is the cost of goods and services. Are companies ripping PWD off?

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I’m very late to this reply, sorry @grahroll.

We used to do this with the ILC NSW, now ATA mentioned in my original comment. We had a member from ATA come out who were physical therapists for disability to assess each of the washers, dryers, dishwashers and fridges. Of course, the catch 22 is that this slowed down testing, which then made it less likely we would be able to publish prior to something becoming discontinued.

This disappeared about 5yrs ago when ATA lost a lot of its physical therapists (we dont know why, probably funding). They didn’t have enough to come out, so we put together the information they gave to us in a couple of accessibility articles.



And I wrote a piece some time ago around Ageing and accessibility with the help of Professor Blackler;

We did have plans for doing a piece on assistive walkers this year, but they’ve been temporarily shelved since COVID.

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I know a really good one that would be relatively easy for Choice to add into their testing - Hearing aid compatibility, especially as far as bluetooth etc, for phones, tvs, and anything else that has an audio output.
A lot of devices say they are compatible, but its not great. For instance, I tried the bluetooth audio connection on my Fetch Mini box the other day and its dodgy as. Some Smart TVs will do it, others won’t. I can probably find this info myself, but considering the first place I go to compare options is Choice, it would be SUPER CONVENIENT to be able to see this at a glance.
Whether something has a bluetooth capability/Hearing aid compatibility, and how good it is would be info I would LOVE to have prior to purchasing an item.

Mobility aids must be a large market, when you consider the numbers now part of the NDIS or with aged care support.

We’ve been exposed progressively to different aspects of the market as our parents have aged. Some recent observations suggests it needs more serious consumer attention.

We’ve finally purchased a recliner lift chair for our 90+ mum who is in aged care. Curiously several of the suppliers we approached were super keen to determine if she had a package. And surprised we were talking to them without that assistance. Also of interest was the pricing. What we were advised as pricing by the online sales staff for one business appeared to be different to what we were quoted in store by personal service staff. It was cheaper in store once we had clarified it was a direct purchase! At nearly $3,000 for the purchase it is amazing the difference in cost compared to the average multifunction lounge room equivalent.

Choice had a brief look at one aspect of the industry arms length 4 years ago. It’s an area, given the extent of other issues with disability and aged care that deserves a critical review. A desktop market assessment might be a good place to start and assist with identifying specific services or items for further advice or review.

(https://www.choice.com.au/shopping/online-shopping/buying-online/articles/cost-of-mobility-aids-and-assistive-technology)

P.S.
It’s surprising that at her level of care and health such items are not provided by the Aged Care facility. A $450,000 accomodation bond or $3,500 approx monthly rent for a room, and all you get is a basic chair provided. In our mum’s circumstances she went directly from independent living at home to a supported aged care facility, hospital and rehab in between.

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Fridge accessibility is an interesting one…

  • Small and shallow fridges allow for easier access to items.

But sadly there are so few shallow fridges on the market. The only one I know of, which I can also afford, is a 251L CHiQ. Everything else seems to be 660deep or more. Or costing in excess of $2-4k. I’m afraid to buy the CHiQ in case its a dud.

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A reasonable position, although it can be mitigated under the ACL. Further if one punts for The Good Guys Concierge service (extra cost, normally not warranted) they have a good reputation for fielding all problems without hesitation.

Considering the features you have stated as important, from price to form factor, and until end July they are offering a 5 year warranty in lieu of 3, it might be a reasonable punt since you seem to have a choice of 1 product anyway?

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Nice idea but I will be buying from Appliances Online, because then I do not have to fret over how to get rid of the old fridge. Also, free delivery and removal. And… I’ve had bad experiences with the Good Guys in the past, when I didnt know anything about the ACL. [edit] Thought I would look, but they dont have a bottom mount CHiQ in any case. I need that, for my back. Icurrently have a 340L top mount Westinghouse which is perfectly good, but because its so deep, I have to store everything as close to the front of the shelf as possible. Getting the veggies out from the bottom is painful.

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My bad. You had posted all that previously. Still, the extra warranty is something of an incentive - unless the fridge just doesn’t cool well. In that case if you have an email exchange with AoL asking questions about the products cooling uniformity, how well it keep food fresh, and so on (eg the Choice how we test items), and it is a lemon in those regards, you could hang your hat on the ACL since you made your needs known and they sold you a product that did not meet them.

I have not bought many things from AoL but the few I have, they have been an excellent ‘shop’, although I never had a product problem with any of it.

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