GOING from the clinical world of IT to helping the elderly and disabled was a rewarding, if long, journey for Bullcreek’s Shaun and Carole O’Brien.
The couple had enough of gigabytes and specky programmers, but it took them nearly two years to get out of the industry and find a new line of work.
“We didn’t want to go into just anything, we wanted to try to help people,” Mr O’Brien says.
They also wanted a business they could grow, “And we needed to be able to afford it,” Mr O’Brien says with a smile.
They took over a store selling mobility aids in Mandurah 12 years ago, and last year expanded their Emprise Mobility empire into Bibra Lake with a massive warehouse and a mind-boggling range of equipment and gadgets.
The business quickly grew and soon they were employing 13 staff, including an occupational therapist.
The satisfaction Mr O’Brien gets from his career change is apparent as he takes the Herald on a guided tour of the showroom.
He’s proud of the size of the display, not because there’s a lot to look at, which there is, but because it’s spacious with plenty of room for clients with mobility issues.
Mr O’Brien says the national disability insurance scheme and changes to aged care regulations have a been a game changer for the industry.
Previously government dollars went to agencies providing services, locking clients into packages that didn’t always suit.
“The individual now has a lot more control over who they deal with and what they spend their money on.”
An increasingly ageing population is demanding more, Mr O’Brien says.
“Our customers are older and their kids are much more aware of what they can get.”
Emprise’s core business is mobility, with a huge range of wheelchairs, walking frames and scooters, including one that folds up and fits in a suitcase,
But there’s also shower aids, like the bendy-back washer, and a hair washer with nodules that mimics the feeling of fingers on the scalp.
And they sell a tilting kettle that pivots gently and doesn’t have to be lifted.
It’s the creation of Bibra Lake firm Uccello, and is sold around the world.
There’s also a range of electric chairs, “That will stand you up,” Mr O’Brien says.
by JENNY D’ANGER
5 Sobek Pass, Bibra Lake