Stigma – How Can I Hide My Need For Help Getting Upstairs To Bed?
I want to talk to you personally because I have found in my practice over the years of treating many people as a GP and while working for the Castle Comfort Group that it can be a little frightening or embarrassing sometimes, to admit that we might need such help on the stairs.
Fortunately for many of my newer customers the stigma of getting a mobility product, especially a lift for their stairs- seems to be disappearing – and there’s a number of reasons why that’s more the case nowadays, but for now it reminds me of something I have witnessed many times before in my career as a doctor. I’ll explain.
You see some 20 years ago, when someone was diagnosed with a cancer – it was the norm for folk to often not to want to talk about the subject.
The assumption, and in many cases a correct one, was that the person was going to die and so it was considered respectful to perhaps only whisper about the situation.
It was the norm to refer to the ‘Big C’ – avoiding the word cancer, as it’s use was akin to a swear word.
During the early years of the existence of these lifts for the stairs … much of the following was true.
- They were cumbersome, ugly and obtrusive.
- It was extremely expensive, causing disruption to the home by the use of wall fixing support brackets.
- It was noisy, to the point of annoying owners of any adjoining property.
- There was little choice, with only one UK manufacturer and the maintenance costs were very high.
Worse still, a lift meant the person was in the twilight of their life, very old or severely disabled and in a pretty hopeless situation. That’s what a lot of people thought.
Now, we won’t go over whether any of that was true all those years ago (these inventions began in the 1970’s in the UK).. but even if only part of it was relevant.. there is enough there for people to refer to a “Big S’ – no, not an incurable disease, but a stair lift. However the S is more about a Stigma than anything else.
Cars are very different now compared to those available in the 1970’s and many other things have changed, though perhaps not as quickly as we would like.
They are now being installed as an insurance policy by folk planning a long future, and as a stronger guarantee that they can stay in their homes forever – avoiding relocating to a rare expensive bungalow or even considering a care home situation costing thousands of pounds a month.
These days, with a host of manufacturers offering a variety of products, there is indeed a different view. I don’t need to discuss the details of the technology here, but because of it, the modern lift is blessed with a circuit board, digital diagnostic display, a slimline designed appearance and a virtually silent power source, all of which combine to make it a welcome addition to many homes.
Frequently they are installed to carry the washing or other domestic cargo upstairs – or the breakfast!
Also it is common to hear of folk giving nicknames to their acquired ‘vehicle’ as they might their motor car – for example Daisy, Stanley, Concorde, Skyfall or Miniroller are just a few I have heard from delighted customers.
A lady from Somerset emailed me recently to proudly announce that her grandson had named her curved model the ”Woodenhills Wonder.”
Although it is rare in our language to refer to a noun with a gender I have been pleasantly surprised to hear of one being referred to as ‘him’ or ‘her.’
During my years as a member of the Castle Comfort team, I have noticed another welcome situation whereby grandparents may receive additional visits from their younger family members (and not just the grand kids) because a ride on their new stairs vehicle may be granted!
All this helps with a changing attitude towards getting a mobility product, and I am very pleased to see that any stigma is indeed disappearing.
I believe wholeheartedly that one of these devices is a symbol of a safe and happy future, and a thing to acquire for sensible and practical reasons – not as a desperate measure.
To conclude, you have found this page by using the marvels of technology – a computer or a smartphone. Some of the same electronic technology is used now to make available to you, or your family, a piece of advanced equipment. It is not for the weak or feeble. It is for the strongest and most optimistic.
The ‘stigma’ has gone.
Do please call me on 0800 298 3040 or email me via the contact form and I will be pleased to answer any questions that you have.
Dr. Neil Stirling MB ChB
PS. If you have a need for a lift for your stairs and are worried about what it might mean, and you want to talk it through with myself or one of the team then please get in touch. We’d really like to help you.