why use a ceiling lift

Daily Activities Promoted by Ceiling Lifts Include:

  • Transfer from bed to chair, wheelchair, commode
  • Lift off floor
  • Transfers Into bathroom
  • In-bed repositioning and turning
  • Limb lifting assistance
  • Ambulation/PT

CL1Benefits of a Safe Patient Handling Program using Ceiling Lifts
The greatest benefits of ceiling lifts include:

  • Reducing if not eliminating caregiver injuries
  • Allowing caregivers to work later in their careers by reducing the physical demands of lifting and increasing recruitment and retention of staff
  • Increasing staff productivity by enabling one caregiver to transfer patients including ventilator patients versus 2-4 and ensuring that daily necessary activities such as moving patient from bed to chair will be performed when needed
  • Improving patient outcomes through reducing facility acquired pressure ulcers (FAPU) and ventilator associated pneumonia (VAP)through more constant repositioning and transferring
  • Reducing risk of injury to patient and reducing need for pain meds during such transfers
  • Enhancing facility economics by reducing worker comp costs and reducing “never” events such as FAPU and VA
  • The net result of these benefits is everyone benefits and the return on investment is very strong (assuming the SPH Program is implemented successfully and the lifts are used on a regular, daily basis—something that Tollos can greatly help with)

Ceiling Lifts vs Floor Lifts
CL2Ceiling lifts have a higher cost but provide greater benefits over floor lifts.  These include:

  • Immediate Access.  Ceiling lifts take up very little space when installed in the patient room so are always available.  This contrasts to using a floor lift that might be on a different hall.  Many studies show that when the equipment is not readily available, the staff will not spend time finding it but will perform a manual lift (the out of sight, out of mind syndrome).
  • Space Needs.  In hospitals in particular, there is very little space to use floor lifts or even store them versus an overhead ceiling lift.
  • Less Exertion.  Ceiling lifts always require much less exertion to move the patient.  A floor lift with a 300lb patient or a 450lb patient still takes multiple caregivers to move the lift.  A ceiling lift holding a 750lb patient can be moved easily by one caregiver using one hand
  • Greater Flexibility and Coverage.  A ceiling lift in a typical X-Y system can be used to reposition a patient in bed including pulling them up in bed and is much easier to perform other activities from limb lifting to rolling.  
  • Utilization.  All of the above means with a SPH program, staff will use ceiling lifts all day every day achieving all the benefits described above which is usually much harder and more expensive to achieve with floor lifts.



Which Ceiling Lift?
There are two basic types of ceiling lifts—fixed ceiling lifts that are mounted on the ceiling, and portable units that can be moved from room to room.   Some pros and cons include:  

Cirrus-600---NBFixed Motors  

  • Always in room creates greater utilization
  • Motors have higher weight capacity
  • Versatile spreader bars allow for more tasks
  • Charging can be continuous track
  • Quick release trolley allows easy service
  • Higher compliance

Stratus-II--6-pt-SB-nbPortable Motors  

  • Lower initial cost (per project/not per motor)
  • Stored out of room with charger
  • Out of sight, out of mind; less compliance
  • Smaller, less versatile spreader bar
  • No continuous charge option
  • Requires work to move from room to room
  • No integrated scale option


If budget permits, fixed ceiling lifts are much easier, more versatile and therefore more utilized generally.


fig.1 Straight Track vs. X-Y System
fig.2 X-Y System w/ Gate into Bathroom and Turntable
fig.3 Non-Recessed vs. Recessed X-Y Track System

Design / Installation / Cost Considerations
There are many factors to consider when looking at a ceiling lift system.  The most important element will be the track design.  Track can be as simple as a ten foot straight rail that allows a transfer from bed to chair but not much else to an X-Y system with a gate into the bathroom.   The cost increases as the complexity of the system increases.   While lift systems can be installed in most facilities even after the fact, the type of structure (concrete subfloors, steel Ibeam, wood trusses, steel joists, etc) impact the cost and feasibility as do the system dimensions, the amount of space above ceiling and even the seismic zone status of the region.   Lastly, obstructions in the ceiling from duct work to lights, speakers, fire sprinklers and conduit affect the location and cost of ceiling lift systems.  In cases of new construction, most of these issues will be dealt with in the planning and coordination stage.

