Innovative ceiling hoist systems for The Chiltern School
The Chiltern School, an Area Special School in Central Bedfordshire, had plans to improve accessibility during the summer holidays.
The school had been relying on mobile hoists, which took up valuable classroom space and were difficult to roll over the carpet/hard floor transition areas. The main contractor contacted us in July about conducting a feasibility study and providing a proposal for a ceiling hoist system based on the approved drawings.
Everything had to be complete and ready for the start of term in September.
A site visit and discussion with the contractor highlighted a range of opportunities and challenges.
The classbases were constructed with blockwork walls and a suspended ceiling grid. The limited ceiling heights meant that a smaller hoist unit was required to achieve a safe, effective transfer. Unfortunately, the soffit behind the suspended ceiling was unable to take structural loading, which meant tracks couldn’t be installed in the standard way.
The hygiene room presented more complex issues because there was a wide variation in ceiling height across the bays. In addition, the main area had a very high ceiling and ventilation windows running around the margin. This therefore required a thoughtful and creative approach to deliver the right coverage and capacity.
We had just 4 weeks to prepare and install equipment across several rooms.
Because the classroom soffits couldn’t support a ceiling hoist, we planned a system that used the solid perimeter walls instead. Together with the innovative GoLift, which has a high lifting capacity in an unusually small unit, the school achieved the coverage it needed with an easy-to-operate and sleek solution.
In the hygiene room, we designed a web of lightweight structural steelwork to span the care bay openings and provide the required track fixing locations. This was assembled in the room and fixed into position, allowing our technicians to move in and fit the tracks efficiently. Careful attention had to be paid to the ceiling heights to make certain the finished system was exactly level. Our plan called for 3 turntables, allowing each GoLift hoist unit to be moved between bays and across the transfer area for maximum flexibility. These turntables relied on specific support from the structural steelwork to ensure they were installed perfectly in line with the rest of the system.
With an eye on the handover date, Wealden technicians installed and weight-tested all the systems within 4 days, leaving just a few finishing touches to be completed before handing over to the main contractor the day before the school reopened. Not only was everything ready on time, but our systems achieved significant budget savings.
The new hoist systems are revolutionising the way care is delivered at The Chiltern School. Staff have commented on how much easier it is to transfer pupils, and teaching assistants are excited about the extra classroom space they have without bulky mobile hoists.