Month: February 2016

The Importance of Refurbishing and Reusing Used Stairlifts

download (50)One of the most useful inventions for the modern home is the stairlift, which helps thousands of individuals around the world today get around their properties, even if they are suffering from an injury or have permanently reduced mobility. These items are available in various models and shapes, each one catering to different needs and preferences.

Furthermore, there is now the choice between buying a brand new device, investing in a second hand one, or even simply taking advantage of stairlift rental, which is possibly the most cost effective option out of the three on a short term basis. With that said, many people like to own their own stairlift, especially if they intend to get years of use from it.

Both brand new lifts and used ones are popular in their own ways, and for often very different reasons. Brand new items often feature the latest functions and designs, and are less worn than second hand models. Used lifts, on the other hand, can be far more economical and are ideal for the individual on a tighter budget.

Yet the importance of used stairlifts does not end there, and it is important that anyone who is thinking about buying equipment or getting rid of their old equipment bears a few important points in mind. The first one is that used stairlifts, bought by stairlift companies, are actually fulfilling a very important need in society.

As mentioned above, second hand items are often much cheaper than their brand new alternatives. They are often bought and refurbished by stairlift companies, who then go on to sell them at a fraction of the price of new models. This means that a more affordable option is available on the market, and this is very important.

Many people suffer from reduced mobility during their lives, and having an affordable way to overcome this challenge is very important and can truly transform someone’s life for the better. This is especially true as some brand new stairlifts can be a heavy investment, especially in the case of curved stairlifts.

With both curved and straight used stairlifts bought and resold by companies, an option that is easier on the bank account is welcomed by many. Furthermore, although often grants for this kind of equipment are available, not everyone will find themselves entitled, or their grant may be lower than the price of a new lift.

Another reason why it is important to recycle and reuse these items is that it also leads to far less waste and unwanted items going into landfill sites. As many unwanted items are actually still fully functional, it makes more financial sense to refurbish and reuse the items than simply throw them away – and this is good for the environment too.

In our country it has become very easy to buy whatever we want and simply throw it out once we are done with it. The reality is, however, that we could all be more responsible shoppers, and used stairlifts bought from a company instead of brand new ones is one way of making a little bit of a difference.

With that said, many people are dubious about buying second hand equipment, as they understandably fear that it may not be of good enough quality and can suffer from more frequent breakdowns.

Whilst this could potentially be true, most used devices are refurbished to only the highest standards, and therefore are about as likely to fail as brand new items of equipment. Furthermore, many suppliers and retailers offer extensive warranties and break down cover to make sure that you are protected in the case of an electronic or mechanical failure.

The presence of used stairlifts on the market is important for several reasons, namely offering a great lower-cost alternative to the general public and helping save the environment. These are two very good points that should make you consider choosing a refurbished device rather than a new one when you invest in a stairlift for your home.

The Challenges of Special Needs Housing Finding the Money

download (49)In the last post, we mentioned the ‘aging out’ problem — wherein, at 21 years of age, the Federal funding that supported a child with special needs suddenly stops cold. That’s not the only money problem that crops up around a young adult with special needs (YASN). There’s also the problem of trying to pay for their first opportunity to live away from their parents. There are three broad categories of funding sources, and we’ll take a look at each in detail.

Self-Funding: The Default

If no other funding can be found, the family of a YASN will have to choose between keeping their now-adult with special needs at home, or finding the funds within their own lives. That might seem impossible for some, but there are many potential places to look, including:

• Donations,
• Income,
• Grants,
• Foundations,
• Banks,
• Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI),
• Credit unions,
• Private insurance,
• Special Needs Trusts,
• Individual Development Accounts (IDAs),
• Pooled trusts, and
• Tax Credits, among others.

There also exists a commonplace ‘hybrid’ funding technique in many places: cooperative funding. When several families pool their resources, it becomes much easier to purchase a collectively-owned home and allow one or more YASNs from each family to move in and live independently but with support from one another and from their respective families. If someone among the participating families has business experience or nonprofit experience, the cooperative funding model can take on a legitimate aspect, forming a legal co-op and/or trust to care for the YASNs moving forward.

Community Funding: Rare, But Powerful

Some communities — not necessarily geographical communities, with the advent of the Internet — have surprisingly powerful and well-funded groups that can help you obtain funding that a family couldn’t hope to obtain on their own. Such groups can often negotiate with companies or address aspects of the government that individuals can’t, and thus obtain funding for YASNs that would otherwise have to remain at home.

Government Funding: The HUD’s Labyrinth

There’s not a lot that can be said about the myriad of programs put forth by the Department of Housing and Urban Development except that you need either an experienced social worker or a dedicated expert to navigate the maze and actually end up with a meaningful amount of money at the far end.

Paying For Ongoing Expenses: Just Like Everyone Else

Of course, all of those previous entries are just to address the costs of getting into a situation where a situation where a YASN can live out of their parents’ home. None of them offer any help for those who have already ‘launched’ — those lucky ones will have to SSI payments, the programs available at, and the programs available at to help them make ends meet. Of note, SNAP and LIHEAP are both very commonplace programs for YASNs to take advantage of, and they’re fairly easy to qualify for and use.

