Modern technology is helping seniors stay home longer, and business is booming.
Though the costs to install ceiling lifts, stair lifts, mobile lifts and other mobility assisting technologies in the home place are significant, there are plenty of arguments for it. For one, it’s often less than the cost of full time assisted living in a care home, says Corinne Kerr of Esquimalt’s Angel Accessibility Solutions.
“There’s a lot of research supporting the benefits of staying at home longer, and that’s what we offer. You retain your home and the proximity to friends. It’s easier on the family, promotes long term health and is easier on the health care system,” Kerr said.
George Szwender started Angel by selling lifts out of his home in 1997, and today Angel Solutions is based out of a 12,000 square-foot showroom and warehouse along the industrially zoned Viewfield Road. The store has 24 employees, including technicians who install the lifts in customer homes. Angel has also opened up stores in Courtenay, Vancouver, Kelowna and Portland, Ore. Last week, Angel was purchased by Prism Medical, a publicly traded (TSX Venture) ceiling-lift manufacturer for $3.6 million, as it moves into the retail side of the industry.
“Everything will stay the same,” said Angel Solutions chief operating officer Chris Swift. “We’re proud of our commitment to service. We’ll continue to have service technicians available 24-7 for maintenance.”
Angel Solutions isn’t without it’s competitors, as other brands of stair and ceiling lifts are available.
On Jan. 16 Richmond-based HME Mobility and Accessibility opened a store on Government Street.
“We’ve been selling and installing systems on the Island for years so now we’re here,” said HME’s Victoria manager Jessica Park.
While HME’s Victoria store is small in comparison to Angel, it’s arrival shows the trend for electronic home mobility options is only growing. HME regularly sells and installs three stair lifts per day. Just as Angel has a diverse catalogue of home care solutions, such as easy access bath tubs, HME carries lift and recline chairs, hospital beds, walkers, wheelchairs, bathroom safety items, and installs a lot of grab bars, as well as equipment rental.
On a straight staircase, stair lifts can be installed within a day of purchase. Curved stair lifts must be custom-ordered, and take three weeks to a month to arrive.