10 May 2021 – When the battery on Robert Price’s mobility scooter kept running flat last year, it robbed him of the independence he and the Te Kaha community valued.
The 74-year-old former mechanic and truck driver is a familiar figure around Te Kaha, a small Bay of Plenty community near Ōpōtiki. Robert has had a mobility scooter for nearly eight years since he had a stroke and then a brain injury following surgery.
He now gets ACC Serious Injury Services funding and right from the word go it was clear the formerly social and outgoing Robert would need something which gave him the independence he valued.
Robert and his wife Dawne then lived in Whakatane and nearly six years ago decided to move to Te Kaha.
The scooter had to be a grunty one as formed footpaths are a rarity in Te Kaha.
Dawne, who volunteers for the local St John Ambulance, said she contacted a service agent to change the battery when it kept going flat. The agents took the mobility scooter away for four months leaving Robert with no way to get around.
He eyed up a quad bike next door as an alternative way to catch up with his friends in the community.
That is when Dawne phoned Gary Darkes, Mobility Centre’s van-based salesman and the same man who sold the couple the original mobility scooter.
“We’ve stayed in touch with Gary pretty much since this whole journey began,” says Dawne.
Robert’s occupational therapist and Gary joined forces and after ascertaining the original mobility scooter had had its day, convinced ACC a new mobility scooter was needed.
Gary sent through photos of various models but Robert and Dawne kept going back to the blue CTM HS-928 mobility scooter. It is a robust, heavy duty four-wheel scooter, for those wanting to go longer distances and in rough conditions.
Its sporty design and numerous safety features makes it very comfortable to drive, a real eye catcher and is a modernised version of the scooter Robert previously drove.
Gary packed it and another mobility scooter into his van and headed to Te Kaha to give Robert back his mobility.
Once he took the blue scooter out of the van, Robert and Dawn were convinced it was the one.
Gary put two flags and a head rest cover on it and Robert was off.
For Dawne it ended months of frustration. She was busy during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and the subsequent restrictions means she has been unable to visit her three grandchildren in Perth for two years.
“We’ve been very lucky with the support we’ve had in Te Kaha plus our ACC case managers have been just amazing. And Gary is just great,” she said.
It showed the importance of keeping in contact with your clients after the initial sale, she said.
Gary Darkes is a long-standing mobility scooter specialist and former owner of Home Health and Mobility. He joined Mobility Centre last year and now covers the Bay of Plenty, Waikato and Auckland regions with a van-based sales’ operations.
He is supported by mobile service technician Mike Costello. In Lower Hutt Mobility Centre has Bruce Page as its Wellington service technician.