Thursday, September 28, 2006

Swivel Seat Stairlift Chairs

There are a number of options available to make using a stair lift easier. The most obvious option is to have a swivel seat stairlift. This means that you can swivel the chair when you reach the top of the stairs, so that you are facing away from the staircase when you get off. The swivel seat is usually operated by pressing down on a lever at the side of the chair. A swivel seat stairlift makes it much easier and safer to get on and off the lift. The stairlift chair then acts as a barrier so that if you were to lose balance you could not fall down the stairs. A swivel seat is a standard option on most stairlifts these days, so you shouldn't have to pay extra.

Powered swivel seats are also available if you are unable to swivel the seat yourself. Most of the powered swivel options are now automatic. When the chair reaches the top of the rail there will be a short delay and the seat will then swivel the user onto the landing. This option will add to the cost of the stairlift and the quality can vary according to the manufacturer. As always seek independent advice and get prices from more than one source. If a powered swivel isn't necessary at the moment but could be useful in the future make sure the seat can be adapted.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Disability Now Stair Lift Question

This month's Disability Now magazine has this question posed by a reader. One of the replies was written by me in response to a request from the sub editor. In my opinion all of the answers make good points and should be considered when buying a stair lift.

Last month's question

"I need a stairlift and I have looked at various makes, but they all seem similar. I'm so confused and can't decide which one to buy. Can anyone recommend a good product, preferably from a company with a good after sales service and that doesn't use pressure selling techniques?"

Your answers:

I can't really recommend any one company or stairlift product as everyone has different needs and requirements. The stairlift company should recommend the correct solution once these individual needs have been established at the survey stage.

Advice that we tell visitors to follow is quite simple. Look for the basic safety features that should really be standard on all stairlifts, i.e. Swivel seat, D.C. power, Call / send devices. These sort of features should be really be included in the basic cost of a new stairlift and probably in most reconditioned stairlifts that are available today, (unless they are very old).

Try and get at least two or three quotes, making it clear that when you arrange your appointment you will not be making a decision at this time.

If you live alone, ask a neighbour or relative to sit in with you during your stairlift survey. If any extra option or "add-ons" are required, ask why they are needed and how would it benefit you.

When deciding which stairlift to choose, it is not always wise to pick the cheapest quotation. You should also consider the after-sales service and the warranty package that the companies provide.

Most importantly Ð choose the correct solution for your needs.

Roy Williams Ð Stairlift Surveyor

Arc produces over 80 information booklets, including Stairlifts and Homelifts, which is an excellent guide to the issues which need to be considered when making such adaptations to the home. The booklet is written by medical professionals and includes useful contacts for people to get professional advice on grants for equipment or conversions.

Buying a stairlift is a daunting task these days. If you need a straight stairlift 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 three or more quotes - 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, 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 callouts. Also, if they are independent suppliers, check with the manufacturer to ensure that they are authorised dealers. If they aren't, 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, 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 Director Dolphin Mobility Ltd

Help with funding a stairlift is sometimes available from the local council through a Disabled Facilities Grant so, before proceeding with a private purchase, it's worthwhile contacting your council's social services department to find out whether they can help.

If you buy privately, engineers will need to do a home visit before they can give you a price for the stairlift and its installation.

They'll need to look at the staircase itself, and the immedediate environment, eg landings, overhangs and the siting of doorways and windows.

You should get quotes from at least three companies and compare them, find out what their guarantee covers, their servicing and maintenance costs, and how long it will take them to supply fit the stairlift..

Stairlifts will have subtle variations, but you need to be sure that you can transfer on and off the seat safely, that your legs are supported by the footplate and that you can manage the controls.

You may have a Disabled Living Centre near you where you can see and try out a range of stairlifts (addresses are on the
Assist UK website)

You may prefer to buy from a company that belongs to a trade association such as the
Lift and Escalator Industry Association or the British Healthcare Trades Association.

You can also contact your local home improvement agency and ask if they can give you any advice (addresses can be found on the
Foundations website.

The DLF has a factsheet on their
website on choosing equipment to get up and down stairs, that includes advice on stairlifts.

Lucy Andrews

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Finally...a replacement for the stairlift that was faulty for TWO YEARS

I found this stairlift article on the Leeds Today website after it had appeared in the Yorkshire Evening Post.


A MULTIPLE sclerosis sufferer had to be carried up and down stairs at her council home by her husband for two years after her stairlift kept breaking down. But today Paula and Dave Whitaker were celebrating after Leeds City Council bosses promised to replace the faulty appliance after the YEP stepped in.

Mrs Whitaker, 55, who has suffered MS for two decades and uses a wheelchair, said: "The stairlift is downright dangerous. I am frightened when I am on it, just in case it goes. "It has been breaking down on average twice a week for two years, we have called the helpline endlessly and there has been a stream of repairman, continuously coming to mend it. "At one time there were sparks flying from under it. "It usually breaks once it reaches the top of the stairs, so my husband Dave has to carry me back down, once I have been to the bathroom. It is a real pain."

The grandmother from Wood Nook Drive, Tinshill, Cookridge, says she and Dave have lost track of how many times they have called the council repair helpline since they moved into the house in 2004. Dave, who is Paula's full-time carer, said: "Coping with MS is bad enough, we could do without this carry on a regular basis. "They keep saying that a part needs replacing, but the chair is ancient and like something from the 1970s."When the YEP visited Paula's home the stairlift broke down as the mum-of-three was trying to get upstairs.

A spokeswoman for Leeds North West Homes said: "The number of repairs required of this stair-lift over the past couple of years is certainly out of the ordinary, therefore we will be requesting a replacement stairlift be fitted." The spokesman could not say when the lift would be replaced. Mrs Whitaker added: "That is brilliant news. I can't say enough thankyous to the YEP. They simply have not been listening to me. Surely they must have realised that coming out twice a week to mend the lift does not make sense."

12 September 2006

Monday, September 11, 2006

Stairlift Plan Rejected

Artist Alex Murdin's plan to install a 30ft stairlift on a craggy hill on Dartmoor has been rejected by the park authority. Murdin, 35, wanted to test commitment to equal access.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Disappointment at stair lift buy-back

This stair lift article appeared in Newcastle's Sunday Sun.

How's your maths? Peter Heslop bought a stair lift for £1250 on the understanding he could sell it back when it was no longer needed.

Seven months later he moved to a bungalow and was offered - wait for it - the princely sum of £60.

No wonder Peter, of Spennymoor, County Durham, felt the need for some sabre rattling.
He said: "The company told me they had a buy- back policy, depending on the length of time I had the equipment. I expected more than £60 but accepted it as I had to be out of the house quickly."

I wondered how Peter Brown, of Sabre Stairlift Systems, Keighley, West Yorkshire, could justify his figures. He said: "The reason we offer a relatively small amount is we sell reconditioned machines for only £999. We have to remove the machine, renovate it, advertise it, and reinstall it."