Vertical, or through floor lifts, may maximise your independence by enabling you to move from one floor to another within your home or a public building. If you use a wheelchair they may make it unnecessary for you to transfer out of your chair and onto, for example, a stairlift.
However, vertical lifts need more space than a stairlift and it is sometimes necessary to make structural alterations to your property. It is essential that the lifts are installed by a qualified engineer, that regular maintenance is carried out, and that lifts are inspected and tested every six months by a qualified lift engineer.
Vertical lifts without a shaft
Vertical lifts without a shaft are commonly used in home environments as they require less structural alterations than lifts with a shaft. Although versions are available that carry a seated or standing passenger, most are used by wheelchair users. The lift car is either partially or fully enclosed and usually travels up and down a wall-fixed track(s). Partially enclosed cars let you see outside and may be more suitable if you do not like enclosed spaces. The doors on totally or partially enclosed carriages are electronically interlocked as a safety precaution so that they cannot be opened when the lift is moving, and the lift will not move if the door is open.
In order to travel between floors a trap door or aperture is constructed in the ceiling/floor which automatically opens and closes. When the lift is on the ground floor the gap in the ceiling is covered by an infill that matches the ceiling of the room, whilst when on the upper level the infill blends in with the flooring of that room.
Vertical lifts with a shaft
Lifts for use in any nursing, residential or public building must be enclosed within a shaft and usually require extensive structural alterations. Shafts are usually made of sheet metal or glass, and therefore require minimal building disruption during installation. They can carry more than one person at a time, either someone standing, someone in a wheelchair or both. They can be accessed via a ramp or recessed into a shallow pit for level access.
Considerations when choosing a vertical / through-floor lift When choosing a vertical/through-floor lift consider the following: For wheelchair passengers lift cars offering level or ramped access will be necessary. If you use a self-propelling wheelchair you should make sure that you can open the lift door easily. Some lifts have doors that can be opened using push button controls For seated passengers there is a choice of fixed seats, fold-down seats, perching seats and seats which slide forward to assist access in and out of the lift. Some companies will fix the seat at the most appropriate height for the user Dimensions and house design considerations – it is important that there is enough space for you to approach and enter the lift easily. Most lifts are accessed from the front of the car but some companies are able to offer side door entry. Controls – most lifts have push button controls sited within the car. Some companies offer alternative
control mechanisms and some can position the controls to suit the user. Illuminated controls are available and may be particularly helpful for users with low vision.
Check the following safety features when choosing a lift, many should be included as standard:
emergency lowering via a wind-down handle or a battery operated back-up system. an in car alarm or telephone to call for help. an overspeed governor. an automatic door locking mechanism when the door shuts. smoke and fire detection monitors within the car that will automatically take the car away from the fire and seal the ceiling aperture. a lockable car door, especially if there are young children in the household. sensors underneath the car to detect any objects that could possibly block its path, e.g. toys.
Most companies are also able to offer:
grab rails to assist entry and exit a telephone lights a carpet inside the car