Making your home wheelchair accessible needn’t be a daunting task and most definitely does not require building a new home from scratch. There are a plethora of excellent ways that your property can be perfectly tailored to your requirements, ensuring that you can maintain both comfort and independence. With our guide on how to make your home wheelchair accessible, you will be guaranteed to design the ultimate haven for relaxation.
A Guide On How To Make Your Home Wheelchair Accessible
Ensuring that a property can accommodate limited mobility merely takes a little adjusting, and additional modifications yet can completely transform lives. No longer must you move home to increase accessibility, your current home can be adapted to make it a straightforward task to manoeuvre while using a wheelchair.
There are many considerations you must keep in mind when building a fully accessible home, such as budget and which room will take priority. Below we have put together different ways in which you can improve your property, broken down by room, to help you to find which projects would be best suited to your requirements.
Around The House
Before delving deeper into specific room improvements, there are several adaptations that you must make around the house to move from room to room with ease. These should be your first considerations when hoping to increase accessibility as each will help to enhance the quality of everyday life.
Stairlift or Wheelchair Lift
Those who live in a flat or bungalow are already at a considerable advantage as there will be no need to tackle stairs. If you live in a two or more storey home, on the other hand, your first installation should be either a stairlift or wheelchair lift. In eliminating the need to use stairs, you will also remove the associated dangers such as tripping or falling.
There are many differences between a stairlift and wheelchair lift, also known as a platform lift. While stairlifts are made up of a mechanical lifting device featuring a seat, a wheelchair lift is designed with a platform in which a wheelchair can be can roll onto. Stairlifts are fitted to the staircase, most commonly on the wall. As they are relatively small, they allow plenty of space for loved ones to continue using the stairs without disruption. Whereas, to be able to facilitate all sizes of wheelchairs, platform lifts are slightly larger, meaning only one person can use the stairs at once. Many are now designed in a slimline structure, which can be folded away when not in use.
More information on the difference between a stairlift and platform lift can be found on Liftavator.
Installing wheelchairs ramps are an essential home update. They should be fitted to all main entrance and exit doors to your property. Before building a ramp, always check as to whether it meets the ‘permitted development’ profile; otherwise, you will need to apply for planning permission. Homebuilding & Renovating has a helpful guide on everything you need to know about permitted development.
When choosing a ramp, it is vital to consider which material would be best suited to your requirements. Below are the most popular ramp materials:
- Aluminium – The longest-lasting ramp materials and requires no maintenance.
- Concrete – Best suited if you require extra grip as concrete ramps are designed with a rough texture.
- Wood – Looks the most aesthetically pleasing, but requires regular maintenance to avoid deterioration due to weather exposure.
Opting to widen doors is one of the most significant home renovations as you must be able to manoeuvre freely between rooms. Try to ensure that doorways are wide enough to accommodate a full 360-degree wheelchair turn.
Widening doors is likely to require additional construction work as you may need to move the positioning of doorways. It is recommended to book a consultation with a qualified occupational therapist, who will assess your property and advise the best route moving forward. If you do need to alter doorways, then this is likely to be covered by your local council provided Disabled Facilities Grant. You can apply for this through the GOV.UK website.
In order to easily manoeuvre your home while using a wheelchair, adequate flooring is essential. Flooring must make it simple to turn and be durable, able to last for years to come without wearing down. When considering flooring materials, we suggest steering clear of carpet and instead, research the following:
- Hardwood flooring
- Laminate flooring
- Ceramic tiling
- Vinyl flooring
Technology continues to evolve, so use it to your advantage! An array of different devices can now be automated using smart technology, such as lighting, windows and electrical appliances. Anything that may prove a little trickier to reach can be made easy using smart technology.
We suggest taking a look at door automation and entry systems. Door automation can be fitted to almost every style, including hinged, sliding and garage doors. Entry systems, on the other hand, reassure the security of your home, allowing you to gain full control over who enters. A generous selection of both smart technology types can be purchased and installed by Automated Door Systems.
