BLOG: Making room for disabled people. And why it really matters.

An estimated 250,000 people in the UK require assistance to get in/out of bed and to access a toilet/shower. But how many hotels provide a room with a hoist to cater for that need? Graham Garnett, Liverpool City Council’s Inclusive Design Officer, knows the schocking answer and thanks to a phone call, began a quest to start changing it…

Back in 2021 we received an enquiry from a father whose son was a student studying at the University of Liverpool.  He was seeking assistance in finding a hotel in the city so that he and his wife could visit their son for a weekend and visit some of the city’s tourist attractions. He informed us that since their son had been studying here they’d been unable to find anywhere suitable to stay overnight. 

The reason? 

The father uses an electric wheelchair and requires a ceiling tracked hoist to access the toilet and to get in/out of bed. They’d been unable to find hotels in Liverpool, or anywhere nearby for that matter, that could offer a room with a hoist. 

Our own investigations found that the nearest suitable hotel was 55 miles away – in Blackpool – which is not ideal if you want to visit Liverpool and enjoy the full experience.

The lack of an accessible bedroom with a hoist was something that we in the council, were very much aware of.  We’d been trying for a number of years to convince hotels of the benefits of installing a ceiling hoist. The Ceiling Hoist Users Club had also been campaigning on the matter for many years. 

Bedrooms with hoists are also recommended in the British Standard ‘Design of an accessible and inclusive built environment’ Code of Practice. 

The problem is that, amazingly, there is no statutory requirement to provide a hoist.

As a result, hotels are reluctant to provide them due to the added cost of installation, concerns around their “brand image” and ongoing maintenance.

As Liverpool City Council’s Inclusive Design Officer it’s my job to ensure that new developments in the city are designed to the highest standards of access and inclusion. 

So when the planning application was submitted to construct a ‘flagship’ hotel in the city’s Paddington Village development, I highlighted from the start the importance of providing a bedroom with a ceiling hoist. By working with the hotel – Novotel – and the design team, we managed to negotiate the provision of 13 wheelchair accessible bedrooms, including one with a hoist.

It is estimated that there are over 250,000 people living in the UK who require assistance to get in/out of bed and they rarely travel alone.  They usually travel with friends and family and their decision to travel is usually well-researched in advance, including where to eat/drink, where to visit, and crucially, where to stay. 

In the whole of the UK there are only 16 hotels that have bedrooms with ceiling hoists. The majority of these are in London. For some people the availability of a hotel room with a hoist will be the difference between visiting Liverpool, or going somewhere else. 

Novotel’s bedroom with a hoist will soon be welcoming its first guests – fittingly, a mum and dad attending their daughter’s graduation ceremony. 

With more hotels in the pipeline equipped with ceiling hoists, Liverpool will be in a stronger position to welcome more disabled people and their family and friends in the future. 

Graham Garnett operating the bed hoist at the new Novotel in Paddington Village – the only room of its kind in the city region

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