Stair Lifts Overview
Stair lifts are home health care devices designed to transport people who normally have difficulty climbing or descending stairs. Anyone with balance, strength or other problems that make stairways difficult, or impossible, to traverse safely can benefit from a stair lift.
Like many other products in the home health care field, stair lifts are products that people usually put off purchasing until long after they can be of benefit. Once purchased and installed, many people often wish they had bought their stair lifts years before and often my past customers would comment that they hadn't been able to access different areas of their homes in years because they felt unsafe on their stairways.
Originally, stair lifts could only be installed on straight stairways and required the installation of a dedicated electrical circuit to the stairway to handle the stair lift's electrical needs. Today's stair lifts can be installed on stright stairways, curved stairways and stairways with intermediate landings somewhere along their length.
Also, most stair lifts sold today are battery operated and don't require a dedicated circuit because only a small amount of electricity is needed to keep the batteries charged. An additional benefit of today's stair lifts being battery operated is they will continue to operate in the event of a power failure. Depending on the age and condition of the batteries and the stair lift and the size of the user most stair lifts will make several trips up and down the stairway before depleting the batteries.
Stair lifts are not suitable for all users. They are intended for users who are able to walk and don't need to transport anything but themselves up, or down, the staircase. A person who uses a cane for mobility will probably be able to lay it on their lap or have a cane holder attached to the stair lift in order to have the cane available to them at the opposite end of the stairway however walker users will need a walker waiting for them.
People who depend on wheelchairs or scooters for basic mobility are not normally good candidates for stair lifts because to access the stair lift seat the user must be able to stand. Additionally, if a wheelchair user is able to access the stair lift doing a standing transfer they will need to have a wheelchair waiting for them to transfer into when they get to the opposite end of the stairs. There is no way to carry a wheelchair, or anything else of any size, when using a stair lift.
For those who use a walker, wheelchair or scooter and need to transport their mobility product with them to another level there are two common options:
- Inclined Platform Lift (IPL) - An IPL is a wheelchair lift that consists of a platform that travels on a track along a stairway. A wide stairway and lots of headroom is required.
- Vertical Platform Lift (VPL) - A VPL is basically a wheelchair lift or elevator that travels vertically. If the VPL travels through a floor a shaft must be built for it for safety.