When mobility becomes an issue for you or a loved one and navigating the stairs is becoming more and more of an obstacle, it is time to consider installing a stairlift. Those of us with elderly parents know how important independent living is for their mental health and happiness and, personally, I want to do everything I can to ensure mum and dad stay in their beloved family home.
What is a stairlift (or stairlift elevator)?
A stairlift comprises a seat and a track upon which the user is carried up and down stairs. Stairlifts have an internal motor which is usually powered by batteries located under the seat.
There are many different types of stairlifts available but they all work in much the same way. Most stairlifts are curved or straight and you’ll find the majority of makes offer the same features as standard.
Straight stairlifts are designed to be installed on the left or right hand side of the staircase and are attached to the stair treads rather than the wall. You can find straight stairlifts to fit many types of staircase whether they are long, narrow or steep.
If your staircase has bends or corners, you may need a curved stairlift.
Generally where the staircase is curved, you’ll find these in a variety of designs. There may also be landings to take into account. It is possible to fit a stairlift to a curved staircase but you may need the rails to be custom made.
For a start, you will need to ensure that there is enough room on the landing and stairs for others to go up and down as normal and that the rails fit each curve and bend closely.
How much will a stairlift cost?
Stairlift prices vary according to the type, make and model, however, as a guide, the following points should be taken into consideration:-
- do you need a straight or curved stairlift?
- are there obstructions at the top or bottom of the staircase? For example, do you need to move a radiator or window panels?
- are there one or more landings?
- are you buying a brand new stairlift? Or would you consider a reconditioned one?
- what type of chair will the user need? Standing platforms as well as seated options are available.
- what type of maintenance contract and warranty do you need?
As a guide, however, the average cost of a straight stairlift is around £1800 whilst a curved stairlift is more expensive at an average of £4000.
Note that stairlifts are exempt from VAT as they are classed as a mobility aid.
You may also be able to get a grant from your local council known as a Disabled Facilities Grant.
A Disabled Facilities Grant is designed to help cover the costs of alterations to that home for those who are disabled or have reduced mobility – for example, ramps, handrails, security handles and stairlift installation. It is worth contacting your council to find out what is available. Note, however, that if you have savings over £6000, this may affect the council’s decision.
How much does it cost to run a stairlift?
Stairlifts use rechargeable batteries which are easily able to cope with the average 14 daily journeys up and down stairs. These days they are an every day electrical appliance just like a kettle or microwave so in fact could be cheaper to run than your TV.
Stairlifts are designed to be left on all day – otherwise you will need to recharge them but the annual addition to your electricity bill could be as low as £10 depending on daily use.
Benefits of a stairlift
Installing a stairlift may be one of a raft of measures that will allow your loved ones to stay in their own home. For advice contact your local council who will also be able to put you in touch with an occupational therapist who can assess exactly what adaptations may be needed.
If you are purchasing a stairlift independently, make sure that you do your research and compare any quotes on a like-for-like basis, particularly where installation costs, warranties and maintenance contracts are concerned.