How to answer “Can you do an extended stay with us?”

One of the few silver linings of having ALS is that you are often asked by friends and family if you can come for a stay so they can spoil you rotten. We highly recommend saying yes to this question, because you will indeed get spoiled rotten.

However, the answer to “Can you come stay with us?” isn’t a simple yes-or-no if you’re in a powerchair and have to be “hoyered” to bed and bath. We recently had to capture these requirements so we could stay with a friend, so we wanted to share them in case they can help other PALS (person with ALS). We hope that PALS, as we do, can fire off this list to friends or family and be that much closer to getting spoiled. Note that our powerchair is a Permobil and our hoyer is a Molift 150, but we suspect the measurements will work for nearly all powerchairs and wheelchairs and most hoyers (but as always, best to check it out for yourself!)

Powerchair and hoyer lift requirements (assuming you have a portable ramp)

  • First, measure the bed and “bathroom area,” because if those don’t work, there’s no need to measure the rest.
    • Bed—Measure the clearance under the bed the PALS will sleep on (for the hoyer lift). The height between the floor and the bottom of the bed must be 4.8” or greater.
    • Bed—Under the bed must be clear to 35” of the side of the bed that has the most floor space (for hoyer lift maneuvering). The hoyer’s two 35” “feet” must both be able to roll all the way under the bed.
    • Bedroom—You need enough room to be able to “park” the powerchair and roll the hoyer lift around it so that the hoyer’s two long feet surround the powerchair. Then you need to be able to back the hoyer lift away from the powerchair (with the PALS in it) and turn its long feet under the bed (to lower PALS into the bed).
    • Bathroom (or a place to park the shower chair)—You need quite a bit of space when the PALS needs to use the bathroom. We need a place for the shower chair to sit (preferably in a bathroom or on a non-carpeted floor but not required). The shower chair must have a decent amount of clearance around it so the hoyer lift can roll around it so the hoyer’s two feet can surround the showerchair.
    • Basically you need room to maneuver three rather large pieces of equipment.
  • Showers—If there’s no roll-in shower with enough clearance to fit an entire shower chair, you’ll need to find a nearby hotel with this if you’re staying longer than the PALS wants to sponge-bath-only showers.
  • Measure any doorways needed to get into the house/cabin, to get into an accessible bedroom, to get into a bathroom area, and to get into the gathering area (where people will hang out)or of any tight turns along the path. You need a 30” wide clearance.
  • Stairs–You’ll need the measurements of any stairs needed to get into the areas listed above (house, bedroom, etc.) as follows:
    • The height of the steps from the bottom of the bottom-most step to the top of the topmost step.
    • The horizontal measurement of the stairs, from the bottom of the first step to the top of the last step.
    • (Basically you need the ratio of full stair height to full stair width for each staircase or set of steps.)
  • Stair landings—For the most part, they won’t work, but if they’re really big, they could work. You’ll need measurements to make sure there’s enough room to move the ramp past the PALS (unless you have two ramps) and enough room for the PALS to get off the ramp so it can be placed again (unless you have two ramps).
  • Stair wall clearance–Walls around the stairs must be 30” apart the whole way (powerchair is 30” wide).
  • If all of the above measurements look good, measure any tight “turns” in the pathway (halls, doorways) to get to any of the areas listed above (house, bedroom, etc.)

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