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Notes From Naidex: Europe's Leading Disability Event

Naidex - “Europe’s leading disability event showcasing the latest products, technologies, and services that are transforming the lives of those living with a disability or impairment.” Held in Birmingham NEC, April 25-26 2018. Milly Toovey, marketing magician from SACARE shares her notes.
  • 300 exhibitors
  • 200 speakers
  • Mobility test tracks
  • Live demos
  • Product launches
  • Panel discussions
  • In conjunction with the home, design and build summit

Overall feeling:

Last month I put together a report and notes about the key takeaways I received from Naidex. Whilst the notes were originally meant for team SACARE, I’m a big believer that sharing is caring and well, I’d like to share the following with you too so that you can gain a grasp about the types of conversations that are being had in Europe within the disability sector.

It was an honour to be able to represent SACARE and attend such an important event in Europe’s disability sector, to meet with people, learn about their issues/solutions, and gain new understanding about the industry. With 12 seminar rooms and 200 speakers (let alone 300 stands), I planned my days prior to the event to make sure I didn’t miss out on any relevant information. Needless to say, the event was totally overwhelming! At the end of day one, I was exhausted and my mind was spinning thinking about all the problems I need to help solve in the world of disability, from marketing the latest and greatest products to creating enriching communities in South Australia, to promoting new wellbeing therapies. As always, it’s my own advice that I need to practice more often, “You can’t s the world’s problems tomorrow.” After sipping on a red wine and getting into a book from “The School of Life” at the end of day one, I had a completely different attitude for day two. Between the speakers in seminars, I was excited to meet as many exhibitors as possible, and learn a little bit more about their story, as well as chatting to some attendees to find out what they were looking for at Naidex.

Whilst waiting for a talk to start, I met with a woman who was there with her son, Ben (mid-twenties), who had cerebral palsy. They were looking for a new wheelchair, actually, it seemed that a lot of people were looking for a new wheelchair. From standing wheelchairs, to light-weight and compact, there seemed to be a huge variety of possibilities! The friendly woman was telling me that the best two years of Ben’s life were when he was in college with students his age, and with similar issues where they were able to fully connect and understand each other. After education, she said that Ben has struggled ever since to find a community of like-minded people where he can attend on a regular basis to simply, have fun. She said this is a huge problem in the UK, they try to put everyone in the same box, so quite often Ben would be playing games with an 80-year-old woman with dementia. No wonder loneliness and loss-of-identity were reoccurring issues I picked up during the couple of days. I told her a little bit about SACARE facilities, and she wished a similar company existed near them. She said that her son has no intention of living independently alone with the occasional support worker and family visits because this creates more loneliness, which, according to the 2017 British New Scientist magazine as featured in the GDI Wellness 2030 report, “Loneliness could become one of the greatest dangers to our health in the coming years – greater even than smoking or obesity. This is because loneliness creates a burden on our psychological well-being that manifests itself in physical symptoms.” He’d much rather be in a small lively and homey facility, similar to the ones we provide at SACARE. See more about SACARE's supported independent living facilities here.

This is something to think about… the power of community and understanding our clients for who they are as people. How can we enrich our community to help our clients flourish in life?

Whilst it was an action-packed couple of days, the quantity/quality ratio was out of balance, meaning that there were way too many stands, many of which lacked the innovation I was searching for, needless to say, I definitely came across some goodies, see below the notes from some of the talks and vendors. You can also see some fun video messages from some of the Naidex speakers on our Instagram story here.


Inclusive Design for 21st Century Living: Elaine Hollerhead 

Elaine, previously an OT, started her interior design firm to help replace traditional disability equipment with stylish alternatives. I felt that SACARE definitely resonated with Designate, as we shared similar values.

  • Number one most important thing is dignity.
  • Key factors: Empowerment and enablement, integration and socialisation
  • Inclusive design needs to aid to harmonious living
  • Needs to be an environment to enable people to thrive in
  • Decor is crucial
  • Integration - double hospital bed for couples
  • Lifestyle accessories - think about the details like easy to hold mugs


Cognitive Change: Dementia Friendly Housing and Design Services
Francis Philippa - Foundations

  • The industry needs better access to knowledge - forums 
  • Power of story-telling

The Architecture of Accessibility and Care

Out of all the speakers I visited, I found these guys the most progressive with regards to new ways of thinking.

“As designers we centre on a wellbeing approach to Architecture. Focusing on the individual, lived experience, of our clients. This we combine with the influence of site setting, seasons, solar pathways, ancient, historical and local traditional traditions.” - Architectonicus

  • Clients need to be able to be themselves - creative freedom is so important
  • Support their identity and sense of freedom
  • Remove/reduce stress/anxiety as much as possible
  • If there is an amazing synergy between children/dementia patients - is there also a similar power between children and our clients? Yes, see how babies bring joy to SACARE here
  • Power of small groups getting together for a variety of activities 10/12 people recommended
  • Love - Atlas Ness Centre -together, choice, emotion
    “Building specialist spaces designed to comfort, engage and maximise independence, while encouraging integration with local communities.”
  • Good Brain Gang - arts, exercise, wellbeing


Supporting Independent Living with the Smarter Home 
Macro Level Smarthomes - What is smart?

