There are many ways to make your home more accessible. What is accessible for one disabled person, may not necessarily be accessible for others. However, there are universal adaptations that can be made to a home to make it more accessible for a range of disabilities and circumstances. The following suggestions are just some of the ways to make your home more accessible.
This post is commissioned by Premier Care, to give my thoughts on ways to make the home more accessible. All opinions are my own.
How To Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible?
1. Level Access or Ramp Access
Many new build homes are built with level access into the home. This is a great universal design for everyone. No steps or ramps needed. However, if your home has steps and you are unable to manage them due to having limited mobility or needing wheelchair access, then installing a ramp is a great solution.
2. Door Entry System
Having the ability to get in and out of your home is something a lot of people may take for granted. If you have a disability you may not have the strength or hand co-ordination to operate the door handle or turn the key to lock/unlock the door. Wheelchair users and people who use other mobility aids such as walking frames may also struggle to open and close doors. Automatic door opening systems are a fantastic way to promote independence and give the freedom to come and go freely without relying on others to help. A wireless intercom system is a great safety addition to pair with the door system, allowing you to speak with the person at the door before letting them in.
3. Ceiling Track Or Portable Hoist
For over fifteen years I have used a Molift Quick Raiser Mobile Hoist for transfers to/from my wheelchair, toilet, bed, shower chair etc. I personally find this type of hoist the most suitable for my needs and circumstances. Others may prefer a ceiling track hoist. Hoists are vital for many disabled people, both young and old. Hoists are a safe transfer method for both the disabled person and the carer. The risk of falls and injury are prevented, so it’s important to decide which type of hoist is most suitable for the individual’s needs, ability and home environment.
Keeping a clear floor space is important to minimise the risk of tripping and falling or from blocking a wheelchair from moving around. Thick carpets and rugs are not ideal for wheelchairs. The best option is wooden flooring as it provides a flat, firm surface for easy manoeuvering without creating resistance. Wooden flooring is also much easier to clean especially during winter months when wheelchair tyres are dirty and wet from being outside. A quick wipe and the wooden floors are as good as new again. Bathroom floors should be non-slip and durable with enough traction to manoeuver.
5. Inclusive kitchen
The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where meals are prepared and eaten. It’s where many families gather and communicate. Therefore, it’s so important that all members of the family whether they have a disability or not, can access the kitchen and spend time together. Having an inclusive and adaptive kitchen with lowered worktops and appliances is a great way to give disabled people who have the physical ability to be able to cook and move around the kitchen freely and independently.
6. Bathroom – Wet Room Or Bath
The accessibility of the bathroom is the main priority for myself and many other disabled people. The bathroom is one of the first things I check out when staying in a hotel or holiday accommodation. If I can’t access the bathroom in my wheelchair then I won’t be able to go to the toilet, shower or carry out basic personal care. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to brush my teeth over a bowl at a desk in my hotel room because I couldn’t get close to the sink.
Not only is it important to have a sink that wheelchair users can roll-underneath and reach, but the rest of the bathroom layout and features are also extremely important too. For example, depending on your disability and/or preference you may, like myself, require a wet room with a roll-in shower and a suitable shower commode chair. Alternatively, an electric bath lift/riser or walk-in bath may be more suitable for your needs. Baths can be very therapeutic and a great way to ease pain or discomfort. Lots of bubbles help too!
Another important and often essential facility is a wash and dry toilet. These amazing toilets allow you to independently toilet by automatically flushing, providing warm water washing and air drying. They are also very easy to use by various controls and sensors, which require very little effort/movement. Grab rails next to the toilet, shower and roll-under sink area are also important for making your home accessible and safe.
7. Multi-level Homes
Single level homes are the ideal option for wheelchair users. Having all rooms on the same level makes life so much easier, but there are various options available if there are stairs. A platform lift, through-floor lift or a stairlift if you are able to transfer from your wheelchair. It doesn’t matter what shape or size your staircase is, there will be a tracking system to suit. Some companies also have curved stairlifts too.
8. Environmental Controls
In this modern world, almost everything is controlled at the touch of a button. Environmental controls are a great way of making your home accessible. They can help you operate the TV, open/close blinds, answer the telephone, control lights, heating, electrical appliances and more.
All the rooms in your home are accessible, but you can’t get into them? Ensure each doorway has been widened to allow a wheelchair to comfortably manoeuvre through. A sliding door may be a better option as a standard door can potentially restrict the manoeuvrability in and out of a room. For example, I have a sliding bathroom door to create easier access in/out but also to maximize the size of the bathroom. Another option would be to have the main living areas, such as the living room, kitchen and dining room open plan. This would make moving around in a wheelchair easier by having fewer obstacles to manoeuvre around.
Do you have suggestions on ways to make a home more accessible? What changes have you made to your home to make it accessible?