Most SPH experts recommend X-Y systems for the greater versatility which again increases the utilization.   For rehab, neuro and orthopedic units, the system often goes to the bathroom.  And more and more physical therapy rooms and radiology have ceiling lifts. The photos in fig.1 and fig.2 show different systems.  

Charging and Parking Motors
Other considerations include how the motor is charged since ceiling lifts are battery operated which require recharging.  This can be done by parking the motor at the end of rail in a charging station or what is more commonly done today where the rail is continuously charged so the motor remains charged even if it is not docked at the end of the rail.

Another item for consideration is where the motors will be parked since they take up space with the spreader bar hanging down.  Therefore, leaving the motor in the middle of a room is not a viable option.  Typically, the motor will be parked near the headwall but often in new construction, cabinets on the headwall, the footside wall or even in the bathroom might be used to house the motor and related slings.  Other design considerations include using recessed rail which has much better aesthetics but are typically only installed in new construction.

Cost Factors
The size and design of the system will affect cost as well as the weight rating.  Typically, a 1,000lb rated system may require more structural support than a 450lb or 600lb system.  This includes above ceiling  bracing and anchoring as well as the size of the track itself.  Industry ballpark figures are $5,500 for a 10’ by 10’ 600lb ceiling lift system to $8,000-$10,000 for the same system that has a gate and turntable and covers the full bathroom.  A simple straight rail might cost $3,500.  Part of the costs are dictated by how many rooms are being installed (there are efficiencies with more rooms), union vs non-union requirements, seismic zone issues (OSHPOD in California can triple the cost), obstructions, work hour restrictions, etc.   

Beginning the Process

Due to some of the complexities involved and the multiple options, Tollos recommends the ceiling lift vendor be brought in early in the process to recommend track configurations, perform an on-site assessment (free by Tollos), and provide plans and drawings and begin a dialogue with the facility staff and advisors so that planning considerations from the lift standpoint are understood while changes can still be made.


wt1 Ceiling-Lift-Cabinet-2v CLCab1 Picture58
fig.4 Recessed Curve fig.5 Cabinet Designs Available


Which ceiling lift company to use?

Cover_CollageTollos has been manufacturing lifts since 1989 and is a dedicated, SPH company with extensive experience designing, manufacturing, installing and training on ceiling lift systems. This total solution approach is critical as there are many examples of customers installing ceiling lifts that never get used and then everyone questions the efficacy of the system.  As a result, Tollos takes a complete holistic approach so that the key members of the organization participate, buy in and then are trained under Tollos, free,  time proven SPH program (customized for each customer) that ensures maximum utilization and benefits).

In addition to the solution approach, Tollos products are truly best in class including:

  • Single 1,000lb motor
  • Longest useful life
  • Longest warranty
  • Patent pending infection control strap enabling only the Tollos lift strap to be easily disinfected
  • Iq Technology and Wi-fi
  • Integrated scale option
  • Most comfortable/useful spreader bars
  • North American made

na2And speaking of North American made, our products are manufactured from raw steel in our plants in Tennessee and Canada where we bend, machine, weld, paint, assemble and generate high quality, long lasting best in class lifts.  See “Our Plants.”

Our mission is to design products that represent true value.  Tollos products are innovative, aesthetically pleasing, include many proprietary, state of the art features yet are durable, easy to use and easy to service.  We back this mission by he longest industry warranty and 100% customer satisfaction pledge. As a result of our dedication to these goals, 99% of our customers become long-standing repeat customers representing some of the largest, most demanding customers in North America.  We would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about becoming our next customer.


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