Electric Stair Lifts

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Postby TwistedHelix » Fri Dec 14, 2007 6:31 am

If anyone is having adaptations made, maybe my mistakes can help you avoid unnecessary upheaval and expense: as my disability progressed, I had to change my shower unit several times and make alterations; each time thinking, " I can use that now: it shouldn't need changing again", but of course a little while later I began to find the new layout difficult to cope with. Better to start right from the beginning with the most " disabled friendly" shower you can think of – even making room for tracking hoists and suchlike so that they can be installed in the future should you need them.
I now have a stainless steel level entry shower tray, which has an integral lip running around the wall sides which can be tiled over, so there is no possibility of water leaks. Instead of tiles I opted for wall panels, which are made of marine grade plywood covered with something like melamine and which measure about seven by four foot. They're available in several different designs and there is no need for grout, so no danger of getting grubby, limescaled and cracked!
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Postby gwa » Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:07 pm

Dom,

My next shower will not be tile because it requires me to use a squeegee to clean it each time I shower. It is all I can do to get the bottom tiles cleaned without falling on my head.

I also like what you have described better than tile. Another thing I found out is to not let the contractors install the pressed board backing for showers.

Instead they should make the background out of mud (cement and wire) which lasts longer and does not mildew or fall apart.

Another thing to remember is to install the grab bars across the shower and not up and down. It is much easier to stay upright when you are not trying to grab a slippery bar that is positioned wrong.

My parents designed a bathroom for me in their new house to use when I visit them and they had the bars put in lengthwise instead of horizontal and they are a dangerous hassle for me.

The shower is marble, so I have not complained because it would cost a lot of $$$ to repair it. I just have to be very careful there.

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Stair lifts, further questions

Postby Elin » Wed Jan 02, 2008 12:20 pm

Your discussion of stair lifts is the only one I've found, so I greatly appreciate your collective wisdom.

Can you give me some further information?

What are the positive advantages to the non-battery stair lift? For instance, is it less bulky so it might fit better on a narrow stairway? What has been your experience with battery life? Is is cheaper in the long run to be plugged in?

As far as quality and reliability, I gather that Stannah and Savaria have been solid, while Acorn can be problematic. But what about design? Is there a "stair lift lite" made for people who are reasonably agile, and a "serious stair lift" for people like me, with major problems with balance and weakness? Or, is the design of all of them more or less standard?

Is there any "must-have" feature you'd recommend, like the joy-stick?

What about problems getting on and off? One supplier wrote that one must be able to stand and mount the critter. I did not find this reassuring and began wondering if I should be considering a wheelchair lift (even though I use a walker around the house).

Thanks so much. I'm in western Massachusetts and we are distinctly underwhelmed by services here (though we are well-served by our Ursine friends).

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Postby gwa » Wed Jan 02, 2008 7:38 pm

Dom needs to let us know how he manages to get on the stair lift. He is bedridden, according to his posts, and would have one of the more difficult times getting on the lift.

I have wondered the same question myself, Elin, as far as getting on it when not physically able. Getting an elevator might be an option for some people.

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Postby TwistedHelix » Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:55 am

I am posting this in response to a PM I had from gwa asking how I can get on and off a stair lift when I am such a… how shall I put it?… physical wreck and total waste of good oxygen, (my words, not gwa's!). I had completely missed that there were new posts on this thread.

It goes like this: although my legs won't bear weight, when straightened I have a very useful muscle spasm which will lock them for a few seconds. I also have a modicum of use in my left arm.
There is a piece of equipment called a Rotastand in this country, which consists of a turntable to stand on and an adjustable height handle – the idea being that more able bodied people can pull themselves to a standing position, be rotated, and sit down again, thus transferring from one piece of equipment to another.
With my left arm, locked knees, and two carers the size of mountain gorillas, I can manage this transfer. Although I have no sitting balance, (in other words, when sitting the upper half of my body will just fall all over the place like a rag doll), with careful positioning, the seatbelt, some duct tape and a staple gun I can make the journey downstairs safely, and then use the same procedure to transfer to a wheelchair.
I'm sure the same would be possible using a hoist and if you look around the web or in an OT catalogue you'll find a vast range of equipment for almost any situation. Trouble is, you won't find any reasonably priced equipment. Luckily most of mine was provided by the local authority.

