TIPS TO MAKE A HOME MORE WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE:
As people’s physical needs change, to be able to adapt homes to support those needs be it for disability or reduced mobility, lives could be positively transformed for many homeowners if homes were more wheelchair accessible.
According to Habinteg Housing Association, the number of people in need of wheelchair-accessible homes is 1.8 million. In addition, and perhaps not surprisingly, of the 14 million disabled people in the UK, 45% are aged 65 or over and people in this age-group rent or own 7 million homes.
So, making properties accessible for friends and family is going to become an increasing concern in the future, and for the sake of comfort and independence, we should all consider what opportunities there are to adapt homes to become more wheelchair accessible.
- Rails, hoists and lifts: well-placed grab rails can give stability allowing for more comfortable movement. A bedroom hoist to help get in and out of bed can make a huge difference to a person’s comfort and independence while a stair or wheelchair lift can give access to an upper floor, or manoeuvrability round a split-level layout.
- Wider doors: not only should the doors in a wheelchair-friendly home need to be wide enough to enable free movement through them, they should be wide enough to allow for a 360 degree turn without limiting access once inside. This may mean widening hallways and passages as well as doors, keeping surfaces flat, and building ramps where necessary for access both in and out. In addition, wooden flooring is worth considering as it can be more easily negotiated than carpeting.
- Bathroom accessibility: firstly, toilet risers, which are handles to help lift on and off the loo, are easy to install, while level access walk-in showers or wet rooms, bath lifts and shower seats can make life easier for many disabled or mobility-challenged people.
- Kitchens accessibility: it is certainly the case that many kitchens often tend to be narrow with appliances at chest level or higher. Kitchens can be adapted so that there is space for wheelchairs to manoeuvre, electric sockets can be placed at around waist or chest height and sinks, and cupboards, are at a low-level access.
- Smart technology: technology is moving incredibly quickly, and now many fittings and appliances can be moved remotely to make them more easily accessible. For example, controlling doors, windows, taps, electrical appliances – and this is an area set to increase dramatically as smart technology becomes more and more mainstream.
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