Stairclimbers and their role in enabling compliance with the Care Act

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by Peter Wingrave, Director, AAT GB

The Care Act 2014 has become one of the most crucial legal considerations for Occupational Therapists. No-one has yet addressed how provision of mobility equipment- specifically stairclimbers- provide a simple, effective, best-value solution to meeting several of the Act’s key areas.


Section 1 of the Act states there is a duty to promote the wellbeing of the individual, including personal dignity and domestic/ family relationships. Section 2 places a general duty to provide/ arrange resources to prevent, delay or reduce the need for care and support. Indeed, RCOT’s own guidance states “such prevention, delay or reduction in need is not only good for people – but hopefully can also save the local authority money. Spend a pound on prevention and save ten on what would otherwise have been eligible, greater needs.”

Without wishing to trivialise the situation, a stairclimber ticks many of the boxes, not just for the recipient, but the Occupational Therapist, care givers and other household/family members- areas that are often not even thought about!

A stairclimber maintains the user’s dignity and wellbeing. If prescribed to address a change in physical or mental ability, or to help them go home after a stay in hospital, it empowers them to remain in their own home and be able to use their own bedroom and bathroom without the indignity of having their bed moved downstairs into the living accommodation and often having to use a commode. For growing children with special needs, it restores safety to the process of going up and down stairs, usually historically undertaken by their care-giver carrying them.

A stairclimber goes beyond a flight of stairs. It can just as easily accommodate a couple of steps, in and out of the home or other building. Thus it opens the doors to the ability to participate in the wider community. It means the family as a whole can still use all rooms within the home without limitation. It means the family as a whole can go out for a meal, a day trip, a holiday without worrying about level access.

 You can’t put a stairlift in the car boot!

The key to effective stairclimber prescription is assessment- of the passenger, the home environment and the operator. The passenger and operator both need to feel happy using the equipment. Professional assessment will determine any accessories required to ensure the passenger is safely and correctly supported. Professional training ensures the care givers are fully equipped to use the stairclimber, safely supporting their charge and feeling in complete control of the transfer process.  It will also address the correct configuration for the property: the AAT range of stairclimbers can accommodate almost every common design of staircases, including narrow flights, turns and half-landings.

Stairclimbers reach the parts other transfer equipment can’t…

Many homes cannot be structurally altered to accommodate a stairlift or through-floor lift. Many people in need of an adaptation do not want the stress nor disruption of such an alteration to their home. A stairclimber requires no physical adjustment to the house. It does not require (although it can be provided via) Disabled Facilities Grant funding, so can be supplied time-efficiently. Often it can be provided from equipment stores, requiring no purchase procedure, thus giving the Local Authority best value via re-issue and preventing the need for – and cost of- even a short-term admission to a care or nursing home. AAT fully services each unit before re-issue, assesses each user and trains each care giver as part of the offering.

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