Making Life Easier: Help with Steps and Stairs
- Climbing stairs inside your home
- Hand rails
- Grab rails and half steps
- Further help and advice
- Where to buy and hire equipment
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This page is aimed at anyone who is having difficulties at home because of mobility problems. In particular, it looks at how you can overcome problems with steps and stairs.
Steps and stairs can be difficult if you have mobility problems. Safety must be your first consideration but there are things you can do.
Listed below are some useful tips on how you can make going up and down stairs easier.
- Make sure all your steps are well lit.
- Keep carpets on stairs fixed down firmly and check regularly for worn patches.
- Never leave anything on the stairs which you might trip over.
- Take one step at a time and don't rush.
- Make use of the handrail. It will improve your balance.
- If one leg is better than the other, lead with the good leg first when you are climbing upstairs. When you are coming downstairs, put the bad leg down first.
- It is not advisable for someone to walk up the stairs behind you as you may overbalance onto them.
- If you have a few steps or a flight of stairs, a rail from the wall to the floor on one or both sides can help.
- If you have a number of steps along a path to the entrance a hand rail on one or both sides can be useful.
- Be careful to ensure that rails or steps do not affect public rights of way.
- If you already have a banister on your stairs, you may find that putting another hand rail on the opposite side will help. Ideally the handrails should extend beyond the staircase at the top and bottom. This will give you extra support as you step off the top or bottom step. Alternatively you could fit a grab rail.
Suppliers of rails can be found at your local hardware stores. Alternatively try contacting one of the Useful Organisations listed below.
- If you have one or two steps at your front door you may find that putting a grab rail on both sides of the front door will help you to gain balance and give you support.
- A high door step can be made easier by adding a half step.
- A stairlift may be a solution if you are unable to climb the stairs even with the addition of an extra stair rail.
- Stairlifts can be made to fit almost any flight of stairs. It is important to measure both the stairs and the person who would be using the stairlift to make sure it is suitable and safe to use. There are lots of companies which make stairlifts so it is always worth shopping around. The Mobility Aids Guide provides information on a wide range of products that could help you to live independently in your own home.
Further information on points to consider when buying a stairlift is available from:
These websites that offers helpful advice on buying a stairlift and provide answers to the most frequently asked questions.
Housing Services has provided an Agency Service (a one-stop shop) for the Adaptations process for over 15 years. The service is primarily to help applicants eligible for Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) complete the forms, obtain drawings and specifications, apply for planning and building control permission (if required), to obtain competitive prices, supervise the works, make payments and to deal with any issues that may arise out of the works. A fee is charged for this service which is added to the grant approval.
If you are not eligible for a DFG, do not qualify for a DFG, or wish to carry out adaptations to your home independently we can still provide free help and advice on what you might need to do and the types of products on the market. Our experience in this field of work is extensive. Housing Services is not paid any fee from any supplier or manufacturer for providing advice to you; our advice is free.
If you should decide to carry out an independent adaptation we are able to provide the full Agency Service to the general public for adaptations to residential properties for a fee, however this is subject to our workload issues relating to the DFG process. Each enquiry will be considered carefully and if we cannot take on the work you will still benefit from our experienced advice. We must point out that there are other providers in the market who can provide a similar agency style service.
If you are interested in the advice aspect of our service or the full Agency Service, please contact us on 0161 342 2259
- If you are going out in a wheelchair pushed by a carer and there is a step at the front door, it may be easier for you to climb down the first step then get into the wheelchair once outside the house.
- If you are going out in your wheelchair alone or can't manage the step even with the help of a carer, you may be able to replace your step with a ramp. If a ramp is regularly used by someone on foot, a hand rail can be useful.
- It is important that the gradient (the slope) of the ramp is not more than 1 in 12. If you use a wheelchair you will also need to make sure the ramp has raised edges to stop your wheelchair from tipping over the side.
- Most builders will be able to fit a ramp for you. The cost of putting in a ramp will vary depending on the size you need.
If you need any further information or advice on the alterations outlined on this page, or you have particular difficulties because of disability you can contact Adult Customer Care Team.
Information is also available at the Disabled Living Centre in Manchester. There is a permanent display of equipment for you to try. The service offers impartial advice about items that can help you keep your independence. The centre is open Monday to Friday from 9.00am to 4.30pm.
Direct Equipment Helpline
(9am to 4pm - Monday to Friday) 0161 214 5959
Age Concern Tameside provides a wide range of services for older people, including a wheelchair hire service. Their First Call Scheme can assist with minor repairs and security measures, together with the fitting of hand rails and grab rails.
Please note that we cannot recommend particular companies. Inclusion on this page does not constitute a recommendation.
This list is not exhaustive. The Disabled Living Centre in Manchester have details of manufacturers and suppliers of equipment on a national scale.
The British Red Cross can lend items of medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, bed rests and commodes, to people on a short-term basis.
Manchester South and Central Branch
Bradbury House, 10 Brindley Road, City Park, Cornbrook, Manchester, M16 9HQ
0161 888 8900 0161 888 8901
Manchester North East Branch
Amalfi House, 285 Featherstall Road North, Oldham, OL1 2NH
0161 888 4893
71 Lees Road, Oldham OL4 1JW
(9am to 4.30pm - Mon to Fri) (9am to 1pm - Sat) 0161 652 2071
A wide range of daily living and nursing equipment is available for purchase including mobility equipment, high seat chairs, continence products, wide fitting footwear and nebulisers. In addition, some items are available for hire such as wheelchairs and commodes.
The Courtyard, Wellington Road North, Stockport SK4 1HT
(9.30am to 4.30pm - Mon to Fri) (9.30am to 1.30pm - Sat) 0161 429 6000
Mobility Suppliers have a wide range of equipment to buy. They also hire out wheelchairs, hoists and beds and have a repair service for certain wheelchairs, scooters and hoists.
Bentinck Street, Ashton under Lyne
(9am to 5pm - Mon to Fri) 0161 330 1446
Tameside Healthcare has a range of equipment to buy and also has some equipment available for hire. They also do repairs to equipment including bath lifts and wheelchairs.
Wheelchair Centre and Invalid Aids
229 Droylsden Road, Audenshaw M34 5ZT
(9am to 6pm - Mon, Tues, Thurs and Fri) (9am to 1pm - Sat) 0161 370 2661/5949
The Wheelchair Centre has a range of walking aids and other equipment as well as manual and electric wheelchairs. Some equipment is available for hire.