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