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Rails, ramps and stair lifts

Rails Ramps and Stair Lifts Panel

Keeping your independence and living safely in your own home for as long as possible is a natural desire for many people, particularly as we age. However, everyday tasks can become more challenging due to mobility limitations. Mobility aids like grab rails, ramps, and stairlifts can make a significant difference.

Common scenarios and concerns

Lifestyle and equipment options to help you

Limited mobility when transferring: Difficulty getting in and out of the shower or bathtub can pose a challenge.

This can lead to reduced independence and potential falls.

Grab bars: Install grab bars in strategic locations for support and stability during transfers.

Uneven surfaces: Doorways with thresholds or uneven flooring can present tripping hazards.

This can lead to falls and potential injuries.

Ramps: Utilise ramps to create smooth transitions between uneven surfaces.

Difficulty navigating stairs: Stairs can become a safety hazard, especially with reduced mobility or balance issues.

This can lead to increased fall risk, decreased independence, and limited access to different floors.

Stairlifts: Install a stairlift for safe and effortless travel between floors.


Maintaining independence

Some everyday situations can become more difficult with reduced mobility.

  • Navigating stairs: Climbing stairs can become a safety concern, especially if you have balance issues or weak legs.
  • Getting in and out of the shower or bath: The risk of slips and falls is higher in bathrooms due to wet surfaces.
  • Standing for long periods: Simple tasks like cooking or washing dishes can be tiring if standing for extended periods is difficult.
  • Reaching for objects: Reaching for items on high shelves or bending down to pick things up can become a struggle.

How mobility aids can help

There are a variety of mobility aids that can address these challenges and empower you to continue living independently at home:

  • Grab rails: These strategically placed bars provide much-needed support when moving around the house. They are commonly installed in bathrooms, hallways, and near stairs.
  • Ramps: Ramps provide a safe and gradual incline, eliminating the need to navigate steps. They can be used for entrances, doorways, or overcoming small height differences.
  • Stairlifts: Stairlifts are motorised chairs that securely transport you up and down your stairs. They are ideal for those who find stairs challenging but still wish to access different floors in their home.

Types of mobility aids

Grab rails

Grab rails come in various shapes, sizes, and materials to suit different needs and locations. 

  • Straight grab rails: These are the most basic type, offering a single bar for support. They are ideal for next to toilets, showers, or beside beds.
  • Angled grab rails: These rails offer support at an angle, making it easier to get up from a seated position, such as next to a toilet.
  • Grab bars: These wider bars provide a more substantial grip and can be helpful for people with limited hand strength.
  • Material: Grab rails are typically made from metal or high-quality plastic. Metal offers superior strength, while plastic may be more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Mounting: Grab rails need to be securely mounted to the wall to ensure stability. Consider the wall's material (plasterboard may require additional support) and consult a professional for installation if needed.


Ramps come in various configurations to suit different needs and environments.

  • Portable ramps: These lightweight ramps are ideal for overcoming small obstacles like thresholds or steps. They are foldable for easy storage and transportation.
  • Modular ramps: These ramps are made from interlocking sections, allowing for customisation to fit specific lengths and inclines. They offer a more permanent solution for uneven terrain or multiple steps.
  • Permanent ramps: These ramps are constructed from concrete or metal and are a fixed solution for regular level changes. They require professional installation, and planning permission may be needed.
  • Gradient: The incline of the ramp is crucial. Steeper ramps are more challenging to navigate, particularly for wheelchairs. In the UK, building regulations recommend a maximum gradient of 1:12 for wheelchair ramps.
  • Length: The length of the ramp is determined by the height difference it needs to overcome. A longer ramp with a gentler incline is generally safer and easier to use.
  • Surface: The ramp surface should be slip-resistant, especially for outdoor use. Consider materials with textured surfaces or drainage features to prevent water accumulation.


Stairlifts are a significant investment, so careful consideration is necessary.

  • Types of stairlifts: Stairlifts come in two main varieties: straight stairlifts for straight staircases and curved stairlifts for those with bends or turns.
  • Features: Consider features like powered swivel seats, folding footrests, and safety sensors to ensure a comfortable and safe experience.
  • Weight capacity: Stairlifts have a weight capacity limit, so ensure it meets your needs.
  • Installation: Stairlift installation requires a professional. Discuss space requirements, power source options, and any modifications needed to your staircase.

Where to buy equipment to help move around easier

Plymouth City Council, NHS Devon, and Livewell Southwest have jointly commissioned NRS Healthcare to deliver the Safe+Well service, and they have over 2,500 daily living aids that you can purchase by mail order, telephone, or online.

View the Plymouth Safe+Well website

NRS has a dedicated phone line with a trained team of specialists who can answer any questions you might have. Just call 0345 6461860.

Other places to buy equipment from:

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  • Free assessment tool: Select the area of difficulty that is relevant to you. You will then be asked a few questions to guide you towards helpful daily living aids. 
  • Free telephone advice line: Complete the online form, and we will contact you to arrange a convenient time to call.



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