Definition: Defining the Meaning of Stairlifts & Transfer Aids
A stairlift is a mechanical device for lifting people and wheelchairs up and down stairs. Sometimes special purpose lifts are provided elsewhere to facilitate access for the disabled, for example at entrances to raised bus stops in Curitiba, Brazil (illustrated above). A wheelchair lift is specifically designed to carry the user and the wheelchair. This can either be through floor or utilizing the staircase.
Adaptive technology such as sling lifts or other patient transfer devices help transfer users between beds and chairs or lift chairs (and other sit-to-stand devices), transfer or convertible chairs.
Hoists and lifts for the disabled and seniors with mobility problems come in many types and sizes depending on their purpose, and the location they will be fitted if permanent or semi-permanent.
Care providers are faced with numerous challenges daily. A patient hoist is often required where there is a lift and transfer need. For example to transfer a patient from a chair to a bed, into a bathtub or onto a toilet. Choosing a system designed with the carer and patient in mind is vital.
There are several types of hoisting systems available on the market and manufacturers worldwide are designing new hoists which make the lifting and transfer of patients an easier experience.
Stair Lifts - There are different kinds of stair lifts to fulfill the needs of different people with different conditions and disabilities. They can be installed on almost any type of stairway, regardless of the length of the stairway. Whether the stair case is spiral or straight, a stair lift can be installed even in the most toughest spots. They are generally intended for indoor use, however there are lifts that have been specifically designed for out door use. The barrier of stairs can be removed by using a stair lift. These electrically operated devices are easy to use and not very expensive. Stair lifts are also known as stair gliders, stair chairs or chair lifts. They carry the disabled or the elderly gently and safely up the stairs. Ensure that the stair lift can swivel at the upper landing and turn away from the stairs to provide a confident and safe method to get off. If the stair lift comes with a remote control, it will assist the caregiver in case the individual can not operate the controls themselves. Easyclimber.com has recently put together an informative article on how to choose a stair lift at: www.easyclimber.com/how-to-choose-a-stair-lift/
There are generally two main types of stair lift - standing stair lifts and seated stair lifts. Standing ones are those that can be used by people who have no problem in standing or walking but are unable, or experience difficulty in, bending their legs. These people include those with medical disorders that prevent them from bending their legs. This type of stair lift does not need a lot space to be installed and therefore can be used in tight and narrow spaces with ease. The seated wheelchair stair lifts are those which are generally used by people who have a problem with standing for long periods, or are completely disabled and cannot stand at all (for example, people in wheel chairs).
Overhead Hoists - There are two types of overhead hoist, ceiling fixed track and portable track. A ceiling track hoist consists of a piece of rail/track which is permanently attached to the ceiling. The track can be fitted to timber joists if available or chemical fixed into concrete ceilings. If for any reason the ceiling can't be used it may be possible to fasten the track to the wall.
Portable Ceiling Lifts - Have a patient sling, motorized pulley system or motorized unit integrated with a removable battery powered hoist. To support the patients as they are lifted in a reclining position or during gait training or un-weighted walking, the ceiling lifts have a sling or harness. The overhead ceiling lift is attached with a multiple overhead track system to meet lifting needs. The track systems are available in various forms including free standing/semi-permanent; single track - to move single route across multiple or single room; 2-strap - to move across doorways; and X-Y traverse track system - to move along the X and Y axis. The free standing track system is an alternative for ceiling installed track system. The easy to hold and carry ceiling lifts are available in various load carrying capacities.
Mobile Floor Hoists - Floor hoists have been designed especially with the domestic care environment and patient in mind. Electric and hydraulic units are available.
Wall Lift Hoists - The wall lift has been designed especially for home use. They are inexpensive, versatile and easy to install. The lift can be made portable with the use of additional wall brackets and is particularly useful in bathrooms where space can be at a premium
Wheelchair Platform Lifts - Ideal accessibility options for older and disabled people. Using these devices, these individuals can reduce the accessibility problems in their homes or offices and gain more freedom, mobility and independence. These lifts are effective solutions which are designed to lift a disabled person or a senior with mobility problems from one floor to another while comfortably sitting in it. These can be operated either using electricity or hydraulics. Safety features that are commonly included in these lifts are emergency stop button, constant pressure control buttons, under-platform obstruction sensors, final limit switch, and anti-slip flooring.
Quick Facts: Stairlift
The first recorded instance of the use of a stairlift was by Henry VIII when his well-known weight issues became too much for his servants. It is thought that whilst jousting, the famed overweight king sustained an injury and was unable to make it up the stairs of Whitehall Palace. Today, the benefits of stairlifts may be well-known by the human community, but they are now even being realized by our four-legged friends as people have started installing dog and cat stairlifts.
Statistics: Stairlift Use
Demand for the Stair Lift Manufacturing industry has grown during the five years to 2014, as the growing elderly population has increasingly experienced age-related health problems, such as arthritis, which makes climbing stairs difficult. The current size of the global stair lift industry is said to be around 100,000 units. Broken down this amounts to 62,000 straight lifts and 38,000 curved lifts, with the largest market being in the UK where approximately 36,000 new lifts are sold each year. Not surprisingly, given the public sector funding available, the UK and Netherlands have the highest ratio of stair lifts for every over 65 person in the population. General consensus is that other markets may now grow rapidly. For example, the North American market is forecast to grow by around 10% per annum. The US Census Bureau predicts that by 2030, the percentage of the US population over the age of 65 will have risen to around 19%, compared to 13% today. Other factors pointing towards potential growth in North America is the increasing market awareness of stair lifts, more disposable income available to the over 65's and the quality of products and expertise available locally.