Wheelchair skills training aims to provide mobility retail staff with expert knowledge and insights
A peer-led wheelchair skills training course is offering to provide mobility retailers’ staff with expert training and insights into how individuals can get the most out of life whilst using a wheelchair.
Established by owner Stuart Wheeler in June 2015, Freedom Wheelchair Skills specialises in providing wheelchair skills training, improving wheelchair users’ confidence and independence.
A wheelchair user of 20 years, Stuart first became involved in wheelchair training in 1999 after completing courses with spinal charity BackUp, before being approached by the charity to deliver peer-led wheelchair skills training to newly injured individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Having been delivering wheelchair skills training for more than 12 years across the country in spinal centres and gaining accreditation through his work with BackUp, Stuart later found that people with a range of needs could benefit from the training and decided to form Freedom Wheelchair Skills.
“I train anyone who needs knowledge in using wheelchairs safely and with confidence,” he told THIIS.
“This can be the end-user but also medical professionals and retailers in the mobility industry.”
With around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK, according to NHS England, and with two-thirds being regular users, wheelchair users make up a key demographic for a wide range of mobility retailers.
Emphasising that his training sessions provide important and valuable insights to those working with and selling to wheelchair users, Stuart says his training can help retail staff give more in-depth customer service.
“The training can help retailers and medical professionals get a better understanding of what it is like for the end-user to use a wheelchair, whether permanently, like myself, or part-time,” continued Stuart.
“When medical professionals and retailers learn the vital skills I teach, they can share them with the end-user, giving them a better quality of life – but there is no better learning than peer-led, so the above can also recommend me having the first-hand experience of my training.”
In addition to learning fundamental and advanced wheelchair skills, the sessions also provide customer service staff with the opportunity to benefit from Stuart’s own experience, acquiring useful knowledge that can improve their interactions with customers.
“Having to rely on using a wheelchair can be daunting for some, so people who receive training from me also benefit from my experience of living life having to use a wheelchair,” explained Stuart.
“The sessions include sharing information and stories about various subjects, holidaying, flying, gigging, family life – I’m a father to a six-year-old – playing sport and more.”
Recently, research by disabled consumer charity Purple revealed a lack of understanding relating to disability is a key factor to discouraging a consumer to purchase from a retailer, reinforcing the need for retail staff need to be knowledgeable on both products and disabled consumers’ needs.
For one-to-one training at Stuart’s location, Freedom Wheelchair Skills charges £180 for a three-hour session, which includes an assessment call with the end-user or caregiver / professional that knows them well to discuss individual needs, goals and abilities in order to maximise the use of time.
In addition to the training, Stuart also provides reminder sheets for each skill learnt, a sporting strap for safe practice and a follow-up call a month post-training to discuss individual skill progression.
“The cost of training is kept as reasonable as possible so it can be available to everyone,” he finished.
“If I travel to the client for one-to-one training, I charge £70 per hour (minimum of two hours) and 40p per mile travel expenses and £125 possible overnight charge depending on the distance. They also get assessment call etc.
“Group training costs are £80 per hour for organisations and the same travel expenses as above, with options of reminder sheets etc. Max number of people in the group is five – this is a good number to monitor individual skill development and progress.”
Able to cover the UK for training, Stuart says a suitable training venue needs to be made available by the customer, such as a local hall or private house/garden and the company does not supply wheelchairs for people to use for training.
The training may prove particularly useful for retailers that have taken on team members new to the mobility industry, improving their knowledge of the needs and wants of their customers, as well as improving their understanding and expertise.
To find out more about Freedom Wheelchair Skills, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07482151537
To see Stuart in action, see below: