Silver Fern Therapy started life in 2013, although it was under a different name, Alter Ergo. Back then, I had just finished an MSc in Ergonomics and thought a career in that field was on the cards, so naming the business with a nod to ergonomics made sense.
Although I did a few jobs directly related to ergonomics, my true passion was wheelchairs and I’ve stayed in the wheelchair industry ever since.
Silver Fern Therapy is run by me and my wife Liz, who is a neuro physiotherapist. Liz has taken a back seat for the moment – we’ve not long had our second child, so she’s busy looking after our two girls.
My life in wheelchair prescription started in 2001, straight after I had finished my degree in Occupational Therapy at AUT in Auckland, New Zealand. I was offered a job with a company called Seating to Go, who attended a careers day during our final year. They interviewed me sat at a picnic table in the sun outside the OT school. They liked the idea that I was a cyclist and could wield an Allen key and a spanner.
Seating to Go had a super-experienced team and I learnt so much in the 18 months I spent with them. My job was entirely related to wheelchair prescription and I saw an enormous range of presentations. It gave me the base of knowledge that I still use today.
Since then, I’ve switched a few times between sales and clinical roles in New Zealand and the UK, but I’ve never left the wheelchair industry. I’ve been based in South Wales since 2005, being employed by Cardiff & Vale NHS Trust for 6 years and then Sunrise Medical as Area Sales Manager for 7 years.
Silver Fern Therapy was running alongside my role at Sunrise Medical for a few years, but in 2018, I made the leap and left Sunrise Medical. I’m now solely focused on Silver Fern Therapy and love the sense of responsibility and freedom that running my own business brings.
There are very few companies doing what we do, so we want to make a real statement in the industry and improve the service that wheelchair users receive. Too many wheelchair users are missing out on clinical input into their wheelchair provision. For the very basic users, this might not make a difference, but for full-time wheelchair users, correct prescription can change their lives.
An appropriately-prescribed wheelchair will increase function and enable the user to mobilise in the most efficient way possible. It will also minimise the chance of further disability – whether that be soft tissue overuse injury, muscle shortening, or pressure ulcers. Not everything is possible when it comes to wheelchair prescription, but having our clinical input often means the best possible compromise can be reached.
We’ve made a few links with wheelchair retailers, so instead of simply prescribing equipment and then running for the hills, we lead every patient through the entire process from assessment to handover and review. If something isn’t right, we work with the retailer and the patient to fix it.
Product trials are really important to us. We’re one of the UK’s only clinical providers who hold their own demonstration stock. We want to ensure that anything we recommend is going to be right for you – if we don’t have what you need, we’ll order it in from one of our retail or manufacturing partners.
If you’d like to learn more about Silver Fern Therapy and what we can do to help you, please sign up for our newsletter and we’ll keep you up to date.