* This post is kindly sponsored by Handicare. *
We recently purchased a stairlift for our family home and decided to document the process to provide others with realistic insight, starting with the home survey. Handicare are one of our trusted partners who can guide you through the process too.
We recently began searching for a suitable stairlift after an elderly family member (Grandma) had an accident on the stairs. To ensure their safety while mobilising at home, we did some research into the different types of stairlifts, but naturally, we still had some concerns:
• Will it be difficult to operate?
• Will it look out of place once installed?
• Will it prevent others from using the stairs?
We figured a track running alongside the bannister/spindle side of the staircase would be the best choice, because the stairlift fixing plates would be secured directly onto the steps rather than the wall. This would allow the stairlift to follow a curved path at the bottom of the stairs, extending directly around the bannister from the hallway floor. The stairlift would then ascend the main staircase, around the landing, climbing a few more stairs, and eventually stopping directly in the upstairs hallway. This option was a reassuring choice since it eliminated the need for my Grandma to transfer from one lift to another on a narrow landing.
The other option involved a multi-step process, requiring the stairlift to start on the first step since there is no hallway clearance for level entry. The stairlift would then ascend the main staircase along the wall until it reached the landing. From there, one would need to walk several steps to a second stairlift on the opposite wall, before climbing a few more stairs, and finally stopping directly in the upstairs hallway. This option was not only very cumbersome but also defeated the safety aspect.
At this point, we reached out to three UK stairlift manufacturers to better understand the products and prices available. My grandma needed to make an informed decision based on her unique requirements and preferences. All three companies scheduled a home survey in a timely manner, but our local Handicare representative (Craig) had a particularly friendly and knowledgeable approach that made my grandma feel more comfortable discussing such a significant life change.
Craig agreed that the stairlift should wrap around the bannister/spindle side, and proceeded to discuss the differences between the various single and twin rail system components available. For example, on the single rail system, the curved sections protruded out a couple of inches than the twin rail system. Something my grandma wasn’t keen on for aesthetic reasons and the safety of other family members using the stairs as usual.
During the visit, Craig took preliminary measurements of our staircase and mentioned that if we decided to proceed, another representative would conduct a comprehensive survey that included a computer generated image of the stairlift, seat options, and colour choices. My grandmother was especially impressed by this feature, as it can be challenging to envision how a stairlift will look once installed in your home.
Craig also conducted a mobility questionnaire to understand better my grandma's functional, sensory, and cognitive ability to determine the most suitable arrangement for her specific requirements. He acknowledged my grandma's communication needs by noting a family representative on her file. Some examples include:
• Do you have epilepsy, seizures, or involuntary muscle spasms?
• Do you have concerns about safely using a stairlift?
• Do you have difficulty transferring?
• Do you have problems operating controls?
We were given a wealth of information about their latest model, the Handicare 4000, including pricing and product details. My grandma was particularly drawn to the variety of chair designs and colour options available, ultimately choosing the sand-coloured style chair to blend in with her surroundings. Some of the other big selling points were:
• Using thin wiring that can easily be hidden under carpeting if plugging a stairlift into an upstairs bedroom.
• Installing two charging stations, both at the top and bottom of the staircase.
• Installing additional charging/parking points mid-staircase if desired.
• Attaching easy to hold, straightforward to use remote controls on both the downstairs and upstairs walls to suit.
• Having a manual footplate that is lightweight and easy to manoeuvre.
• Having a manual swivel seat that allows for comfortable and simple movement.
• Being able to upgrade to an automatic footplate or swivel seat later.
• Including a two-year warranty and servicing.
• Being able to contact Handicare 24/7, 365 days a year, if any issues arise.
Following the thorough home survey, we deliberated our options before ultimately deciding that Handicare's 4000 stairlift was the best fit for my grandma. Out of the three quotes from different manufacturers, we found Handicare's pricing to be mid-range. However, their price match guarantee allowed them to match the lower quote, which ultimately sealed the deal for us. We were thrilled to find an affordable option that perfectly met our family’s needs. We then contacted the Handicare Customer Service team by phone to place our order and pay the required deposit, and soon received a copy of the stairlift order form and receipt via post.
Stay tuned for the next stage in our stairlift ordering and installation process, which involves using Handicare's ‘virtual’ product preview. In the meantime, if you haven't already, take a look at Handicare's previous blog posts for more valuable insights.