Image of EasyTrack with Joerns Voyager

Gantry hoist – EasyTrack with Joerns Voyager

I recently received a gantry hoist. A gantry hoist is very similar to a ceiling track hoist, in that it has a track that runs along at ceiling height. However rather than being permanently fixed to the ceiling it is balanced on poles which rest on the floor or are braced between the floor and ceiling.

This almost makes it a temporary version of a ceiling track hoist. Having the poles can be quite frustrating, but in my case I managed to position it such that one was between my bedside table, and the other was against my firewall. It has very long feet, and the entire contraption is stable. The pole runs along from the hoist at almost ceiling height.

My occupational therapist originally wanted me to have the Invacare Robin but apparently there were none available, which is why I got the Joerns Voyager. I’m getting on very well with my ceiling height hoist, and it is far preferable to using a mobile hoist. It feels far safer, far more sturdy, and just generally works better.

The same cannot be said for the Joerns Voyager itself. When this was delivered instead of the Invacare Robin, I didn’t really think twice about it. Surely one ceiling hoist was the same as another.

The Joerns Voyager runs along the track between the two poles of the gantry hoist, and when you lower it, a large heavy plastic block comes down on a piece of fabric that is much like a seatbelt. That block has hooks on either side, to which you attach the straps of your hoist sling.

This is where I had the problem with the Joerns Voyager. Because the piece of fabric it was on was, understandably, flexible it would swing from side to side very easily. A couple of times it nearly caught the head of a PA strapping me in. Furthermore, because of the curvature of my spine I have my head a very long way forwards. This meant that as we were lowering me down into my chair my head would reach the headrest, and the block of the hoist would come down on top of my head. We were all very alert, and there were no major injuries, but it did not feel like a particularly safe design of hoist.

The other problem with this hoist was the battery life. It could barely pick me up, put me in my chair, and then return me to bed without setting off the low battery alarm. Admittedly it never completely ran out of battery, but it would often beep in a very unhappy manner. This made me uncertain about trusting it, especially when I realised that a PA might not have charged at the previous night. In order to charge it, the battery had to be removed from the hoist and put in a charger, which people did often forget. I sometimes decided not to get out of bed because I was so worried that it would run out of battery and trap me in my chair.

After persisting with it for about a month, I spoke to my OT, who explained that she had actually ordered a different one. We organised for them to be swapped over, and I’m very happy with the replacement, the Invacare Robin.