Categories Blog, Irish Stairlifts, ISB Mobility, Mobility Aids, Travel Mobility, Walking Aids

What is Disabled Access

How to overcome mobility issues in poor disability access situations!

What is a wheel chair friendly accessible building?
If a building is to be considered as being fully accessible for people with disabilities, it would need to be easily accessible to wheel chair users on approach to the building. Once in side it needs to be easily accessible to all levels. The corridors and rooms require enough space for turning circles, the doors have to be accessible for both clear opening widths and level access thresholds. The bathroom should have enough space for turning circles and there should be clear access to all facilities within the bathroom. Everything needs to be on the one level including the shower area and there needs to be enough space for transferring at the side of the wc. All areas within the building should also be accessible to wheel chair users. If only certain areas are accessible then the building could classed as wheel chair friendly but certain areas are restricted. This would apply to both public buildings and domestic situations.

Are most public buildings disability friendly?
The short answer is is NO! Not all areas of them anyway, because all the older buildings have to be taken into consideration too.
In most situations when a public building is classed as being wheelchair accessible, you will find that it is reasonably new. They have been purposely designed with mobility in mind and its much easier to achieve this from the planning stages. So all new public buildings should be wheelchair accessible but many older ones would require adaptation. Often this can be costly and in some causes not feasible due to lack of space available.

Are most domestic houses disability friendly?

Again the answer is NO! Most houses have 2 levels and they do not have a means of getting a wheelchair user to the second level. Often the approach to the house could have steps and also the bathing facilities may not be accessible to wheelchair users.
New houses that have been built with a wheelchair user in mind, are designed with level or ramped approach, they are usually on one level. The doors are wider with level access and the shower room would be large with level access entry to the shower, clear access to the basin and transferable space at the side of the wc. The secret to this is all on one level, and lots of space. Many houses can be converted into being wheelchair accessible but, they need to have enough space to allow for lifts, the widening of doors and bathroom conversions etc. Unfortunately most existing houses are not wheelchair accessible and never will be due to lack of available space.

Domestic wheelchair Access solutions and compromises.
If a person requires full wheelchair access and assuming that their house is large enough to make the changes, they can install a Through Floor Home lift which will safely bring them from one level to the next. They may have to sacrifice rooms to allow space for a Through floor lift. Also they may require an outside lift or a ramped approach to the house entrance. This can be a compromise of space verses access, but in most situations the Positives far out weigh the negatives.

Domestic mobility solutions and compromises.
If there isn’t a requirement for full wheelchair access as in most natural ageing related home mobility issues. Then often the stair problem can be overcome be a means of installing a stairlift and the bath can be replaced with a level access shower. If a ramp isn’t required, then maybe steps with extra large treads and smaller risers that are built in uniform would help access upon approach and exiting the entrance. Grab rails can also be erected to help with balance and stability.

The stair lift is fit in situ so the compromise is minimal.
The shower would be level so anybody can use it, but the bath may have to be sacrificed for space.
The steps usually take up more floor area but are often safer to negotiate.

Carl Riley the author of this blog, hopes that the content will be both informative and helpful to you or to somebody you may know who may avail of this information.
www.irishstairlifts.ie
Irishstairlifts and Bathrooms

Categories Blog, Irish Stairlifts, ISB Mobility, Mobility Aids, Travel Mobility, Walking Aids

Wheelchair Users – ‘Through Floor Vertical Home Lift’ or Stairlift’?

What is the user suitability difference?

Stairlifts

Often, people associate home lifts as being Stairlifts, they would of course be correct, but a stairlift is only one type of home lift and is limited to the type of user that it would lend itself to. You have to have a certain amount of leg movement to be able to sit onto a stairlift, they are designed for people who can usually walk on the flat ground, but would struggle with the steps. They are not usually designed for wheelchair transfers, however, there are people who do transfer from their wheel chairs onto Stairlifts and visa versa, but you need a significant amount of upper body strength to be able to do this without the aid of your legs. Also in most instances, the stairlift manufacturers would not recommend transfers from wheelchairs, because they are not designed for this purpose.

Through Floor Lifts

These lifts are specifically designed for wheelchair users in mind, they enable a user of a wheelchair to travel from the ground floor, to the first floor without transferring from the wheelchair. The Through floor lifts are not designed to stand up in, but they can be equipped with an optional in built, fold away seat, thus allowing a person to walk into it and sit down. The lift will then travel up or down depending on which direction you wish to travel in. This is the safest way to travel between floors in your home for a wheelchair user,  because it eliminates the transfer factor, thus reducing the risk of falls.

Location and installation

Stairlifts

These products do what it says on the box, they lift you up the stairs. Whichever type of stairs

You have, the stairlift uses a rail system, which generally bolts to the treads by attaching fixing legs. The rail and support fixings cover the full duration of the stairs in question. The carriage and seat then travel the rail.

Usually installed within 2-6 hours

Through floor lifts

These lifts travel vertically through an opening cut out in your floor. They are attached to guide rails which fix at 3 points, the ground floor, the 1st floor and the upper ceiling. The carriage then travels up and down these guide rails.

Usually installed within 2-3 days

Pros and cons

Stairlifts Pros

Fits quickly and neatly to your staircase
They don’t take up further house space
Essential for a person who can walk but struggles with the stairs
Reliable, Quiet and unobtrusive.
Safe and easy to use

Cons

Not designed for wheelchair users
Reduce the width of your staircase*Through floor lifts

Through floor lifts Pros

Essential for wheelchair users who wish to safely access both levels of their home.
Doesn’t restrict your staircase
Can install confidence and independence to the user.

Cons

2-3 day installation
Takes up a certain amount of space for the lift and approach to the lift within the house on both levels.

Authors opinion

Both types of home lift are excellent when used for their designed purposes.

It is important to carefully choose the best option when deciding upon a specific home lift, that your choice best suits your particular needs, and always with safety in mind.

I recommend that you engage the services of an Occupational Therapist, to help you decide upon which product is most suitable for you and your home.*Through floor lifts Pros Essential for wheelchair users who wish to safely access both levels of their home.

Carl Riley, Irish Stairlifts and Bathrooms