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Lifting Devices for Disabled or Mobility Impaired Individuals

Last modified: 2023-01-31 | Approximate reading time 7 mins

Cynthia Pigeon

Perhaps you’re the victim of an accident that’s left you temporarily or permanently disabled. Maybe you're thinking of adapting your staircase for an individual experiencing a loss of autonomy. Perhaps your child with limited mobility is ageing and seeking independence… 

No matter the reasons that have led you to remodel your home to render it more accessible and to facilitate the comings and goings, several home devices are offered for individuals with mobility needs.  

Home Devices for Individuals with Impaired Mobility

Depending on the layout of your home, you’ll be able to choose between a broad line of different specialized devices. But first, assess your needs to narrow down your options before perusing the entire catalogue. 

  • How many floors do you need to render accessible?
  • How much space can go toward installing lifting devices without compromising comfort levels and safety?
  • In general, how much weight will the chair or platform need to uphold, and will the individual in question require assistance? 
  • Do you absolutely need the devices to blend in with your decor, and have various colour or material options available?
  • Do you have a clear-cut budget to uphold, or can you extend your research to include smart or high-tech features and/or functions? 
  • Are you limited in terms are brands and models that are reimbursable by financial assistance programs? 

Lifting Devices Standard

Stairlifts, electric platform lifts, elevators, and patient lifts are designed to make your life easier and daily tasks safer to perform. To ensure their quality, these devices are subjected to strict rules and standards. Whether it be their conceptualization, maintenance, manufacturing, or installation, lifting equipment must respect the Construction Code established by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec and meet the requirements put in place by the Canadian Standards Association.

On top of governmental regulations, it should be noted that device owners are solely responsible for the following:

  • That the device is only used to lift authorized loads directly linked to its main functions, such as a person that’s wheelchair bound, and not that of groceries carried in by children…even if it may seem helpful;
  • Subscribing to a regular maintenance service that’s specific to the device and brand;
  • Equipping doors and gates with safety sensors to ensure that these are properly shut prior to activating the device;
  • Maintaining the function of mechanisms linked to emergency stop buttons and communication features;
  • And never installing nor repairing the device: only certified professionals are authorized to do so.

Since we’re highly aware that these mobility assistance devices are oftentimes quite costly, and that reducing one’s ecological footprint can be done by shopping resourcefully, it isn’t all that surprising that one might shop around on secondhand websites. However, make sure that the devices are approved by the RBQ and have less than five years of service. 

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Stairlifts

stairlift

Source: Tool Dude8mm – Flickr

A stairlift, also known as a stair chair, chair lift, stairway lift, or “Stair Glide,” is designed to prevent falls and exhaustion by allowing individuals with limited autonomy to comfortably access different storeys and cross the threshold of a house or commercial space. 

Normally, this device isn’t practical for wheelchair-bound individuals with limited use of their legs, as they won’t have the necessary stability to move from one seat to another. For that matter, this device is mainly used by seniors or individuals with slight disabilities. 

The indoor stairlift is powered by electricity, but is also outfitted with a battery, in case of a power outage. This device also has a retractable seat belt or centre clasp. It moves up and down slowly, and has a pivoting seat that can be adjusted accordingly during installation. Furthermore, a key-lock feature prohibits anyone from activating the lift without the user’s consent. Lastly, an emergency stop button and an obstacle sensor fine-tune its acute safety features.

This device can be installed in less than a day by screwing it in directly to the stair treads (instead of the wall), and that, on whichever side you want, handrail or no handrail. Common models have a maximum load capacity of 360 pounds and a 35-metre-long railing. This lift starts at $4,000. 

Based on the chosen model, a wide selection of low- to high-end features are available:

  • Seat, footrest, and remote-controlled retractable rail on the landing;
  • Troubleshoot screen;
  • Wireless call centre;
  • Choice of seat colour and finish, and of rails. 
  • Chair angle and width for ergonomic purposes;
  • Subscribing to repair and maintenance services;
  • For straight, curved, custom-curved (with landing) staircases, etc.