Elin, when talking about battery powered stair lifts, the battery is most commonly used as a backup in the event of a power failure – it is kept permanently fully charged until needed – I haven't seen any where the battery is the sole power source.
Usually the power and switching gear is located underneath the stairs, so bulk shouldn't be an issue, but the designs are very flexible to accommodate any unusual requirements you may have.
Mine is a very old design and the track is a massive steel girder which is very bulky and heavy, but also very solid and reliable. Many modern varieties use a tubular steel track which is raised off the floor, lighter and less obtrusive but I have heard that they are slightly less reliable – I don't know if the old, heavy ones are still around.
I suppose the supplier was probably correct to say that you need to be able to stand up and sit down in order to use a stairlift, after all, the process is basically getting into and out of a chair, but it's not set in stone that you have to be able to do this on your own. There is another piece of equipment called a Standaid which is a powered hoist that lowers you gently into a sitting position. There are many ways for a disabled person to get, (or be got), into a chair, and only you can decide what feels right. I had to fight some long running battles with the community occupational therapist to convince her that I would be OK, and I've been absolutely fine for many years now.
A through-floor elevator, (that's what they're called here… is there a kind which doesn't go through floors?), is certainly an option to consider but again, only you can decide which is right. For me, the joystick is a must, but the lift can easily be operated by carers. The impossible thing is to try and predict what you are going to need in the future – for instance, I was right handed but at the time I bought the lift it didn't matter what side the joystick was on. It just happened to be located on the left when it arrived, and "luckily" it was my right hand I lost use of.
I hope this helps,
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Postby gwa » Sat Jan 05, 2008 10:38 am

Thanks for the post Dom, it helped a bunch.

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Postby Lyon » Sat Jan 05, 2008 12:48 pm

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Stair lift thanks.

Postby Elin » Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:29 pm

Thanks so much for all the info.

I recall reading that I am supposed to be able to keep my knees bent such that I can keep my legs in place (more or less). This is not easy as my right leg is often stiff as a board. Is this a problem for anyone? Could one actually get injured, were one's leg to misbehave?

Our MS Society here only supplies us with the names of providers. It would be really useful to have a table or graph comparing the specifications of different models. As I sort through what's available here, I'll keep notes.
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Postby Lyon » Sat Jan 05, 2008 2:55 pm

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Postby TwistedHelix » Sun Jan 06, 2008 7:17 am

Hello Elin,
Yes, a misbehaving leg can cause problems: before I started having carers I was alone in the house; sometimes my right leg wouldn't bend at all and I had to wait for ages for it to relax; sometimes it would bend but I didn't have the strength in my arm to bring the foot back all the way to a secure position on the footplate, and sometimes I was halfway up the stairs when it decided to shoot forwards. All of those things can be extremely frightening because the weight of a leg can make you start to slip off the chair, and the panic is guaranteed to make it stiffen up even more. I was never able to do up the seatbelt. I'd wear an emergency pendant so that I could call for help, but no matter how quickly it arrived it seemed like forever.
There are lots of built in safety features like a detector strip around the footplate which stops the lift if anything gets trapped between the plate and the stair, and the seat, which swivels at the top of the landing to block the stairwell and make transferring easier, won't allow the lift to move until it is in the proper, sideways facing, position.
But no machine can tell if your foot has slipped or your leg has straightened out, so you must make plans for that eventuality. For me there is no substitute for having a live, physically fit human being on hand to sort out problems, and in fact these issues don't arise any more because I am positioned carefully and properly in the first place, and there is always someone to help immediately.
I looked at a couple of manufacturers' websites in the UK, and none of them seemed to offer straps or anything on the footplate to hold your feet in position – which might be dangerous anyway – but they give a battery life of 3 to 5 years depending on use, with free replacement if you have a service contract. They also offered 24 hour emergency call out to all their customers: free with a service contract, but still provided if you don't, though of course with a charge.

Bob, what do you mean, at the moment ?
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