Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stairlift waiting lists debate in the commons?

Labour MP Keith Vaz asked the following question in the House of Commons recently.

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): May we have a debate next week on the guidelines for the provision of stairlifts for elderly people by local authorities? My constituent Vera Cheshire is 78 years of age. She has a colostomy bag, an artificial leg and has lost the use of one of her arms. She has been waiting for 18 months for a stairlift from Liberal-led Leicester city council. Does my right hon. Friend agree that when local authorities fail to discharge their duties, especially to the vulnerable in society, it is important that Ministers intervene and that, at the very least, we should debate such important matters?

Mr. Hoon: As ever, my hon. Friend makes his point, and he does so with considerable force. It is outrageous that anyone should have to wait so long for assistance from their local authority. I am sure that the Liberal Democrat leadership in the House of Commons will look at that as a matter of some urgency.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How to buy a Stair Lift

Buying a stair lift is certainly a daunting task these days. If you need a straight stair lift then generally speaking there is not a huge difference in quality. Curved stairlifts on the other hand are far more complicated and some are definitely better than others. I would be reluctant to recommend a particular stairlift without seeing your staircase and discussing your needs but I can offer you advice on how to make sure you get the right lift. There are several manufacturers and many more independent companies that supply lifts from a range of manufacturers. There are good and bad companies among these. The industry has become very competitive over the last few years and there are a number of unscrupulous traders now operating. Even some of the big manufacturers have a poor record for after sales service and pushy salesman as well as charging an exceedingly high price for their lifts. However with a few sensible precautions you can get a really good deal.

It is a good idea to ask your local authority who they use, they will be happy to provide a list for you and this should ensure that you avoid rogue traders. Try a manufacturer and a local independent supplier to get a comparison. Always get 3 or more quotations, this is time consuming and intrusive but is really the only way to feel confident that you are making the right choice. Never agree to purchase the lift while the salesman is with you. A reputable company will respect your decision. If the salesman starts to pester you or offers you a discount if you buy now, then be very sceptical. Ask about maintenance costs, will the company still look after your lift if you don't sign up to an expensive contract? Find out if the company has engineers local to you and if they attend out of hours call outs. Also if they are independent suppliers check with the manufacturer to ensure that they are authorised dealers. If they aren't, then they will not have access to spare parts and will not have had the correct training. Once you have all of the quotations in writing take your time to make a decision and make sure that you read the small print. If you are confused about any detail then speak to someone from the company and ask for their response in writing if necessary. These precautions should ensure that you get a suitable lift at a fair price. Good luck!

Christian Dunnage
Dolphin Mobility Ltd

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Risks and benefits of stair lift use

Example: weighing up risks and benefits in assisting a client in relation to stairlift use. A social work service occupational therapist [OT] refuses on safety grounds to recommend a stairlift for a disabled woman, instead recommending a through-floor lift. She judges that the risk of using the stairlift is simply too great.

The woman does not want the through-floor lift and manages to obtain her own second-hand stairlift. Some months later she is using the stairlift several times a day and gets back in touch with the OT and asks whether she could visit and arrange the installation of rails at the top and bottom of the stairs to make transfers safer. The OT visits, concludes that the stairlift use is just as unsafe, recommends that the woman should not use it - but decides nevertheless to assist with the rails [even though one of her colleagues advises her against it, because it would be `collusion' with an unsafe practice].

The OT would need to reason out her decision in terms of risks and benefits to the client; for example, provision of the rails might reduce the risk inherent in what the woman was anyway doing several times a day. Thus the therapist would be making clear that far from introducing, creating or encouraging the taking of unacceptable risks, she was in fact reducing the risks that the woman was anyway determined to take. Furthermore, so long as the OT carefully documents her reasoning and that she has in any event advised the woman not to use the stairlift - then whether or not the OT assists with the rails, a court is likely to view the woman, rather than the OT, as the overall cause of any accident in respect of the stairlift.

Monday, August 21, 2006

New Stair Lift Websites

We currently have 2 new Dolphin stair lift websites under development. When completed they will show details of our Manchester and Anglia branches. You can see hgow they are coming along on the following links.