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When’s the right time?

This month, we've collaborated with Occupational Therapist Sophia Dickinson BSc (Hons.), MRCOT, Founder of Home Independence Occupational Therapy Ltd, to talk about when it's the right time to consider a stairlift. Sophia also shares with us information about her role as an Occupational Therapist and how she helps people to maintain their skills and independence with everyday activities in their home.

Sophia also talks about the positive impact that a stairlift can have on a person’s life and the signals that indicate a stairlift could be a necessary solution for moving between the upstairs and downstairs as mobility becomes an issue.

Sophia, many people have reservations about getting a stairlift and feel it could take away their mobility – from your experience, what would your view be on this?

If an individual has reservations about getting a stairlift, due to a fear that it may reduce their mobility. I would ask about their current level of mobility.

• Are they walking with a mobility aid or independently?

• How far can they currently walk? Do they tire easily? Do they experience shortness of breath?

• Can they complete the stairs easily now or are they beginning to find the stairs is exhausting? Do they feel anxious about completing the stairs?

• Do they have stair rails in place to help them?

• Have they ever felt unsafe to complete the stairs or worried that they lack the strength to continue?

This information would help me to assess the current mobility, levels of fatigue, shortness of breath, emotional wellbeing, and the impact on energy levels.

Completing stairs is a great form of exercise for those who are physically able to manage without risk of injury or harm, fatigue, or shortness of breath. However, for those with reduced mobility, who are finding that completing the stairs is exhausting, a stairlift could be the perfect solution.

If people don’t feel ready for a stairlift, what else could they do to ensure they are still able to access vital parts of their home such as the bathroom and kitchen whilst remaining mobile?

If an individual does not feel ready for a stairlift but is unsafe to complete the stairs due to a risk of falling down the stairs. I would advise them not to use the stairs at all and instead to have a downstairs existence.

I would ask the following questions:

• Do you have two reception rooms? Can one of them become a bedroom?

• Do you have an easily accessible toilet downstairs? Or is a commode needed?

• If a commode is needed, who will empty it?

• Do you have level access shower facilities downstairs? If not, can you manage to have an all over

body wash independently? If not, can someone help you?

I would assess the environment to reduce the risk of falls and offer solutions to promote independence.

What would you say are the ‘red lights’ that might indicate a stairlift could be needed relatively quickly?

There are several factors which could indicate that a stairlift is needed.

• Reduced mobility, the need for a walking aid, such as a walking stick or a walking frame.

• Fatigue

• Shortness of breath

• Existing stair rails no longer appear to be helpful

• Feelings of anxiety related to the stairs

• Worry that they are unsafe to complete the stairs or that they lack the strength to continue?

And finally, there have been many concerns, particularly for the elderly, around Covid-19 and allowing people into their home. In your view, should visits from Occupational Therapists and stairlift companies be less of a priority during this time?

Understandably COVID-19 is a worry for most people, particularly for those considered to be in a high-risk category. I would expect Occupational Therapists and stairlift companies to complete a thorough risk assessment, with an active operational policy with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in p-lace prior to entering a home.

Many of my clients are keen to have Occupational Therapists and stairlift companies visit as soon as possible because they are struggling to complete the stairs. Accessing the upstairs of the home is important to most people, particularly if the bathroom and bedroom is located upstairs. Others are afraid of having a fall which could lead to a hospital admission.

At this present time, we do not know how long COVID-19 restrictions will continue. It is a personal decision whether to prioritise visits from Occupational Therapists and stairlift companies. Ultimately, this decision reflects on an individuals’ priorities at the time.

Sophia’s company - Home Independence Occupational Therapy - was been founded on care, compassion and dignity. Sophia Dickinson has been a qualified OT since 2003, and works with Candor Care to help make positive changes to people’s lives.

You can get receive a FREE consultation from Sophia by telephoning her on 07341265564 or through her website -


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