  • Making tech work for you.
  • Heating + lighting + security + audio
    • Control + Intelligence
    • Let your home learn from you 

    If you’d like to learn more about how SACARE’s facilities are “Smart Homes”, please contact us:

Virtual and Augmented Reality in Healthcare
Lee Blemings, CEO - Sensory Guru 

Sensory Guru are definitely onto something with regards to creating sensory places. They’re a cool company but as Lee said, he still has some unanswered questions that spin through his mind…
“Is it ethically right to put someone in an environment they can’t reach?" 

  • Virtual reality creates infinite content possibilities
  • Person-centered design built for outcomes
  • Always ask ourselves “What is it that we want from an outcome?”
  • Tailoring experiences for individuals
    • Developmental disorders
      • Remove distractions and filter noise
      • Create tasks where only key information exists
    • Mental Health
      • VR can be a safe place in which to de-stress and self-regulate
    • Physical disabilities
      • VR is a great distraction tool and offers the potential for pain treatment/management

The Importance of Recovery
Shane Booth 

Shane is a former sales manager at IBM. His life changed forever in 2009 when he was involved in a motorbike accident whilst in Germany. After years of rehabilitation, Shane has found new focus and confidence enabling him to continue to strive for further improvement in both his skills and his quality of life.

I had SO much respect for Shane. He made his presentation all by himself and was determined to stand the entire way through and speak about his recovery journey. 

  • Rehab - all about taking control of your life and building the right team
  • Sense of identity is so important
  • Being able to achieve things - celebrate milestones
  • Having independence
  • Feeling of moving forward


Practical advice for independent living
Janet Sewad - DFL, Shaw Trust 

  • Provide information and training to help people live independently
  • Embrace technology early in life can avoid crisis points - smoother transition
  • Youreable forum - advice, benefits - 1 million users
  • Independent living volunteers - demonstrate tech
  • Working on a campaign for early adaptation of technology like “5 a day” Government campaign

Power of a role model
Jack Eyers- Mr England

Jack was voted “Mr England” in 2017 - the modern man competition in England. He had his leg amputated when he was a teenager and now is a personal trainer for body and mind. Jack told me that he’s happy to share his story with SACARE.

  • “Who has changed your life forever? Is there someone that you can relate to and aspire to be?”
  • “Imagine not having a vision for the future? “That was me.” - Jack


Sex Talk - Sex after a serious injury
Lee Raynor - Clear Law

Clear Law is a modern law firm in London with a fresh approach. Very progressive.

  • Sex is a fundamental human need
  • Sex is a crucial part of mental wellbeing

Health, care & education - adverting a catastrophe
Sam Tebb - Neuro Rehab

  • “We want our clients to get the best out of rehabilitation”
  • We are in the disability “tsunami” - expenditure rates are massive
  • It takes on average 2 years for someone to be diagnosed with autism
  • 1 in 3 adults have a mental health issue
  • 700k people in the UK are autistic
  • Look at areas of the brain that are responsible for development - what’s going on? Is it sensory, audio?
  • Ask questions - Why isn’t the brain sending signals? What is wrong with the central nervous system. Incontinence issues? Look at simple solutions like “wobble watch” to remind them to go to the loo.
  • Find the solution based on that rather than on known strategies.
  • Therapy needs to happen every day, not just once a week. If you’re learning a new language you need to do it a minimum 10 minutes every day and build up. If you’re retraining your brain, the same principle applies.
  • It is so important to upsell/upscale information and train teachers/parents - new strategies tailored to the individual for what/why their brain needs.
  • Neuroplasticity - the brain can change - regularly stimulated
  • Importance on a healthy gut, 95% of serotonin comes from your gut - gut is your second brain. Look at adding simple things like more eggs/nuts
  • TedTalk - You can grow your own brain cells -


Don’t Talk About Disabilities, talk about superpowers
Pedius - Phone calls for the deaf


Naidex Exhibitors

Out of the exhibitors, the following are a handful of which I met with that gave me some interesting ideas/content. 


  • Review my Wheelchair Database of all the wheelchairs where the community contributes their reviews. Run by a dynamic family guy.   

Disability News


  • - Assistive visuals achieving independent living. Breakthrough learning technology.
  • Wheelers’ Paramill
    Ultimate training tool for strength, cardio, spinal cord rehabilitation and research.  
  • Thera Trainer
    Regular power, endurance and mobility training. Facilitates functional recovery and improved motor skills, helps therapies and patients achieve therapy goals.
  • BigReha
    Bariatric and medical devices for hospital and home care
  • Revalrevalcc.comHydro rehab pools, assisted bathing and showering and transfer equipment. Cutting edge technology.


  • Assistive technology for the special needs classroom.
  • Birdie App- Digital companion designed to help with the practicalities of caring for a loved one/client. 


  • E-Pilot-
    Transform wheelchair into a sporty vehicle. 
  • Aquatilt
    The universal pool and shower wheelchair.  
  • Relyne 
    “Will change the way you travel granting total independence no matter where you are. Portable transport is now a reality.” 
  • Octane Sub4
    The world’s first made to measure titanium wheelchair under 4kg.


  • Blue Badge
    Stylish independent living products. 

For a full list of exhibitors:


We hope these notes come in handy. We look forward to implementing some of the Naidex inspiration into our latest rehabilitation facility, The Gums in Salisbury. Read more about it here, and don't forget to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest updates or like our Facebook page.


Milly Toovey at Naidex



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