Host: Edward and Mel, delighted to have you back on the show this week. How have you both been?
Mel: Good, thank you.
Edward: Great, thank you. It’s been a good two weeks.
Mel: It has.
Host: Yeah, how’s it been at Cornwall Mobility?
Edward: Oh, busy. Very busy.
Mel: Especially since the Open Day, it’s really done well.
Edward: Yeah, we’ve done well since that. It’s been really good, actually.
Host: Fantastic! Several hits on your website, I hope?
Edward: Yeah, we’ve been looking at some of these web statistics and we have had a bunch of people looking, which is really really good to see. So today, we’re going to talk about our assessment process, and Mel is going to give us some detail about what it’s like to actually come to us, but I think first of all, I was just going to explore a little bit about why would any member of the public or listener need to know about us? We’re, just to remind our listeners, that we’re from Cornwall Mobility - the Cornwall Mobility Center, which is at Treliske next to the Hospital. The key thing really is that almost every family at some point has someone in the family who will need assistance with their mobility - that is getting around, or with their independent living - in other words, being able to cope at home - whether that’s living alone at home or part of a family group. So everybody needs to know, really, of the services freely available, and the advice that can be sought from organizations such as ours. The thing is you never know when it’s going to happen to you, and the sort of people that we see are very often extremely stressed because they’ve suffered some trauma of some sort, either through accident, illness or through a loved one getting into those sorts of situations. And what we try and offer is reassurance and knowledge and expertise to advise them as to what is best for them to do. And so that’s just a lead-in to the detail that Mel is going to give.
Host: So Mel, what happens then when people walk through your door?
Mel: Well, first and foremost, they’re greeted by our reception staff, who will, if they’re having to wait a short time, offer them tea and refreshment. We like to make people feel comfortable, first and foremost. If they’ve made an appointment before hand, which we do encourage if they are coming to ask about something specific because we like to give one-to-one time. If they’ve just dropped in, that’s fine, we encourage that too but when they meet with us, depending on what they’ve come to see us about, we’ll determine what the assessment process is. Now when I use the word ‘assessment’, sometimes that can be a bit scary for people, and I don’t want that to put people off. It’s not a test. What we mean is that we want to find out what their problems are, and hopefully empower them to address those problems. Now, it might be a physical problem, it might even be a psychological problem, but we encourage people to come to us and discuss it so that we can then find the right solution. So we take them into the showroom, hopefully we find a quiet little corner somewhere, and find out about them. We use a holistic approach. Some of my team come from an occupational therapy background, and we use that same approach in really chatting to them, finding out what their lifestyle is, particularly if they are looking for a larger piece of equipment. Let’s take you through a typical assessment of maybe - let’s look at a riser recliner chair or a seating of any sort. We’ll find out what it is they are struggling with. Often, it’s getting out of a chair, or they might have been told they have a particular medical condition which means they must elevate their legs. There’s two scenarios there. So we will ask them about where the chair’s going to be situated, what the medical condition is because we do have a certain amount of medical knowledge ourselves, so we’re aware of the physiology and what’s required. We then actually measure the individual, and some people are actually quite surprised by that because you go into a furniture shop and buy a chair, and nobody thinks to actually measure you. But the important thing is the fit. The chair needs to fit them, so we will measure them. We then actually get them to physically try various options in the showroom so we can pinpoint what their choices are going to be, if they have any. It might be during the process of the assessment that there aren’t any choices, or it might be that they’ve got an overwhelming number of choices. The key thing is that we spend time. We can spend up to an hour in choosing a chair, sometimes longer. I have been known to spend a whole afternoon with one individual. It really depends on that person, but the key thing is we spend that time on a one-to-one basis and hopefully help them with their problems.
Host: Now after that initial time spent with them, is there a continued sort of relationship with that client?
