The first Remap job ever was for a ramp, for Pat Johnson’s sister. Since then the statutory provision of basic aids has improved considerably but Remap still makes ramps and other simple devices for our clients as well as more complex aids. However, sometimes we are asked to produce aids when there are readily available and not costly commercial devices which could do the job.
The provision in our old constitution which stated we could only make devices when there was no commercial equivalent available was removed when we became an incorporated association. Whether or not to accept a task is a decision best made at local, not national, level and Panels are free to accept or decline requests as they see fit. One valid reason for declining a task would be that a commercial device is already on the market and that producing an equivalent would not be an effective use of out volunteers skill or valuable time. This applies particularly to some request for ramps and furniture raisers. The converse, that a valid reason for making a device is simply that one of our volunteers wants to do it is of course equally true.
Furniture and Bed Raisers
Requests for furniture (chair/settee/table) raisers and bed raisers are made regularly. While the jobs are necessary for the comfort of the client for many volunteers they are sometimes not particularly interesting to make and too many such tasks can cause volunteers to become demotivated and leave Remap. To maintain a sensible balance between the needs of clients and the need to conserve volunteers Panels should be aware of the commercially available products so they can point referrers to more appropriate solutions if they so wish.
The two major manufacturers of furniture raisers are are Langham and Morris & Alexander (M&A) but there are also a number of smaller companies. The Langham (and similar Medeci Raisers) tend to be the sort which slide over a chair leg or the chair leg sits in a cup type receptacle with a series of spacers or a screw mechanism inside to get it to the required height.
These are usually very simple to install. The major disadvantages of this type of raiser is that they are visually very obtrusive (often revoltingly ugly!) they only fit a limited range of chair legs and they do not suit electric recliner chairs. Sometimes chairs fitted with them have to be positioned with their back against a wall to add stability. They do fit spindle leg chairs.
The Morris & Alexander approach is somewhat different. They use an adjustable steel frame which screws (or attaches using a variety of adapters), onto the bed or chair structure.
This gives a very rigid and stable support which is visually less intrusive than the “plant pot” raisers. It also means they are suitable for a wide range of furniture base types and dimensions and also electric recliner chairs.
Should Remap be Making Chair and Bed Raisers?
In most cases before accepting a chair/bed raiser task the referrer, if an OT, local authority or other organisation (as opposed to an individual), should be asked why a commercial device is not being used instead of Remap. If the reply is that we are cheaper the task should be declined and the referrer told to use a commercial supplier. (However, if a volunteer wants to take the job on because they like that sort of task then of course they should.)
If the reason for Remap being asked is that no ready made device will do (but bear in mind that Morris and Alexander raisers fit far more furniture types than the slightly cheaper and more commonly stocked Langham types so referrers should be specifically asked why they have not considered M&A) then we should accept the task.
If the referrer is having problems with getting M&A raisers they can be asked if they will reimburse the panel with the cost of purchasing the appropriate M&A fittings and if (and only if) the referrer agrees the panel should obtain the most appropriate M&A raiser and fit it. The referrer, if a company or organisation, can be billed for the direct cost of the purchase and volunteer travel expenses but no other cost. If it is an individual no billing must take place.
If the client is distressed by the appearance of either type of chair raiser we should consider making something which would be more acceptable or camouflaging the fitting. Many clients would like to minimise the intrusion of “medical” devices into their homes and this is perfectly reasonable and understandable.
The above is inevitably very general guidance. Each case should be considered individually and the aim must always be to best meet the needs of the client, not the budget or policy of the local authority.
The need to provide “reasonable access” for wheelchair users to commercial premises has led to the manufacture of a large number of folding aluminium glass fibre and other portable or semi-portable ramps. As with chair raisers the manufacture of ramps isn’t always challenging and should not be done just because we are cheaper. Whether advising a referrer to look elsewhere or using a commercial/industrial ramp in a Remap solution the aim as always must be to meet the needs of the client.
Unlike raisers there are hundreds of manufacturers of ramps both for industrial and disability use. OT’s tend to be unaware of industrial suppliers even though they may offer better value for money or more flexible solutions. A Google search for “industrial ramps” and separately for “Wheelchair ramps” will give you more than enough suppliers. The links below are to a few.
It is common for Remap to be asked to build a ramp where the recommended slope of 1:12 (5° slope, 8% grade, 1 foot of ramp for each inch of rise) cannot be achieved. Invariably this is because the statutory services (not entirely unreasonably) treat 1:12 (the minimum required for installed ramps by Part M of the Building Regulations) as an absolute limit to be used and assume public access rather than making an assessment of an individuals capability. We start with the client and try to produce a solution which they can manage. As a starting position a short slope of 1:6 (10°) can be managed by most power chairs or a reasonably fit assistant pushing a manual chair. A slope of 1:8 (8°) will be usable by most people.