Naidex completed its residence at the NEC last week with its biggest yet speaker programme (over 100 speakers), more trade networking with many successful facilitated meetings held onsite and more business features than ever before. Naidex also attracted many local authority community equipment buyers – it remains the only event supporting the trade sector, healthcare professionals and end users and is the UK’s largest event for independent living.
High profile speakers motivated the crowd at the start of the week with their personal stories. Most notable were Baroness Tani Grey-Thompson OBE who is chair of the Wheelchair Leadership Alliance and Paralympic world champion Hannah Cockroft MBE. Both were also filmed by national TV crews, along with exhibitors – Hannah commented: “I think Naidex is fantastic – it’s everything a disabled person needs to find their independence in one place.”
Novelist Valerie Blumenthal, former world champion mountain bike trials rider, Martyn Ashton (on RGK stand), Jody Cundy MBE (with Chartwell Insurance Services) and Paralympic gold medalist, Josie Pearson MBE (with ‘get living it’) also shared their stories at Naidex.
Furthermore, the Naidex Ambassadors met with 13 Local Authorities and business leaders on how best to spend the £10,000 Naidex fund. There was widespread agreement that a public awareness campaign to help end users, their families and carers source information, products and advice was most important. It will be a unique Local Authority and business joined up effort to help demystify the commissioning and care system to support longer term independent living at home. More details will be announced soon.
Matthew Tingey, event director said: “It’s been incredible to hear so many inspirational stories and see how the independent living sector is evolving to develop new products and services to help enable people to live independently at home for longer. We’ve created so many new features, from the Product Forum Stage to the facilitated meetings at Naidex.Connects., which were a huge success and have been warmly welcomed by the Naidex exhibitors and visitors. The OT theatres and healthcare seminars have again been packed out, along with the specialist Community Equipment Professionals’ Forum and other specialist meetings.
“We continue to be the only show meeting the needs of everyone affected by and supporting independent living, and our dedicated brand campaigns have been successful in reaching and attracting those audiences and retaining the position of the UK’s number one event for homecare and rehabilitation in the UK. We’re also delighted to be able to confirm the dates for Naidex 2016, which will be 26 to 28 April, taking place in the larger halls of 6 and 7 at the NEC in 2016.”
Exhibitor Clive Noakes, director at telmenow.com supported this and said: “For us, it’s that link between the consumers and the professionals that Naidex offers that the other shows don’t.” Ian Grey MD at RollerScoot added: “Naidex is a fantastic platform for end users, trade, professionals and it’s the best all round event of the year. It’s been established for years and we’ve found the quality to be much higher than we have at other events.”
Doing business and launching products at Naidex
Trade visitors enjoyed the most successful trade programme to date with a range of new features, including the first Naidex.Connects., which secured around 115 facilitated meetings for retailers and dealers. Trade networking opportunities and training also increased this year, with the new Community Equipment Professionals’ Forum and training workshops from Foundations.
Foundations, the national body for home improvement agency and handyperson services, ran the popular free training workshops with AKW on 28 April for technical officers, Occupational Therapists and other healthcare professionals involved in the design and project management of adaptations.
Community equipment specialists also attended the highly popular forum on day one. David Griffiths, MD at Medequip said: “It’s not often that we manage to collect so many people together who have got significant experience and knowledge about community equipment and the implications of any legislative changes like the Care Act. So this forum at Naidex has been a great opportunity to meet, listen and network together. The turnout has been very good and I’d like to invite anyone who is a decision maker in community equipment or assistive technology, or anyone who is commissioning those services, to attend and engage with the forum in the future.”
The Trade Stage was constantly filled, offering a range of professional business advice, including a talk on selecting products to sell online from Chris Sowter, vendor manager at Amazon. Chris commented: “It’s great to get our hands on the products exhibited at Naidex, see how they’re presented to customers and how we can transfer that to the online world.”
A wide range of new products and services were also launched at Naidex, including Gyroset™ from Now Technologies Ltd (integrated wheelchair control platform enabling people with tetraplegia and other disabilities to live a fuller life) and the new shock-absorbing Loopwheels for wheelchairs. Loopwheels also won the ‘Able Best in Show Award’ for their new innovation. Gemma Pearce, their communications and marketing manager said: “We have launched our product Loopwheels here at Naidex and it’s been a brilliant show for us.”
Kathleen Mansour, operations manager at Medicotech also added: “It’s been a wonderful show, we’ve had a good mixture of both public and professionals coming to the stand. We’ve met some really interesting people and hope to get a lot of business as a result of Naidex.”
Supporting healthcare workers at Naidex
The CPD accredited seminars across Naidex (in the theatres and on exhibitor training stands) proved popular, with standing room only for many in the COT theatres across the three days.
Naidex remains a strong partner of the College of Occupational Therapy (COT) with sponsorship confirmed for their summer conference in 2016. The National Wheelchair Managers Association AGM also took place at the show with members in attendance from other Naidex partners, including Foundations and the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA).
Julia Skelton, director of professional operations at COT said: “It’s been another successful year for The COT Zone, with packed out lecture theatres for our high quality OT CPD sessions speaking for themselves. Naidex puts us in front of a large number of occupational therapists, particularly those working within the community and local authorities. We’re always delighted to meet occupational therapists, give advice and tell them about new benefits and services provided by the College, and we were able to do this with the large number of delegates who visited our COT Zone hub area.”
Naidex returns to the NEC, Birmingham from 26 to 28 April 2016, in halls 6 and 7. For more information go to www.naidex.co.uk.