Occupational Therapy Advice and Information

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Rails on Stairs:Info Icon

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    rail considerations on stairs

    Often problems with climbing up and downstairs can be resolved by simply fixing rails, where there are none installed, or by providing additional rails on the stairs that will provide additional support.

    • Make sure that any existing rails are secure and sturdy.
    • Fitting of rails on either one side or both sides of the stairs can provide valuable support when climbing up and downstairs, especially when breathlessness, pain and discomfort are experienced as You can hold the rail/rails for support when either having to stop to rest.
    • Rails also give You something to pull up on or lean on when lifting legs independently on to each individual tread.
    • Ensure that any second rail is fitted at the same height as the existing bannister rail
    • If there are no rails fitted then rails should usually be fitted at a height of between 900 – 1000 mm above the nosing of the treads on the staircase. This will depend upon the height and needs of the User, as some people will require higher or lower rails and will need these carefully measured by an Occupational Therapist where possible.
    • Consider the diameter of the rail to ensure that you can grip it firmly and easily.
    • Rails should be fitted so that they continue past the top and bottom steps by at least 300 mm, to provide extra security to the User, and should be provided as a continuous run from the bottom to the top, including any half landings that there may be as part of the design of your particular staircase. This is not always possible where there are windows on the staircase
    • Rails should be fitted by an experienced competent Contractor with fixings every 1000 mm and no more than 1500 mm from each end.
    • Due to the nature of the wall where a rail is to be fitted it may be necessary for the rail to be fitted on a mounting or backboard, which is then fitted to the wall. Make sure that you still have enough clear width on the staircase to safely climb up and downstairs if this is the case.
    • In a number of modern houses it may not be possible to fit rails to the walls as there may not be sufficient anchorage. In these situations it may be necessary to provide upright supports on the stairs to fix the rail onto but this will need joint discussions with the Contractor and O.T. on site because it is important that the width of the staircase is not compromised because that may cause other difficulties with negotiation of the stairs safely due to the resulting narrowness of the staircase

    Do you have difficulty negotiating the stairs on a bend of your staircase?

    newel post rail on stairs

     Do you have a newel post at the top or bottom of the stairs?  Click ‘Yes’ link below

    I am unable to manage the stairs and worry about my future. Click ‘No’ link below


For more information of what is the best option for you, get in touch with us.