“It does what it says it does on the tin!” Fostering consumer confidence in AT

Demographic changes and financial pressures are leading to radical changes in statutory provision of simple AT. (1) Retailers are increasingly offering simple aids to daily living through various outlets – from the internet, catalogues and in-store – in response to a perceived new market opportunity. The Transforming Community Equipment Services has further advanced the ‘mainstreaming’ of such AT items (2). However, there are challenges for this as an emerging market. There is evidence that the public’s awareness of the benefits of AT is low, that take-up is limited by the stigma and other negative associations of old age, and that healthcare professionals are nervous about such developments. (3). A partnership study, by the Institute of Ageing and Health, Newcastle University, and Years Ahead Partnership is looking into the feasibility of a consumer-led product and service accreditation scheme which would improve consumer confidence, help to de-stigmatise the use of products and offer reassurance to professional prescribers. This workshop aims to discuss the crucial issues of consumer and stakeholder engagement in the process of setting up such a scheme and explore the implications for AT services in the future.