Handicare Academy image
Workshop sessions include training videos and practical demonstrations

With our ageing population investing more in adaptations so they can stay mobile and independent at home for longer, demand for safe and reliable equipment is expected to continue to rise. So too is the need for a skilled workforce to carry out installations and maintain that equipment. Stairlift manufacturer Handicare has invested in a new facility at its Kingswinford site in the Midlands to support the development of its own and its partners’ teams of engineers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened awareness and reduced the stigma of home adaptations, with more single person and multi-generational households investing in products to make living at home easier vs moving to a nursing or care home. It has also forced public health authorities and governments to consider more urgent action to tackle the major challenge for health and social care systems to cope with the ageing population.

Supporting engineers

Anticipating a surge in demand for its straight and curved stairlifts, Handicare is extending its training and technical support for engineers installing and maintaining them.

Handicare’s Paul Stockdill, Sales & Marketing Director, explained: “Many people are more determined than ever to stay in their own home if they need care and are starting to future-proof their homes at an earlier age. We strongly believe an ageing population means more homes will need to be adapted to make them easier and more comfortable to live in for people in later life.

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“We need to act now to make sure we have the skilled workforce to cope with the increase in demand for products and services, and that means both attracting more people into our sector and giving them the training and support they need to succeed.”

With over half of its stairlifts reaching end-users through its trade channel, Handicare’s support for its partners has long been regarded as an industry benchmark. In terms of technical training, its Handicare Academy ensures engineers employed by partners receive regular in-person training on all its models, requiring certificates to be maintained and refresher courses taken every two years.

Now, the Academy facilities at its UK headquarters in Kingswinford have been extended to cope with the expected increase in demand from its trade partner, direct and local authority sales channels.

Paul Stockdill image
Paul Stockdill, Handicare’s Sales & Marketing Director

Driving improvements

The new training room has eight stations for engineers to get hands-on and install products onto a staircase, as well as dedicated desks for workshop sessions where training videos and practical demonstrations can be shared, all while observing strict social distancing rules of keeping two metres apart.

Rob Wood, Senior Technical and Training Engineer, and Lee Craig, Technical Support Manager, have over 35 years’ experience of Handicare’s products between them. They are driving improvements in the delivery of training and support for Handicare’s 180+ strong partner network.

“Providing the training and support which means partners and local authority teams can install our stairlifts confidently is an absolute must for us,” says Rob. “We believe it can make all the difference to the teams who are helping customers. Our approach is very much focused on creating a good outcome for end-users and that means making sure our partners know our products inside out so they’re confident they’re fitting exactly what their customer needs and maintaining them to the highest safety standards.”

Dealers who invest in the skills of their engineers by sending them to manufacturers like Handicare for training quickly see a return in terms of the amount of time it takes for them to install products including stairlifts, as well as to diagnose and solve problems.

“We also find that our partners benefit from promoting their credentials in product knowledge and training; our Partner Programme gives them credibility in the eyes of their customer who is seeking reassurance about the quality of the retailer,” added Rob.

Handicare Training Academy
Engineers get hands-on with installing products onto a staircase

Online training

During lockdown in 2020, face-to-face training opportunities were very limited so Handicare launched an online training programme, HandicareLive. The response was huge. Almost 200 people attended a total of 48 live sessions delivered using video calling with 100 per cent positive feedback.

Following this success, Handicare plans to launch an online library of training sessions later this year so partners can access the resources on-demand. There’s also an online support tool in the pipeline, which will help apprentices and engineers who are new to Handicare’s products access the information they need quickly and easily from mobile devices while they are on site installing or repairing stairlifts.

The Technical Service Desk also allows partners to access direct support from a team of Handicare’s experienced senior engineers. Rob and Lee have been joined on this team by Gordon Kerr, a time-served lift engineer with a decade of experience at Handicare. He’s keen to help engineers on site, whether they’re carrying out routine maintenance or fixing a breakdown.

“I know how important it is to find the solution to a problem when you’re on site. It can be quite stressful when you can’t fix something and you’re in the customer’s home. I’ve been there, I know what it’s like,” says Gordon.

With increasing demand for stairlifts and the additional health and safety introduced due to Covid-19, Gordon knows there are more pressures than ever on engineers to get the job done quickly.

“I want to give our partners the confidence to know they’ll find the answers every time.”

Partners can book training sessions at the Handicare Academy through their Business Development Manager or by calling TPS on 0844 225 3121.

Comments from partners on Handicare’s technical training

“Please pass my thanks onto Rob Wood for his brilliant efforts yesterday for the 1100 training. I thoroughly enjoyed it and learnt a great deal.” Sandeep Singh, Logistics Manage, 24/7 Healthcare

‘Thoroughly enjoyed it’ ‘Very comprehensive’ ‘Really informative’, Jackson Lifts

“Really clear video guidance and explanations.” Mobile Mobility (HandicareLive 2020)

“At Handicare you have the excellent training, the good support and they’re always there when you need them. Handicare’s service is marvellous. They are one of the best in the industry.” Mike Williams, Ableworld

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