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DLF celebrates 40th year with launch of 'Living made easy'

6th April 2009

It happens to us all, whatever our situation. At some point in our lives we begin to find some daily activities difficult. We may have trouble getting up from our favourite armchair, or climbing the stairs, or need help getting in and out of the bath.

Buying products that can help with these tasks can seem daunting, especially when it comes to purchasing expensive items such as stairlifts, bath lifts or riser-recliner chairs. With so many different products available, how do you know what you’re buying is right for you, that you’re dealing with a reputable company and that the price you are paying is reasonable? Although there are many excellent companies out there with high standards and ethical sales forces, you only have to read the newspapers to see stories of how other unscrupulous retailers are failing the customer by coercing them to buy expensive products that are not suitable for their needs. So where can you go to get information to help you navigate this minefield?

For many years national charity the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) has helped through its telephone Helpline service, answering 25,000 enquiries a year. Now, in its 40th year, DLF has launched a groundbreaking new service that will see its impartial advice and information on equipment reach a much wider audience - Living made easy (www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk). This innovative new online advice and information portal sees DLF release all the expert advice and information it has built up over the last four decades out to the public on the internet for the very first time.

So what exactly is Living made easy and what makes it different from other websites out there? Chris Shaw, DLF’s Chief Executive, explains “Living made easy is unique in that it brings together information on every product available in the UK into one single place, allowing people to easily compare products and make informed decisions about what might help them. All the advice and information has been created by our team of expert occupational therapists so that visitors can get as much information as they need before contacting a supplier.”

Shaw continues “But it’s not just our advice and information that makes the portal unique. Over the last 40 years DLF has gathered a great deal of knowledge about all the suppliers in the marketplace and we are using this to develop features in the site that will really help people. For example, as an impartial provider of information we will always include details of every product and national supplier in the website. However, we want to make sure people make good decisions and we know that some companies in this marketplace have a reputation for taking advantage of vulnerable people. There are lots of excellent suppliers with very high standards but there are also some unscrupulous ones out there.”

“Therefore, we’ve developed a unique DLF rating system that rates products based on things like whether suppliers have provided a price for the product. We also differentiate between suppliers who have signed up to certain industry Codes of Conduct and those that haven’t to help direct people to companies we know have excellent standards. By rating more highly those products that fulfil these criteria we hope to not only help people make better decisions but also drive change in the industry by encouraging manufacturers and suppliers to become more open about their pricing and to improve their standards by signing up to Codes of Conduct.”

Living made easy does not just provide advice and information. It also allows people to share their own experiences by joining its online Forum. People can review products themselves and rate them, similar to how you can review books on Amazon, and can discuss products with other people in the Forum. The Forum also allows you to do things like contact DLF’s team of occupational therapists for expert advice if you are not sure what you need.

Initially Living made easy is focussing on information around bathing, the bedroom, the stairs and telecare (gadgets that allow you to live independently at home knowing that you can raise an alarm to a remote call centre if you have a problem e.g. if you fall), with sections on chairs and children’s equipment due to be added shortly. However, over the next twelve months more sections will be added, including household gadgets, toileting and eating and drinking equipment.

Shaw concludes “With the number of older people in the country rising rapidly, the need for this kind of service is obvious. We are delighted that we have been able to launch it in our 40th year and look forward to developing the site further over the coming twelve months. We are very grateful to those companies that have supported us so far and hope that the industry will continue to support our work and realise the benefits of making their information available to millions of people in this way.”

Living made easy is supported by the Department of Health and the Department for Children, Schools and Families and commercial supporters including Home Retail Group, B&Q, Nottingham Rehab Supplies, Tunstall, Arjo, Mangar International, Mountway, Kingkraft, AKW MediCare, Theraposture, Stannah Stairlifts, Kirton Healthcare, Days Healthcare, Hill-rom and Centromed UK.

Further information and images

Please contact Hugh Dobie, Marketing Officer, Disabled Living Foundation on tel 020 7289 6111 ext 211 or email hugh.dobie@dlf.org.uk

Notes for editors

DLF is the UK’s leading source of expert information, advice and training on independent living for older or disabled people. We want every older or disabled person to have the impartial information and expert advice they need to make choices about their daily lives – and front-line staff to be well trained and well informed.

DLF's information is disseminated through a wide range of services. Members of the public can obtain advice from DLF's Helpline service, which responds to up to 25,000 enquiries a year, or try products out at its Equipment Demonstration Centre in London, one of the largest in the UK.

DLF also provides a range of online services at www.dlf.org.uk, including:

  • ‘Living made easy’, (www.livingmadeeasy.org.uk), an impartial advice and information website about daily living equipment.
  • Free factsheets giving advice on a wide range of topics about disability and mobility products and choosing equipment for older and disabled people.
  • AskSARA, (www.asksara.org.uk), an online advice tool that guides people to appropriate useful advice and information on products that can help them.

Healthcare professionals benefit from DLF Data, the UK’s only comprehensive and up-to-date database of daily living equipment and assistive technology and an extensive Training Programme including a variety of bespoke courses. They also attend the DLF Moving & Handling People conference, an annual event in 3 parts comprising an exhibition, practical workshops and plenary sessions.
 

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