Chris Persey, Operations Director at The Stair Climbing Company, discusses how stair climbers are a cost-effective solution for wheelchair users to navigate stairs easily and independently.

Chris Persey, Operations Director at The Stair Climbing CompanyAlmost two percent of the UK’s population are wheelchair users, amounting to some 1.3 million people.

From broken lifts at train stations and a lack of accessible taxis impacting travel to similar issues in multi-storey blocks of flats trapping residents in their home, this year has seen increasing coverage of the daily access issues facing wheelchair users.

There are innovations underway, including the recent addition of wheelchair user lights at pedestrian crossings in the capital, with variants for both manual and electric wheelchair users, in time for International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2023.

While these adaptations are useful when out and about, one of the main barriers to mobility remains the simple staircase.

Advances in technology have made wheelchair lifts, including domestic versions, a viable option, but the significant cost associated with supply, installation, and maintenance place them firmly out of reach for many organisations and individuals.

I think that increasing numbers of care homes and individuals, workplaces, and venues are sourcing alternative, more cost-effective solutions.

In the past year, we have supplied 200 stair climbers for private domestic use, to residential care homes, sports venues, hotels and offices, which is an increase of 50 percent compared to 2022.

I believe a large proportion of their popularity to the lower investment required, with the battery-operated devices costing around £5,000 per unit for supply and training. We also offer rental packages, which are a good solution for temporary needs – whether that’s someone looking after a wheelchair-using parent or relative or a venue with a temporary event looking to provide the most inclusive experience.

Stair climbers are customised to attach to either a specific wheelchair or a variety of wheelchairs, removing the need for the user to leave their chair to use stairs. They can also be supplied with an integrated seat for self-transferring users and are designed to work on a variety of risers, including straight, curved, and spiral staircases both indoors and outdoors.

The units are also favoured by historic buildings and properties with communal stairs, such as the recent provision to King’s Bath, a number of National Trust properties, and housing providers. Because they are fully mobile and operator assisted, they do not have to be attached to a structure and do not require any installation works.

Whether it’s for a short-term temporary hire or permanent solution, we supply the unit and provide training to designated operators, as well as ongoing maintenance plans – the nature of the devices means that breakdowns are minimal, but it’s still important to have regular battery health checks and repair any wear and tear.

The greatest selling point of a stair climber is the freedom that it gives users. Hearing from our customers just how life-changing it is for them to be able to move up and downstairs with their chair and getting feedback from facilities managers and event planners at larger organisations about the difference it makes to their guests and clients really makes you appreciate the impact that such a simple solution can have.

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