Today we have launched the findings of our month long investigation into the need for hoists in hotels.
Over 100 Trailblazers have filled in our survey asking for positive and negative experiences of stays in hotels right across the UK. We asked them to rate their experiences staying at 7 major hotel chains, as well as independent hotels and B&B’s.
The key findings from the report includes:
- Over 90% of survey respondents to our survey need a hoist to transfer (4 in 5 disabled people).
- Over 85% can use a mobile hoist if necessary.
- 8 in 10 (almost 80%) of respondents have been unable to go on holiday because of the lack of hoist facilities in hotels in the past 5 years.
- According to Ceiling Hoist Users Club which is a well trusted website which many disabled people refer to when looking for somewhere accessible to stay, there are only 18 known hotels in the UK with ceiling hoists available for use free of charge.
We also conducted a mystery shopper investigation on 9 August 2017, where we called 20 hotels across the country from the same 7 major hotel chains that formed part of the survey. Out of these hotels, only 1 who was able to offer a few hoist who need it. Only 1 other hotel offered help with hiring a hoist, while during a call with another hotel their customer service advisor did not know what a hoist was. Finally, 1 hotel recommended bringing your own hoist, before saying that the beds in their accessible rooms were not suitable for use with mobile hoists.
Lucy Watts MBE is a member of Trailblazers from Essex and a wheelchair user since 2008. She has a muscle-wasting condition and can’t safely transfer so has to be hoisted. She said:
I haven’t stayed away from home since losing the ability to transfer and I’ve been unable to stay overnight purely because of the hoist issue. Hotels having hoists would mean I’d be able to take trips away. I’d be able to attend more conferences – many of which require an overnight stay – which would open up more doors in terms of my voluntary work.
Having faced multiple issues with hotels, I’ve been put off staying overnight – even if we rented a hoist, I haven’t had the confidence to take the risk of not knowing whether the place will be accessible. However, if I knew every hotel had a fully accessible room with available hoist, I would definitely have the courage to branch out and do overnight trips.
Disabled people face enough barriers in life. We shouldn’t be prevented from enjoying trips away because hotels won’t always make the effort to be fully accessible and inclusive.
We are calling on the Government to:
- Amend the current building regulations to reflect the changing needs of disabled people, including the provision of overhead hoists.
- Ensure that independent businesses have adequate funding to make their hotel rooms accessible by creating an ‘access renovation fund’.
We are calling on the tourism industry to:
- Provide mobile hoists free of charge to customers who need them while assessing and installing ceiling hoists in their hotel rooms.
- Provide staff training led by disabled people to both frontline staff and senior managers so that they know what a hoist is, why it is needed by disabled people, and to ensure staff are aware of their policies regarding helping disabled people get the equipment they need for their stay.
We are calling on Local Authorities to:
- Provide planning advice, financial assistance and planning permission which ensures that the access needs of disabled people is at the heart of the planning process for all major renovations and new buildings.
Trailblazers Manager Lauren West said:
It’s incredibly disappointing to know that so many disabled people are missing out on opportunities to visit tourist destinations just because hotels don’t see the value in purchasing or installing hoists.
However, this doesn’t just affect holiday-goers. Young disabled people are unable to take up work opportunities such as attending conferences and are missing seeing family, all because hotels don’t offer what they need.
With an estimated worth of £249 billion a year, the spending power of disabled people is not something to be ignored. I hope both the tourist and hotel industry, along with the government act quickly to rectify the poor access to hotels.
Nic Bungay, Director of Campaigns, Care and Information at Muscular Dystrophy UK, said:
These figures are truly disappointing as it means many disabled people are not able to visit some of our most popular destinations. Muscular Dystrophy UK believes there are some immediate steps the tourist industry and government could take to improve provision.
The tourist industry should provide staff training with disabled people so that their staff know what a hoist is and are aware of their policy regarding helping disabled people get a hoist for their stay. Government could provide increased funding so businesses can access funds to install hoists in hotel rooms. And local authorities could provide financial and planning advice or permission to ensure that access is at the centre of all major renovations and new buildings.
If these measures were implemented immediately it would greatly increase access to hotels for wheelchair uses wishing to travel.