‘I wanted to attend my son’s wedding – but I couldn’t because there was no hoist in any of the hotel rooms nearby’ – said someone who contacted me a number of years ago.
How sad, I thought, that the lack of an overhead-tracking hoist meant that it might be impossible for them to attend a family celebration such as this.
Unfortunately this particular family was not alone in this, and there are many similar situations where hotels cannot provide for someone with higher support requirements.
This lack of provision could affect anyone wishing to attend events such as conferences, if the right facilities are not present. Not wishing to over-egg this, but where these facilities are required by an event organiser, an entire conference (worth tens of thousands of pounds) may be taken elsewhere to satisfy this requirement.
For the uninitiated, an overhead tracking-hoist provides a hoist facility between the bed and the bath or shower-room in hotels. This enables personal assistants or family members to hoist and transfer someone between the two areas as safely and as comfortably as possible. Usually they would bring their own slings as these are mostly designed around the needs of specific individuals
As far as legislation goes, British Standard BS8300:2009 includes the recommendation for hoists at accommodation – particularly hotels. However it seems from my personal observations, that developers of accessible accommodation have largely ignored this.
There have been quite a number of people who have campaigned down the years for this facility to be introduced at accommodation, including the late Sue Maynard Campbell MBE whom I met.
Sue had used a hoist for much of her life and understood the frustration and lack of convenience of not having anywhere she could stay, without a great deal of hassle and additional expense. Her aim was to have ceiling hoist facilities provided in as many accommodation premises as possible.
She convinced me that yes, there was a need for these facilities – and a mobile hoist just didn’t cut it for her. This was not only from the point-of-view of safety, but also having sufficient space to operate in what can often be cramped areas in both bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms.
Thanks to the awareness-raising work of Sue, there are some notable exceptions out there, and these properties are listed on the Ceiling Hoist users Club (CHuC) website: www.chuc.org.uk. Not only does this website give the locations of accommodation, but it also offers information to the tourism industry on suppliers of suitable equipment.
A recently installed hoist at the Astoria 7 hotel at San Sebastian in Spain features in this video: https://youtu.be/A3lzE8HMykI. This short film demonstrates how this can help anyone who needs this facility.
The Inclusive Hotels Network working group (which includes architects, access specialist companies, VisitEngland and other interested parties) is currently working on an advisory document about the installation of overhead tracking-hoists in hotels. The guidance will soon be available to download from cae.org.uk. This guidance will help to answer questions from hoteliers and designers when it comes to fitting them.
Brian Seaman is an Associate at Access New Business. They provide advice and guidance to the tourism industry about creating and improving accessible tourism: www.accessnewbusiness.co.uk.