This year the PMG Conference was held at the Manchester Central Convention Complex which provided a superb setting, both for speakers and for the exhibition.
Entering the exhibition hall was like opening a big box of chocolates, with something for everyone. There were large displays by established suppliers and sponsors, and small stands for niche companies specialising in products such as headrests or cushions.
From a personal perspective, being a relatively new wheelchair therapist, the exhibition gave me the opportunity to browse and see equipment I had never even heard of! I was also able to speak to the suppliers of equipment our service issues regularly, and I even scheduled a short ad-hoc training session on a buggy I was unfamiliar with. Many delegates were using the opportunity to troubleshoot specific problems and challenges. For example, a very tall patient (over 6’5”) needing a power chair. The exhibition allowed them to discuss options with several suppliers within a short space of time and to problem solve with them.
A new feature this year was the capability for suppliers to scan the barcode on delegates’ conference badges/passes, enabling them to send product and service information via email after the conference. I saw a number of delegates using this system, and I myself have received useful product information after returning to work.
The exhibition had a couple of other sections, one being the NHS England stand promoting personal wheelchair budgets. This was well-attended as many trusts are working towards implementing these budgets. Regular presentations were held throughout both days, with people also available to give advice and answer questions.
Another busy area was the poster display where delegates could talk to the presenters, and/or collect flyers of the posters.
One new feature of the event that I found useful was the linking between some of the conference proceedings and the exhibiting companies; in particular the Pitch your Product sessions, which gave presenters five minutes to promote their products on the main stage. This was a novel way to highlight new developments and to signpost delegates to stands they might otherwise have bypassed.
Overall the conference was an extremely useful and educational three days for me, and the exhibition hall provided a hub where I could supplement my learning, ask detailed questions, gather information, and make contacts to help me in the future.
Photograph of delegates enjoying the drinks reception at the exhibition in Manchester
Photography by Jonathan Rourke