Focus on the big picture

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Q. When should I recommend a stair lift vs. a vertical lift for my client?

A. Whenever you recommend any kind of adaptive equipment for your clients, you should take into consideration their health; the kind of specialized care they need, if any; the space needed for the equipment; the environment they're living in; and their finances.

Stair lifts are great for clients who can ambulate a little, or clients who are in wheelchairs but who are strong enough to laterally transfer themselves from their chairs. But because stair lifts don't always offer easy access to different rooms, vertical lifts are primarily for clients who use wheelchairs.

When deciding whether a stair lift or a vertical lift is the best recommendation, you should also consider a client's health. If lateral transferring is a problem, what will it be like in five years from now? For clients with hip replacements, prosthetics and arthritis, stair lifts work well both inside and outside the home. When a disease sets in, however, clients may want to reconsider their choice of lift. In certain circumstances, vertical lifts and porch lifts won't cost much more, will save space and will allow more versatility.

Finances are also a big part of the decision. Clients may have plenty of room to install either a stair lift or a vertical lift, but if they go with a stair lift because it's "cheaper," that may be shortsighted. If you educate clients and show them that the additional expense may save them money in the long run and keep them from leaving their home permanently, they'll know it's the right decision.

Additionally, you should consider whether you're providing the stair lift or vertical lift to a client who lives somewhere where it snows in the winter. When it comes to weather protection, stair lifts need more attention than vertical lifts.

Another point to consider: Vertical lifts are easier to resell than stair lifts. hme

Robert Gurinowitsch is the owner of Life Access. He can be reached at 866-434-5744 or