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Disabled Facilities Grant funds ‘magic’ Stiltz Home lift for stroke survivor Steve

Steve Waller, 64 from Rotherham, is the latest stroke survivor to be safer at home after the installation of a brand new Stiltz Trio+ Home lift, partly funded by a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG).

Steve has lived in Brampton, north of Rotherham, for over 25 years after working in the Heavy Plant Industry and charity sector. Due to his increasing visual impairment and the need to provide care for his son who developed a life limiting condition, Steve gave up his career to focus on life at home. Despite remaining physically fit, at the beginning of 2019 Steve experienced a stroke and paralysis whilst travelling on a bus to Rotherham.

Fast forward eighteen months and Steve has made a remarkable recovery but still lives with limited mobility and balance issues. These are exacerbated by his visual impairment which when combined, presents a safety risk while using the stairs. Following several falls and injuries, most recently in January 2020, Steve decided he needed to find a solution.

Relocation or Home Adaptation?

Before trying to find ways of moving safely between floors, Steve looked at buying a different house. A single storey home would solve his problems however he discovered bungalows were ‘massively expensive’ and there was nothing suitable close by anyway. Being content for so long in Brampton he didn’t want to relocate to an unfamiliar area. When he decided moving was not an option and was still unaware of home lifts, he began researching stairlifts online.

He also enquired about equipment funding with the local council who assigned him an Occupational Therapist (OT) to assess his needs.

Overcoming the Stairs

Steve had received limited adaptations at home during his rehabilitation, such as dual handrails on the stairs, however these were proving ineffective as his mobility and vision became more challenging.

He thought that a stairlift could possibly offer a safe solution for moving between floors, however his narrow staircase had two turns, so space was a major issue.

Plus he felt transferring into a seat especially at the top of the stairs would be too risky for him. Steve continued to search for a more suitable solution which led him to Stiltz.

When comparing home lifts to stairlifts, Steve enthused, “Stiltz Home lifts look so much better both practically and visually.” Steve continued to research possible funding solutions and contacted the Sheffield Royal Society for the Blind who gave him information about DFGs.

About the Disability Facilities Grant (DFG)

A DFG is mandatory funding from local authorities which can pay for essential housing adaptations, such as a home lift. These help disabled people remain safely in their home and live independently for longer without the need for residential or domiciliary care.

Applicants must own the property or be a tenant with the intention of living there for a minimum of five years.

The council must be satisfied that the work is ‘necessary and appropriate’ to meet the needs of a disabled person, the request is ‘reasonable’ and ‘can be done’.

Steve discussed a DFG with his Occupational Therapist: “I explained to her that I’d like to apply for a DFG to fund a home lift however I was told this might not be possible.

A stairlift could be funded, yet I didn’t want one, especially as I felt my staircase and my conditions were not suitable.

I was a little confused by this advice, however after pushing my case I was instructed to obtain three stairlift and three home lift quotes so the council could make a decision.

They took into consideration my Occupational Therapist’s report and I had a very detailed form to complete however to be fair, they were pretty quick in the end and I received grant approval within two months.”

In February 2020, a Stiltz Assessor visited Steve to complete an initial assessment of his needs. The most appropriate home lift and its location within his home which for my curved stairs wasn’t the cheapest option – and I paid the extra to get a home lift.

Stiltz were the most competitively priced of all the home lift companies even though their design and quality was much better.

On completion of the job, Stiltz invoiced the council directly for the DFG contribution and I paid Stiltz for the shortfall, all very easy.”

The advantage of a home lift means I can live alone without worrying about risk of injury.

Full assessment to installation service provided

With DFG funding and Steve’s contribution all organised, Stiltz sent a Technical Surveyor in May to complete a structural report. The location of the home lift was confirmed along with recommendations that highlighted the building work required to complete the floor aperture.

There were no major barriers identified with only a joist and central heating pipework needing to be relocated.

As with all Stiltz Home lifts, no complex electrical wiring was required with the product plugging into a newly added standard 240v wall socket. Steve asked Stiltz to manage the whole process – from submission of building regulations and pre-installation work, to home lift installation and commissioning. The project was completed within four days and with no hassle.

“I was so impressed with all the Stiltz team, they were professional and polite.”

“It all started with Alistair carrying out my initial assessment, he was really positive… we laughed and joked and he even coped with drinking my coffee! He didn’t sell to me, only offered information so I could make my own mind up.

He was quite different to the other lift companies I saw who went for more a ‘salesy’ approach which I didn’t like. Stiltz never hounded me with follow up calls, not like the others, they just left me to think things through and to contact them when I was ready.

I felt in control and reassured all the way through the process. Every stage was completed in a thorough manner and Gino, one of the Directors from Stiltz, was so supportive during the COVID-19 lockdown.”

Future-proofed independence

Independence at home is vital for everyone, none more so than Steve. Classed as vulnerable, Steve has been shielding due to his type 1 diabetes and because he has to take prescribed chemotherapy medication.

The advantage of a home lift means he can live alone and not worry about carer support or the risk of injury: “I do not want to be going to A&E currently that’s for sure,” exclaims Steve.

“My home lift means I can live safely with my retired guide dog Evie and avoid exposure to coronavirus. I still receive visits from my community stroke nurse though – she has been that impressed with my Stiltz Home lift, she has told all her colleagues about it and re-introduced DFGs into her staff and patient training.

I believe a home lift is a far, far better solution for stroke survivors than a stairlift. Even if you just look at the simple things in life like taking your washing up and down the stairs, my Stiltz Home lift has made such a difference.

I used to have to throw my clothes down the stairs and then try climb over them. There was no way I could carry a washing basket downstairs. I would regularly trip over my washing which was a big worry. Not anymore.

I get into my home lift, sit on the chair with my washing basket by my feet and away I go.”The ergonomic design of multi-award winning Stiltz Home lifts is highly regarded amongst healthcare professionals and end users. Its simplistic, intuitive controls provide Steve with added support due to his visual impairment and restricted movement. He chooses to operate the home lift by using the remote control whilst sitting on the chair.

Steve can open the door without issue and the invisible light curtain above the door ensures the lift stops if a protrusion is detected. The electrically powered motion is smooth which is important for Steve’s stability and the mechanisms are whisper quiet. Overall the process of obtaining a home lift with a DFG contribution was positive for Steve, he had challenges to overcome in terms of funding nevertheless the Stiltz support was invaluable.

“Aspects of day-to-day life were becoming a real pain before owning my home lift. Now I rarely use the stairs and the worry of fallshas vanished.”

I would hope more healthcare professionals and councils gain better knowledge of Stiltz Home lifts and why they can provide a better solution than a stairlift. No one should come up against resistance when seeking mandatory funding of a product that keeps them safe and independent at home.

I’m so lucky to live where I live with Evie. I can relax listening to my music and live a normal life getting up and downstairs when I like. It’s magic.”

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“I get into my home lift, sit on the chair with my washing basket by my feet and away I go.”

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