Chairlift for Stairs: Guide, Benefits and Costs

chairlifts for stairs

A chair lift for stairs, often simply called a stair lift, is a motorised chair that travels along a rail attached to a staircase. It’s particularly beneficial for older adults, people with disabilities, or those recovering from surgery.

Chair lifts, or early stair lift devices, date back to the mid-1500s, when King Henry VIII used a rudimentary version. However, the modern era of stair lifts began with C.C. Crispen’s invention of the “Inclin-ator” in the 1920s. Since then, stair lift technology has significantly evolved, incorporating advanced safety features and designs to meet diverse needs, according to the Stannah Blog.

Popular brands such as Stannah, Acorn, and Handicare offer a variety of chair lifts, each with unique features and advantages to cater to individual needs and preferences. From Stannah’s renowned comfort and customisation options to Acorn’s user-friendly interface and affordability, there’s a chairlift to suit every requirement and budget.

This article covers everything you need to know about chairlifts for stairs. We discuss the different types of stair lifts, explain their benefits, present the cost breakdown, and offer insights to help you make an informed decision.

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What is a chair lift for stairs?

what is a chair lift for stairs?

A chair lift for stairs, or stair lift, is a motorised chair that travels along a rail securely mounted to the staircase. These devices are especially helpful for elderly individuals, people with disabilities, and those recovering from surgery or injury. They reduce the risk of falls on the stairs, which is a major cause of injury among older adults, and promote independence by allowing users to move between different levels of their homes without assistance.

Falls are a significant health concern for older adults in the UK. According to the NHS, about one-third of adults over 65 and half of those over 80 experience at least one fall each year. Falls are a leading cause of injury and hospitalisation in this age group. Preventative measures, such as installing stair lifts, can greatly reduce these risks and enhance safety and independence at home.

The British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA) classifies these devices as Class I medical equipment. This classification means they follow strict safety regulations. Manufacturers must ensure their products are sturdy and reliable, guaranteeing that the chair lifts meet high safety and quality standards.

Chair lifts come equipped with safety features such as seat belts, sensors to detect obstacles and emergency stop buttons. The rail system is custom-fitted to the stairs, allowing the lift to move smoothly along straight, curved, or even outdoor steps. The seat includes a comfortable cushion, footrest, and armrests to ensure a secure and comfortable ride.

What is the difference between a chair lift and a stair lift?

difference between a chair lift and a stair lift

In the UK, “chair lift” and “stair lift” are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences. “Stair lift” is the more accurate term, referring to a motorised chair that travels along a rail mounted to the stairs to assist people with mobility issues. “Chair lift” can be used colloquially for stair lifts but can also refer to other types of lifts, like those used in ski resorts or swimming pools.

In the context of home mobility aids, both terms generally mean the same thing. According to Age Co Mobility, all chair lifts are stair lifts, but not all stair lifts are chair lifts. This distinction exists because some stairlifts are designed for individuals who cannot sit comfortably and need to perch or stand instead.

Therefore, if you require a seated position to move along the stairs, a “chair lift” is appropriate. However, “stair lift” is a broader term that includes all types of motorised lifts designed for sitting, perching, or standing while travelling up and down stairs.​

What are the benefits of stair chair lifts?

Stair chair lifts offer numerous benefits, including reduced falls and enhanced safety, increased independence, improved accessibility within the home, and the ability to remain in one’s own home. Here’s a detailed look at these advantages:

Reduced falls and enhanced safety

chairlifts for stairs enhances safety and reduces falsl

Falls are a significant concern for individuals with mobility challenges, particularly on stairs. In the UK, falls are a leading cause of injury-related hospital admissions for older adults, with over 220,000 admissions recorded in England in 2019-2020, according to NHS data. 

While the data doesn’t specifically track where these falls occur, it’s well-established that stairs pose a particular risk for falls, especially for those with mobility issues. This underscores the importance of effective preventative measures throughout the home, such as stairlifts, to reduce the risk of falls and associated injuries.

The NHS and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognise home adaptations, including stairlifts, as valuable interventions to prevent falls. 

Increased independence

Stairlifts transform the lives of individuals with mobility limitations by restoring their autonomy and freedom of movement within their homes. This newfound independence allows them to carry out daily activities, engage in hobbies, and maintain social connections without relying on assistance. 

According to Lifeway Mobility, stairlifts significantly improve independence for older adults, with users reporting greater confidence and self-sufficiency at home. This increased independence boosts physical well-being and enhances mental health by fostering a sense of control and reducing feelings of dependency and isolation. 

Improved accessibility

chair stairlifts improve accessibility

In the UK, a significant proportion of homes are multi-level, posing challenges for individuals with mobility issues. According to the English Housing Survey 2021-22, about 33% of households in England live in properties with two or more storeys. This can make accessibility a major concern for those with mobility limitations. Stairlifts address this issue by making multi-level homes fully accessible, allowing safe and convenient navigation of stairs. 

This accessibility is crucial for maintaining normal daily routines and social connections, thereby reducing the risk of social isolation and depression. Furthermore, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognises home adaptations, including stairlifts, as valuable interventions to support independent living and enhance the quality of life for older adults.

Cost saving 

chair stairlifts for seniors at home saves cost

Stairlifts can be a cost-effective solution compared to moving to a single-story home or adapting a home to be all on one level. Installing a new stairlift typically starts from £2,000 to £5,000 for a straight stairlift and can exceed that estimate for a curved model, depending on specific needs and customisations.