Vertical Lift Platforms

lift platform

Source: charlene mcbride – Flickr

The vertical lift platform is one of the most common lifting devices. Less costly than an elevator and less cumbersome than an access ramp, most can accommodate 500 to 1,000 pounds and can be installed within two days. Lift platforms located alongside stairway handrails or walls have a retractable platform and rail to free up space when not in use.

Note that you can also rent an available model if you only need a lift platform for a short period of time (for an event or due to an injury). This option is beneficial, as it’s less costly, doesn't require a slab of cement, and has all the same safety features as a permanent lift platform. 

Outdoor Use:

Some models like the VISTA vertical lift platform are made in Quebec. Therefore, they’re designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, meaning a wide degree of temperature variations and all types of precipitation. 

Made with galvanized steel and mounted on a slab of cement, it can be remotely controlled (from indoors) in due part to a battery. Devoid of a strap, it can go up one storey and end its course atop the balcony, for example. This model is around $7,000.

On the flip side, vertical lift platforms with a strap and door are made bigger and have a higher load capacity, can reach four storeys, and are usually priced between $20,000 to $35,000. 

Indoor Use:

A lift platform installed inside the home embodies the most practical option for an individual who’s wheelchair-bound and can’t easily switch from one seat to another, like that of a standard stairlift. However, considering that its base can measure up to 40 inches wide and 60 inches long, its installation can lead to a large-scale renovation project, depending on the layout of your staircase. Luckily, this unfortunate situation can most often be avoided. 

Patient Lifts & Slings

sling for patient lift

Source: Craig Howel – Flickr

Most often used in healthcare centres or retirement homes, an electric patient lift is specially designed to ensure the safety of caregivers. As a matter of fact, the device ensures that a caregiver can stably and safely transfer an individual with reduced mobility from one surface to another without strain or injury. For example, it can be used when moving from bed to bathtub, or when bed linens are changed. 

Even though the majority of patient lifts are on wheels and, at first glance, don’t amount to a pertinent talking point considering the article’s subject matter, it’s still pretty useful, and thus worth mentioning. One could also note that there are some models that are so big, just like wheelchairs, that doorways need to widen. As for others, you can put together a patient lift that’s affixed to ceiling rails. 

You can also switch the type of sling affixed to the hooks based on your immediate need:

  • Universal;
  • Hammock;
  • Stretcher;
  • Heavy duty;
  • Swimming pool;
  • Bathtub;
  • etc.

One can also find various models of slings, as well as various types of patient lifts (bariatric, U-shaped, split-leg, sit-to-stand, etc.). The device’s durability and that of its components vary based on the frequency of use and general maintenance. Expect to pay between $1,000 and $8,000 to acquire one.

Financial Aid Eligibility Requirements for Persons with Disabilities

Luckily, nowadays, there are hundreds of devices designed to improve quality of life. On top of the ones mentioned in this article, there are access ramps, threshold ramps, shower seats, dumbwaiters, elevators, mechanical chairs and beds, and the list goes on. 

Depending on your circumstances, there are various services available that can help you obtain disability-related financial aid. For example, you could be granted $16,000 of financial assistance from the Residential Adaptation Assistance Program. The Société d'Habitation du Québec offers a Residential Adaptation Assistance Program that provides professional assistance, self-determined needs and work, and retroactive financial assistance.

Likewise, aside from being wheelchair-bound, there are many other disabilities that are eligible for a tax credit: hearing, visual, physiological, cognitive, chronic illness, speech, etc.

Naturally, to benefit from these assistance programs, you must meet certain eligibility criteria. More specifically, the condition diminishing your quality of life must be permanent or persist long enough to justify significant expenses (equipment, home renovations, adapted transportation services, caregiver/private nurse, etc.). Therefore, you'll have to include proof of your situation in your admission file, as provided by a health professional or a recognized organization (SAAQ, CNESST, CLSC, IVAC).

Cover image source: Jacobo Tarrío - Flickr

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