The Challenges of Special Needs Housing Waiting List Hell

download (48)Rather than talk about broad strokes and generics, we’re doing something different here. We’re drilling down to a personal level, to convey one of the greatest challenges of finding first-time housing for a young adult with special needs. We’re going to talk about what is happening in one of the states on the East Coast: Connecticut.

In Connecticut right now, there are more than two thousand adults with intellectual disabilities. Most of them live with their families, despite desperately wanting to be independent and live their own lives. Some have been waiting for so long that they are in legitimate danger of losing their primary caretakers — their parents — to old age.

The state laws of Connecticut promise to find housing for these people based on which of three priorities their situation qualifies them for — housing within a year for the top priority, and within five years for the bottom rank. But there’s a problem: the waiting list is broken. The priority system doesn’t work. No one gets housing, and they all just keep waiting.

The first problem is that state law prevents any intellectually disabled person from being placed in one of the state’s group homes unless they are abused, abandoned, or their primary caretakers pass away. There are literally families in Connecticut where the primary caretakers are decades past retirement, and the special-needs children they care for are approaching retirement age themselves.

The second problem is that there is simply no funding for the programs that are supposed to process the waiting list. The state has a billion-dollar budget for the Department of Developmental Disabilities, and the bulk of it goes to support the 961 people that are currently occupying all of the spots in state-run housing for adults with special needs, leaving the other 1,110+ just… waiting. One family has spent more than 23 years in the “one-year wait” Priority One group, and haven’t even heard from their caseworker in more than two decades. Their daughter is now 42, and her parents are near 70.

The third problem is the ‘aging out’ process — the moment a person with special needs turns 21, all Federal money that supported their education and therapy simply ends. At 20, they have a speech therapist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, several teachers, counselors, and more… and at 21, they have their parents. That places an unimaginable burden on the parents, but it also means that the waiting list is growing every day… and shrinking never.

Fortunately, Connecticut is only one state. Unfortunately, it’s not always better somewhere else. Across the entire nation, counting the entire population of people with special needs, fully 53% of all of them still live at home, with their parents. Another 31% live in supported, supervised, or assisted homes, 11% live independently, 3.5% live in foster situations, and 1.5% live in state-run institutions. No matter where you live, unfortunately, if you’re an adult with special needs, living with your parents is the norm.


Alternative Housing for Young Adults With Special Needs

download (47)There are a few unusual but mention-worthy alternative housing concepts for young adults with special needs (YASNs). These don’t fall into the traditional categories, but we would be remiss to let them go without bringing them up.

The ‘Group Co-op’

An unusual option, but worth mentioning — in dozens of communities across the country, several families have united their funds to create a group home that isn’t a formal care agency, but a co-op. That is to say, they purchase, own, and maintain a home for a large group of YASNs, and they offer family support to the degree that they are able. Oftentimes, the co-op will hire caretakers, or occasionally will contract with an agency to provide caretakers.

The downside of a co-op is straightforward: once the families that have come together to form the co-op no longer have any children living in the home (which, depending on the specific special needs, may be anywhere from a couple of years to ‘the rest of their lives’), the co-op tends to disintegrate. Also, as family priorities change over decades, even co-ops with lifetime members can find themselves suddenly looking at dramatic shifts in funding and organization.

Foster Home Living / ‘Companion Care’

In a Foster Home situation, a YASN doesn’t so much leave home to live independently as they leave home to join another home. There are a number of reasons that this can be an extremely beneficial situation. It’s beneficial to the family the YASN is leaving, because it relieves them of the need to be the primary caretaker. It’s beneficial to the family accepting the YASN, because they were seeking someone to join their family, knowing what they were getting into. And it’s beneficial to the YASN, because moving into an entirely new home provides just as much horizon-expanding opportunities as moving into a group home, but with a dedicated ‘new family’ that they can learn, love, and rely upon.

For those YASNs that require constant care and love but still desire to make a break from their parents and first home, a foster home is a strong option — but there are drawbacks, just like there are in any foster situation. The potential of getting placed with a family that is not prepared for you (not your needs, those will be matched, but just you, the personality) is real, and some families rapidly discover that they’re not as cut out for fostering as they believed.

Supported/Assisted Farmstead Communities

More common a few decades ago but just starting to come back into vogue, a Farmstead community is just what it sounds like — a farm, ranch, or similar rural organization that takes in YASNs and provides them with a level of support appropriate to their needs. Often a Farmstead community is low- or no-cost to the family, accepting that the YASN will work for their room and board. For many, that alone is enough of a drawback that they wouldn’t seriously consider this option.

Developmental Centers

More common a few decades ago and almost unheard of today, there are still a few states that run large Developmental Centers for people with special needs, YASNs included. Somewhat akin to a college, a Developmental Center is a large institution that provides education, medical care, and other support in the attempt to ‘develop’ an individual with special needs to the point that they are capable of living independently. Developmental Centers are widely regarded as archaic, as the nationwide focus is strongly on community-oriented care nowadays.