A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Handicare's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Handicare is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP


Highlighting best practice
Clare Brophy, Handicare UK
managing director
Handicare’s straight and curved
stairlifts help to make life easier
for people all over the world
Based in Kingswinford, Dudley, Handicare is a global market
leader in offering solutions and support that increase the
independence of the physically challenged or elderly. The
goal is to enable them to live an active life on their terms, and to
make everyday life easier for them, their family and careproviders.
The UK’s ageing population and the fact that more people want
to continue living at home means that the potential is huge for
the growth of services such as those of Handicare. Demand for
home adaptations such as stairlifts and accessible bathrooms is
rising; the challenge is to meet that demand ethically in a sector
that is self-regulated which has had issues with pressure selling
and customer service standards. Clare Brophy, the company’s
UK managing director, writes thefollowing.
Handicare’s UK division was established in 2010 following the acquisition of stairlift
manufacturers Minivator and Freelift. Since then, the UK operation has continued
to build on firm foundations to become one of the leading providers of stairlifts in
the UK. We manufacture stairlifts and service all areas of the marketplace from our
site in the West Midlands. We continually improve our offer: locally through our
network of high street retail partners including mobility dealers and shops; through
local authorities, where we are acutely aware of the funding challenges; and as
a national brand supplying direct to consumers. We also export our stairlifts to
countries including the US, China and Australia.
»Managing director in the
UK and commercial lead
for stairlifts outside North
America: Clare Brophy
»Based in Stockholm, with
six manufacturing and
assembly sites including one in
Kingswinford, West Midlands
»Services: Manufacture
of straight and curved
stairlifts, transfer, lifting
and repositioning aids,
vehicle accessibility products
and solutions and medical
»No. of employees: Approximately
1,200, with 280 in the UK
»Turnover: 284.3 million
»Global company with sales in
more than 20 countries
Handicare Group
In the UK, Handicare has worked with
leading charity for the elderly Age UK
for over ten years and provides Age UK
Stairlifts and Age UK Easy Bathing in
association with Age UK Trading CIC.
This relationship has helped to improve
how our team operates by better
understanding the needs of older
people, their families and carers. We
strive to make everyday life easier for
our customers and offer a fair service,
even recommending they investigate
other suppliers and options; our desire
is to find the best solution for them.
Through our work with partners, we
have proved how ethical selling can
enhance sales performance by putting
the customer at the heart of everything
we do.
Commitment to manufacturing
Handicare’s commitment to
manufacturing excellence in the
UK was recognised following an
intense period of external audits at
the end of 2017. The site is the first
in the Handicare Group to achieve
accreditations for upgrading to the
new quality standard (ISO 9001:2015),
obtaining the new environmental
standard (ISO 14001:2015), and to
maintain the health & safety (OHSAS
18001) standard.
In the past 12 months, over £500,000
has been invested in Industry 4.0
manufacturing technologies including
robot welders for smoother rail joints
and complex three-dimensional
helix bends. In addition, production
improvements have led to increased
output and reduced lead times – an
important factor when considering
how quickly most customers need a
stairlift installing once the decision to
purchase is made.
Challenging stigma
We are very conscious of the role we
play in helping people to live at home for
as long as possible. We make it easier for
people to choose an alternative to going
into care, or importantly, delaying the
care home environment. By working as
an Age UK commercial partner we can
reach a larger audience, making them
aware of alternative solutions which
are available and affordable.
This has far-reaching benefits for
individuals, their families, their carers and
the wider health service, where budgets
Handicare is an Age UK
commercial partner,
providing home
adaptations to thousands
of customers every year
are like any
other home
aroute to
making life a
little easier
Highlighting best practice
are stretched and there is immense
pressure on adaptation funding awards.
Our customer service goes beyond
the customer journey; it extends to
educating people that home adaptations
are like any other home appliance: a
route to making life a littleeasier.
We want to be the go-to brand in the
marketplace for more than superior
product quality; we want to have
customer service that is secondtonone.
Trusted customer service
Everyone at Handicare – from the sales
and customer service teams to the
surveyors and engineers – regularly
deals with some of the most vulnerable
people in society, so customer service
has to be first class. As an Age UK
commercial partner, providing home
adaptations to thousands of customers
every year, Handicare is subject to
regular reviews and assessments.
To further reassure people Handicare
is a member of the British Healthcare
Trades Association (BHTA), as well as
a retail partner of the British Institute
of Kitchen, Bedroom & Bathroom
Installation (BiKBBI). Customers are
encouraged to share product and
service reviews on the independent
review system Feefo, which resulted
in a Gold Trusted Service Award
for us in 2018. The award is an
independent seal of excellence that
recognises businesses for delivering
exceptional experiences, as rated by
real customers. Handicare’s direct
selling division, Companion, is a
Which? Trusted Trader and a member
of Trading Standards’ Buy With
Confidence approved trader scheme.
Investment in people is a cornerstone
of our strategy for the future. Our
marketplace is growing, and like many
other businesses, we face increasing
competition for the available talent.
By focusing on our sector’s social
impact we can attract those people
who are seeking employers who make
the world a better place: from the
manufacturing end of the supply chain
right through to the people selling,
installing and maintaining the life-
changing equipment they produce.
We are working with the UK’s leading
organiser of paid student work
placements and graduate internships,
Step, to identify young talent. Last
year, we welcomed our first design
interns and a graduate production
engineer tothe team. Also, a new
apprenticeship programme has seen
two new recruits joining to get their
first experience of working in a factory.
The future
We want to encourage people to
consider home adaptations earlier,
not after a fall when help is most
needed. We want to ensure they are
available to all, to minimise the cost,
to create independent living solutions
which fit with home environments.
We will continue to expand our
cost-effective, quality solutions at
the same time delivering exceptional
customer experiences which set the
Investment in
people is a
cornerstone of
our strategy
for the future
In 2017, Handicare’s
programme saw two new
recruits getting their first
experience of working in


This article was sponsored by Handicare. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister