Access Ramp Vs. Stairlift – Which Is Right for You?
The bottom line:
- There are many options available to help those ageing in place to get around their homes safely as their mobility decreases.
- Deciding between the mobility options available to you will depend on your home and needs.
- Stairlifts and homelifts are better suited to flights of stairs, whereas access ramps are a better option where only a couple of steps or uneven flooring is concerned.
For many people, getting in, out, or around their homes becomes an issue at some point in their lives, whether due to ageing or an accident or illness resulting in reduced mobility. There’s a direct correlation between a loss of strength, balance, or coordination and the risk of tripping over thresholds or stumbling on the stairs. Fortunately, nowadays, there are many solutions to aid accessibility within our homes, from wheelchair access ramps to stairlifts, each of which is available with an ever-growing range of options.
Getting In and Out of Your Home with an Access Ramp
If getting up those steps to your front door is becoming a problem or getting across the threshold out into the back garden, then an access ramp may be the helping hand you need.
Access ramps are sloped pathways that enable users to bypass a step or two, a short flight of stairs or an uneven surface either indoors or outdoors. Particularly apt for wheelchair users and those with other mobility aids, they come in various lengths, inclinations, weight capacities and materials to suit a wide range of needs. In fact, there are even temporary options of access ramps if you or a loved one needs to use a walking aid in the short term.
However, a stairlift may be more appropriate if you’re looking at enabling access between floors.
Getting Up and Down the Stairs with a Stairlift
As more and more people decide to age in place, stairlifts are becoming a common solution to the issue of navigating staircases.
Installed alongside your stairs, a stairlift consists of a seat fixed onto a rail, helping users glide up and down the stairs with ease via a handy remote control. As with access ramps, there are numerous options available regarding the chair itself; materials, sizes, shapes and styles, the shape and length of the stairlift rail and the remote control. A stairlift can suit a wide range of needs.
Stairlifts are comfortable and straightforward to use for many people, including wheelchair users, as long as they can get in and out of them without assistance.
Stairlifts For Wheelchair Users
For some wheelchair users, a stairlift may not be ideal if they need assistance to manoeuvre themselves in and out of their wheelchair. This is where a platform lift may be more suitable.
The concept and installation of a platform lift are very similar to a stairlift. The main difference is that a platform lift can be ridden by someone without needing to get out of their wheelchair; they just wheel straight onto and off the platform. Although the platform can be folded away when not in use, a platform lift cannot be installed in narrow stairways due to lack of space when in use.
Platform lifts can also be installed outdoors alongside steps to an entrance in place of an access ramp when steps are particularly steep.
Which one is right for you?
Access ramps, stairlifts, and platform lifts suit different needs, so let’s sum up the key features regarding who they are for, where they can be installed, and an indication of the possible costs involved.
- For wheelchair or walking-aid users, whether temporary or long-term.
- Can be indoor and outdoor over thresholds, steps, short flights of stairs and uneven surfaces.
- Depending on size and material, costs start from as little as €100, going up to around €2,000 plus installation costs.
- For people who may struggle with the strength, balance or coordination required to navigate a staircase and wheelchair users who can get in and out of their chair independently.
- Can be indoor and outdoor, along any staircase, whether straight or curved, wide or narrow and over multiple floors.
- Reconditioned straight stairlifts start at around €1,200, with brand new ones coming in at around the €2,000 mark. For more complex or bespoke designs, costs can go up to several thousand. Installation costs are usually covered by the provider. Batteries need replacing around every three years and typically cost between €40-€80.
- For people who cannot get in and out of their wheelchair independently and need access to other floors.
- Similar to stairlifts, although platform lifts cannot be installed on narrow staircases due to the lack of space when the platform is unfolded.
- Starting prices are slightly higher for platform lifts, around €3,500 for a relatively simple lift, with prices increasing the more complex the design is.
Stairlifts and access ramps for the home are becoming ever more commonplace, and the number of options is constantly expanding, meaning that there is a range of choices to suit yours or your loved one’s needs. There are also funding options available to Irish seniors, which may help cover the costs of any home adaptations necessary.
Want to find out more or need guidance with choosing the right mobility aid for you or your loved one? Get in touch!