As bathrooms are one of the smallest rooms in the home, they are super easy to remodel to accommodate a wheelchair. Your new bathroom must be not only easy to manoeuvre but also functional, practical and safe. We suggest beginning with the following renovations:
As the most straightforward and cost-effective bathroom update, handrails are a great way to increase mobility. They provide support when standing up, sitting down and moving position, along with enhancing balance. Handrails, also known as grab rails, can be installed horizontally or vertically in any locations around the bathroom that you require. A full guide on choosing and fitting grab rails can be found on the DLF website.
Consider A Wet Room
Wet rooms are one of the most effective ways to make your bathroom fully accessible. As specialists in the design and installation of wet rooms in Milton Keynes, we have years of experience tailoring each project to improve showering convenience. There is no need for a shower tray, which means that they are ideal for those with limited mobility. It is entirely your choice as to whether you opt for converting your entire bathroom to a wet room or just a percentage of your floorplan.
When fitting a wet room, we suggest considering a seat, which will allow any user to sit down comfortably while showering. Don’t forget to also add in handrails around the chair.
Fit A Riser
A toilet riser provides support when transferring from a wheelchair. They are designed to prevent falls, slips and any injuries; therefore, maximising safety. They increase the height of the current toilet seat and often feature railings to lean on when moving to and from the wheelchair. Consumer Expert has a useful guide to the best toilet seat risers for ideas on where to begin your search.
Mobility Bathroom Suite
If you are hoping to reconfigure your entire bathroom with a complete renovation, a mobility bathroom suite is ideal. Mobility bathroom suites ensure that every component is tailored to your need, maximising accessibility and promoting independent living. Both walk-in showers and walk-in baths are available; all of which include advanced safety features.
If you are interested in a suite and looking for guidance, do not hesitate to contact Lifestyle Mobility. Our extensive knowledge in mobility bathroom suites in Buckingham will assist you in making the best decision!
The kitchen is likely to require the most significant reconfiguration. Conventional kitchens are designed with narrow floor space and high cupboard or appliance spaces. Due to this, the kitchen will need to be adapted to ensure that there is enough room to manoeuvre, and all access is at a low level.
Low Work Surfaces
The average work surface is positioned at a height of 36 inches, which can make usability tricky when using a wheelchair. With this in mind, all countertops must be lowered to make using the sink, oven and food preparation spaces easy to use. Everyone is different, which means that countertops should be designed at a height that works best for you.
Always ensure that cabinets or cupboards do not obstruct the underneath of work surfaces. Instead, all areas must be clear from fixtures, so a wheelchair can comfortably fit beneath the countertop.
Base Storage Units
Reaching for high cupboards can be somewhat strenuous, which means that base storage units would be a worthwhile consideration. All cabinets, drawers and shelving can be placed on the floor as opposed on fitted on walls. It means that everything you may need while cooking can be accessed with ease.
It is important to keep in mind that base storage units are likely to be a little smaller than those designed for walls. Due to this, keeping organised will be essential to make sure that you have plenty of space for all kitchen items. You can find a host of clever kitchen storage tricks on Good Housekeeping!
Large Circulation Space
When cooking a meal, you will continuously have to move around the kitchen, going to and from, for example, the fridge and oven. To ensure that you can navigate with ease, it is vital to ensure that you have plenty of circulation space – at least 1500mm is ideal. This may require your kitchen to be remodelled to accommodate wheelchair use; however, hundreds of specialists are available who can assist you in a redesign. We suggest taking a look at KBSA to find your local mobility kitchen designer.
Consider Touch Controls
There are an array of kitchen essentials which can be controlled via touch, which is ideal for those with limited mobility. One of the most popular touch control appliances is the oven, which is managed using a screen. Not only can this be used to change settings and temperatures, but many also let you know whats going on inside the oven. Another handy addition to your kitchen is touch-activated taps. Touch-activated taps utilise a sensor, which can sense when your hand is near and will switch on. This avoids any need for levers or turnable tops.
Make Your Home Fully-Accessible
There are a plethora of ways that you can make your home wheelchair accessible without compromising on style. Before going ahead with any renovations, it is vital to highlight the areas of your home that are beginning to cause the most problems, then start with these. Don’t forget to check on the GOV.UK website as to whether you are eligible for funding as your local council will cover almost all adaptations of your home. Not only will they provide financing for your home improvements, but also help to arrange projects with reputable specialists.