In contrast, moving to a single-story home involves significant expenses, including realtor fees, closing costs, and moving costs, whereas researching stairlift prices in the UK options could reveal a more affordable solution for maintaining independence. 

Additionally, the emotional cost of leaving a familiar environment can be substantial. Residential care in the UK, according to CareHome UK in 2024, averages around £1,160 per week (£4,640 per month) for residential care and £1,410 per week (£5,640 per month) for nursing care. 

These costs can be a significant financial burden for many. For individuals who primarily need assistance with navigating stairs and don’t require extensive care, a stairlift can be a more economical choice in the long run.

Preserve the ability to stay in place

For many individuals in the UK, particularly older adults, the ability to remain in their own homes is a cherished aspiration. A survey by the Live in Care Hub found that nearly three-quarters of individuals wish to remain in their homes as they grow older, but mobility challenges, particularly those involving stairs, can threaten this independence for anyone. 

Chairlifts for stairs or stairlifts offer a solution for people of all ages, not just older adults. Removing the barrier of stairs allows individuals to maintain their independence and continue living in familiar surroundings. 

This not only preserves cherished belongings and memories but also saves substantial long-term care costs by delaying or preventing the need for assisted living facilities or care homes.

Enhance emotional well-being 

The emotional benefits of staying in one’s own home extend to everyone, regardless of age or ability. Familiar environments, personal possessions, and routines contribute significantly to well-being and a sense of belonging that’s often difficult to replicate in an institutional setting. 

A study titled “A Place Called Home: Identifying the Meaning of Home to Older People” highlights the profound connection between home environments and older adults’ sense of identity, belonging, and well-being. 

Stairlifts empower individuals to live a more fulfilling, independent, and emotionally satisfying life in the comfort of their own homes.

In essence, chair stair lifts are not merely assistive devices; they are tools for enhancing safety, independence, accessibility, and overall quality of life. Whether for older adults, individuals with disabilities, or anyone facing mobility challenges, stairlifts offer a transformative solution for staying safely and comfortably in one’s home.

How much does a chair lift for stairs cost?

On average, the cost of a chair lift for stairs starts at £2,000 and can exceed £5,000 for new models in the UK. Reconditioned stairlifts can be up to 30% cheaper. However, costs can increase based on the model and additional features. 

Table 1: Chair lift models and prices

Brand & Model  Staircase type  Starting price (GBP)
Stannah Siena Straight £3,150
Acorn 130 Straight  £2,000
Handicare 1100 Straight £2,200
Stannah Starla Curved £4,995
Acorn 180 Curved £5,000

These prices are estimates. For accurate prices you can request a stairlift quote from us. 

Factors influence chair lifts for stairs prices.

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What are the types of chair lift for stairs?

There are five main types of stairlifts to accommodate different needs and staircase configurations: straight, curved, outdoor, standing (also known as perch lifts), and platform lifts for wheelchairs.

straight stair lifts and curved chair stair lifts

Straight stair lifts

Straight chair lifts for stairs are the most commonly used type of stairlift. They are designed for simple, straight staircases without any bends or landings. These lifts are typically the most affordable option and straightforward to install. 

Curved stair lifts

Curved stairlifts are custom-made to fit the unique contours of staircases with bends, curves, or intermediate landings. While more expensive than straight stairlifts, they offer a tailored solution for complex staircases.

Outdoor stairlifts and standing stairlifts

Outdoor stair lifts

Outdoor stairlifts, engineered to withstand the elements, are designed for exterior staircases. They provide safe access to gardens, patios, or elevated entrances. They are built with weather-resistant materials and have features like waterproof covers to ensure reliable operation in various weather conditions.

Standing/Perch stair lifts 

Unlike traditional seated stairlifts, standing or perch stairlifts are designed for individuals who prefer or need to remain in a standing position while using the lift. These lifts typically have a small platform for the user to stand on and lean against a backrest, making them suitable for those with limited flexibility in their hips or knees.

Platform chairlifts for wheelchairs

Platform stairlifts for wheelchairs

Platform chairlifts, also known as wheelchair lifts, accommodate wheelchairs, providing a secure and easy way for wheelchair users to navigate stairs. These lifts have a larger platform to hold the wheelchair and can be used both indoors and outdoors. Platform lifts, like the Stannah Stairiser SR for straight stairs and the Stairiser CR for curved stairs, are ideal for homes or public buildings that need to provide accessibility for wheelchair users. These chairlifts are more expensive than traditional stairlifts because of their size and additional functionality, but they are essential for ensuring accessibility in various settings.

Conclusion

Chairlifts are more than just mobility aids; they empower individuals to maintain their independence, safety, and quality of life within their own homes. By understanding the different types of stairlifts available, their costs, and their potential benefits, you can make an informed decision about whether a stairlift is the right solution for you or your loved one.

However, many UK residents struggle with deciding on the right stairlift or chairlift, often delaying the help they need.

If you or a loved one struggle to navigate stairs and are unsure which chair lift would best suit your unique staircase and individual needs, we’re here to assist. With three free quote requests, we can connect you with experts in our network of stairlift providers who will offer accurate estimates and personalised advice.

Fill out the form above in less than a minute and avoid the hassle of hours of research. Let us help you find the perfect stairlift solution to regain your freedom of movement and enhance your quality of life.

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FAQ

What is the average cost of a chair lift?

The average cost of a chair lift starts from £2,000 to £5,000, depending on the model and features. Straight stair lifts are generally cheaper than curved ones and other factors like installation complexities can increase cost. 

How much does it cost to put in a lift chair?

Installation costs for a chair lift can range from £500 to £1,500, depending on the complexity of the installation.

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