30 July 2010

Posted by DMC on 31 July 2011 in Diary |

 Regular readers will recall me raising the question of second-hand disability equipment and why there is no central depot from which one purchase such equipment.

As a result of discussing this with a friend of mine he agreed to look into it and see if there was a feasible market that would make it worthwhile setting up a company to handle such equipment. Sadly, after considerable research it became clear that there were too many ‘red tape’ difficulties in the way. I think the easiest way of explaining what these are is to reproduce parts of his e-mail explaining the problems to me.

I have completed several avenues of research into the Care Equipment, Purchase, Store and Resale idea.

You are right that there is a gap in the market. I have found only one organisation that that will purchase some items of used care equipment – sales@completecareshop.co.uk which is a part of www.completecarenetwork.co.uk

However, having asked various other suppliers why they do not buy back equipment that they had sold, I have discovered significant reasons why the market remains limited to EBAY and other websites that provide advertising space for sellers who are private individuals. I got a similar response from charities.

  1. Any item with electrical or electronic components cannot be sold by a business without the item first having been subject to examination by a qualified electrician and certified as compliant with WEEE regulations. This represents a cost which does not have to borne by a private individual acting as seller. 
  2. Any item that is sold by a business must be sold with the implicit guarantee that it is fit for purpose and safe. Unfortunately this is difficult to do when equipment has been used for load bearing (chair, bed, hoist etc.). This means that the cost of insurance to indemnify the business against the risk that an item proves unsuitable would be a significant overhead. 
  3. Items with significant residual value are often large and therefore expensive to transport. The cost of transport from seller to depot and then to purchaser is undercut by the private individual who can limit the transport cost to that required from seller direct to buyer. 

I am sorry that this is not the response you were hoping for, but as I started to build the business case, I soon realised that the costs incurred to cover compliance with regulations, insurance, transport, storage and marketing would exceed any margin that could be achieved no matter what business volume was achieved.  That is why the market is served only by private sellers.

I discovered some interesting data about where people die through research on ONS figures in order to get a handle on the size of the market – Download PDF. I also received this information yesterday:

 … please find the information you requested below.Please note that 2010 data is provisional.

 There were 461,016 deaths in England in 2010. The percentage of deaths that occurred at home was 20.8% (95,830 deaths).  Deaths at home are those at the usual residence of the deceased (according to the informant), where this is not a communal establishment.

You may be interested to know that ONS also produce an indicator for the Department of Health showing the percentage of deaths occurring in the deceased usual residence, which includes at home, in care homes and in certain religious establishments

 I trust this answers your question, however if you require more information please do not hesitate to get in touch.

At least we tried and what a great job my friend did. From the faraway in which you went about establishing the problem I’m sure we would have made a great success of the had they not been there.

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