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Stairlift delay causes frustration for housebound woman

21st August 2013

A couple from Essex are waiting for their local council to add a stairlift to their home and have taken their story to local journalists to highlight their urgent need for a stairlift. Tony Smeeton and his partner Debra Foster spoke to the Clacton Gazette, who published their story in an article that can be read here.

Debra Foster, who is recovering from life-saving pancreas and kidney transplants, currently needs to use a wheelchair to get around, and as their front door is on the first floor of their council-funded home and only accessible via steps, Debra is essentially housebound. Although the transplant has meant that Debra's overall health is improving, she will need to use a wheelchair for some time to come. She has already benefited from the installation of an easy access bath and the doorways of their home have been widened.

Tony, Debra's partner, has consistently been chasing up Essex County Council and Tendring Council over the stairlift and he has now decided to take their story to the local paper in hopes of generating a speedier response. It has been 20 months since Debra had the transplant, and not being able to take Debra outside "is starting to take its toll", according to Tony.

Tendring Council has already put over £20,000 of funding towards the adaptation of Debra's home to suit her needs, including the installation of her wheelchair-friendly bathroom and larger doorways. These two things arguably needed to be completed more urgently than the stairlift to ensure Debra's continual wellbeing, but the stairlift is still an essential part of allowing Debra to live independently and enjoy life to the full.

According to Tendring Council, they are just waiting for a stairlift company to confirm a date for work to begin, after which Debra will be able to leave the house once again. The cost of all these alterations has been quite significant for Tendring Council and it has also taken a long time to get them in place; it could have been quicker for Debra to get the stairlift she needs if she and Tony had funded and organised it themselves.

Although stairlifts can be a financial burden, some companies, including Handicare, find ways to help. Reconditioned stairlifts meet the same high standards and safety features as brand new ones, but they cost less as they have been previously owned and have been fully factory refurbished instead of being built from scratch. The quality of the product is still high, allowing those who need stairlifts to pay just a fraction of the price of a brand new item.

Image Credit: Rick McCharles (


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This news article is from Handicare UK. Articles that appear on this website are for information purposes only and are up to date as of the time of publishing