Stairlift installation woes(12 Posts)
6 weeks ago elderly relative's stairlift broke. It was old, obsolete, and couldn't be fixed. Stairlift company said they would install a new one for us in 10 days. Ha-fucking-ha. After a series of incremental delays, two surveys and installation cock-ups, they have announced today that they cannot install the promised stairlift because there isn't enough clearance at the narrower parts of the stairs and wouldn't be safe (it's as yet unclear to me why the old one was ok and the promised one not).
Throughout this time, normally active and independent but frail relative has been trapped inside the house, unable to go out, and is suffering for it; it has done neither physical nor mental health any good. Cue visits from relatives 3x day to care for frail relative, which is taking its toll.
Due to the tall, thin construction of the house (and an absolutely batshit crazy decision to retire to such a house) each of the vital functions (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, front door) is on a different floor of the house and there are, in total, 6 flights of stairs. Each was originally due to be connected by one continuous custom stairlift, as it was until the old one broke.
We're getting 2x temporary, hired stairlifts in to cover 2 flights so she can leave the house again, but this isn't a long term solution as the kitchen and bathroom are still inaccessible, and having 6 separate stairlifts, each of which requires a transfer, would be madness. Relative refuses to go into a home, even for respite care, and having explored it a few weeks ago there were no respite spaces available anyway.
We're very lucky that money (within reason) isn't a barrier to finding solution; anything that works out cheaper than the £1k/week for a care home while giving her back her independence has come to be considered good value for money.
I'm at my wit's end; does anyone have any thoughts?
Would there be room to install a narrow lift?
Can you ask for advice from an Occupational Therapist? If money is not an issue and you don’t want to wait for an appointment, you should be able to access one privately.
Sometimes an internal lift is an option, depending on the layout of the property.
I’ve lost one parent to age related illness and the other is in a care home with dementia.
I have learned that the good thing about having a larger house is that it facilitates live-in carers and mobility aids when they are appropriate and when being at home offers the resident the best quality of life.
I have also learned that over time for an elderly person, staying at home becomes a constant battle to do things the way you used to do when your mind and body have changed and will no longer allow you to what was previously possible. At this time various combinations of family, carers and living aids are necessary to bridge the transition. This can be very expensive and stressful for everyone involved including the person themselves. It can be a manageable process but everyone is different.
I use the word transition very deliberately because there comes a time for everyone when staying at home is no longer the best thing in terms of quality of life and other decisions have to be made. This can be for lots of reasons including change in health, isolation or loneliness, change in circumstances for family or carers (including burn out), or in your case when something practical happens to trigger a change.
The point is you have to respond to the change by looking at what your relative needs now and in the future, not trying to retrofit her circumstances now with what she needed 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Even if you were to go to the great effort of putting in a new stair lift do you think she could manage on her own again?
Making a big change is never easy but quite honestly you can either do it when times are good, or you do it when times are hard. Good is when she is of sound mind and can participate in a choice, hard is when something comes along and forces you to make a change when you weren’t ready and frequently you have all the work to do whilst dealing with whatever the problem was.
It sounds like she could really benefit from somewhere like a warden assisted facility where she lives independently but in a flat or similar that is more suitable for her physical needs going forwards. She would also be less isolated and in more of a community which really does make a difference. Good luck
Would you be able to install a domestic lift like there? We considered them for my dF but he had to go to a home instead as his dementia deteriorated so badly.
I tend to agree that moving to a bungalow or sheltered accommodation would be the logical choice in many ways. Unfortunately many of these decisions are being made based on emotion and as relative has capacity / I'm not direct next of kin, there's a limit to how much I can force things. The one big factor in favour of staying where she is is that she has a fantastic support network from close neighbours, and there are no flats, bungalows or sheltered accommodation in the immediate vicinity.
It turns out that the issue with stair lift installation is that building regs have changed since the last stair lift was installed, so it couldn't have been installed in 2018 as now more knee clearance is required, presumably based on what a 6'6 man would need when that's not what we're dealing with. What's most frustrating is that the old one was probably only beyond economic repair, not repair per se. With hindsight...
Unfortunately I don't think through - floor lifts would be an option; it's a period property and the link supplied said they can only do 2 storeys; we're dealing with 4 storeys and 3 half landings, though access to the rooms on half landings is realistically optional.
@Agent do you know of any specific companies that offer these narrow lifts? A perch lift wouldn't work as relative is too frail.
@Greentea thanks for the suggestion of an OT, which hadn't been considered before. I'm currently trying to persuade NOK, who holds the purse strings, that this is a good idea while they deny in the face of all evidence that an OT can advise on equipment. If it was my choice I'd have them around on Monday...
Relative has been cooking simple meals, going out independently on mobility scooter to local shops, and generally looking after herself for years with support, and I don't see that she can't get back to that; the only thing that has changed is her equipment - it's not like there has been a fall or something.
This is a lesson to us all that retiring to houses with 6 flights of stairs is a Very Bad Idea 😬
Why can't the lift be repaired, is it worth putting an advert in local paper to ask for Engineer to try to fix. Spare parts can be bought or made. Which bit of the lift is not working, the electrics, the hardware, the software ?
Unfortunately it was removed during the first of two installation attempts about 3 weeks ago. We've asked for it to be returned and reinstalled on the basis that we have chartered engineers in the family who could potentially repair it, but strongly suspect that it has already gone to landfill. The issues were never fully identified as it was quickly determined that spares were no longer available, but it is probably electrical or electronic in nature.
@silvermagpies, I don’t know any specific companies, sorry. I do know that architects are designing houses to be futureproofed now and are leaving space for lifts. It might be an idea to speak to an architect who specialises in adapted homes to have a look and see what could be done.
Are you certain that the old one was removed and said to be unrepairable, just because a sales person thought that they would get a guaranteed sale and commission ? I would hunt round the internet for other solutions or move things I'm the house
Can she move to a downstairs room? That would allow you to fit future proofed stuff (with advice from OT) like a level access shower, hand rails, ramps etc. Sort of create a bungalow within her house.
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