Mel: Hopefully there is. Hopefully they have had a really good experience with us, and they will come back - and often they do. We have very regular customers. If it’s a big item where it may raise an issue about their home situation, a safety issue perhaps. Or is the item they are considering purchasing actually going to fit? Do they have the means to store whatever it is - for instance if it’s a scooter or a power chair? Are they actually thinking things through? Is the access of their property correct? There is a whole holistic approach. We have to look at the whole situation, not just about what they think they want to buy, because often people don’t think about the bigger picture. A prime example is when people come in to have a bathing assessment for instance, they might be coming in, they think they want a bath lift. They’ve seen adverts in the Sunday papers showing this wonderful bath lift that inflates that is going to give them everything they want. And we ask them all sorts of questions, and often they don’t know the answers. A simple one can be: “Have you got rails on the side of your bath?” And they look at you quite blankly and say, “I don’t know!” Because we all take these sort of things for granted, so we’re often thinking things that they haven’t even thought about, and talking them through situations. We will ask them about access to their property, for instance, if they’re going to need to get a power chair or even something simple like a four wheel walker in and out of the house. They haven’t thought about where they’re going to store it. Can they fold it? In the case of a scooter or a power chair or something that needs charging, have they got the facilities to charge it? Can they actually lift the charger or the battery or whatever is needed? It does make people think, you know. It’s not that simple as just ordering something. You have to think about the bigger picture, and that’s what the word ‘assessment’ means, really. It’s not scary, and hopefully we’re not scary. We are quite friendly people!
Host: You mentioned obviously, sometimes it’s very dependent on the set up at home, you know, if there’s space for other things. Do you ever do assessments in people’s homes?
Mel: We do, yeah. If we feel there is a safety issue or if somebody genuinely cannot get to us for whatever reason, we will carry out a home visit. Obviously, we have to be sensible. If it’s for something really small, mail order might be the better option, but certainly we will visit people in their homes.
Host: So with these assessments, are there a cost involved?
Mel: No, certainly not. It’s a free service. We don’t charge for that at all, and we don’t charge for home visits either.
Host: Do you get a lot of referrals from the hospital?
Mel: We do. We get referrals from the hospital, we get referrals from other allied professionals, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, both from hospitals and in the community. District nurses will send clients to us. Often carers who work for care agencies will either come and see them themselves on behalf of a client, or they will recommend us to their clients, so we’re quite well-known from that point of view in the community, not so much by the public so that’s what we’re trying to encourage.
Host: It’s quite interesting, actually, at the beginning because Edward you mentioned pretty much every family would have someone within their family who would need a piece of this sort of equipment at any one time, and the knowledge about it is so little. Quite surprising actually.
Edward: I think people just don’t realize what there is available until they really need something, and then they don’t know where to go. If they go to a district nurse or a health professional of some sort, or even their GP, we would hope that those health professionals would know about us. But sometimes, people just go on the internet and panic and don’t know what to do, and so the public awareness thing for us is important - just the long term things so people know that there is someone out there who actually offers a free advisory service and that we’re right next to the hospital, and that’s very important. Or you can go online and find us at our new website www.cornwallmobility.co.uk . I mean I should emphasize that we are a charity, we’re a not-for-profit company and that is why we are able to offer the free part of our service, which is to do what Mel was just describing, and then we can advise on a solution. Now that solution, quite often, is that we could source a piece of equipment, either one we’ve got in stock already or something that we can get for somebody. But we are impartial about what we supply. We don’t supply one particular supplier’s equipment. We work with all sorts of different companies, depending on the need of the client. So my point is we do the freebie assessment, but then the client is free to choose whatever they like with somebody else, or off the internet if they like, but at least they’ll have our advice. So the message at the moment is that we’re right next to the hospital, website is www.cornwallmobility.co.uk and we’re also on Twitter and Facebook.
Mel: So even if people just want advice from you, you’re willing to give it basically and ask for people to come in and find you and contact you?
Edward: Indeed. We take thousands of calls a year, many of which are advisory. It doesn’t mean we have thousands of people coming over the threshold.
Mel: We wish we had.
Edward: Yes, that would be good. But we simply want to get the message out there that there is someone out there for you to talk about these sorts of issues on a free, no holds barred basis.
Host:Well, brilliant. Mel and Edward, thank you again for your time, and for your advice today. And just to remind us, the website is...
Edward: The website is www.cornwallmobility.co.uk
Host: And it’s still fairly new, so it should look pretty swish.
Edward: Yeah, it’s still pretty contemporary. It’s only three weeks old.
Host: Well, fantastic. Thank you both for your time.
Edward: Thank you very much.
Mel: Thank you.