Making a transition to use a wheelchair for access and moving about is never an easy step to make, regardless of whether you are young or old. But in order to maintain a feeling of relative independence, it is essential to modify the home to be accessible and used by wheelchair users with as little assistance as possible from relatives or carers.
This article looks at 5 of the top considerations you need to consider when adapting a home to suit a person using a wheelchair.
Step 1 – Making the home accessible
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First of all, it is essential to be able to enter and exit the home freely without any assistance. Installing access ramps for elevated entrances or threshold ramps for smaller increases in elevations such as doorsteps will enable the wheelchair user to access the home independently.
Ensure that there are no low lying branches hanging over the ramp, which slope should not exceed a 1 meter elevation for every 12 horizontal meters. The access ramp also needs to have proper assist handrails, and a level landing near the door to enable the user to open the door without problems.
Step 2 – Internal access
To aid mobility inside the home, it is necessary to ensure the door openings and hallways are wide enough for a wheelchair. Wheelchairs also move more freely on hard floor coverings than rugs and thick carpets.
Open plan designs are therefore popular when designing for universal access. Single storey homes are obviously preferable for wheelchair users, although the challenge of stairs can be faced with a wheelchair lift.
Step 3 – Kitchen
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Being able to make your own food in the kitchen is something we all take for granted. However, most kitchens are very hard to use for wheelchair users. The benchtop is too high, and the user cannot get close enough, it is hard to get the food out of the hot oven without burning arms, and the pantry is inaccessible.
The solutions involve creating a lowered benchtop section for the wheelchair user with an open access under the benchtop for legs and wheelchair to slide under. Side opening ovens are also an excellent way of accessing the contents of the oven without burning oneself on the hot oven door. There are several solutions for the pantry, including pull-out pantries, butler style pantries or pantries with a revolving carousel.
Step 4 – Bathroom
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Another essential room that needs renovating is the bathroom and toilet. Stepless showers allow the wheelchair user to access the shower without any obstacles. Assist rails for toilets and bathtubs are also essential modifications.
It is also recommended to have free space under the vanity, in order for the wheelchair to slide under the vanity for better access to washing hands, brushing teeth and other essential rituals and hygienic exercises. Make certain that you choose tap fittings that are easy to use, such as long handled flip mixers.
Step 5 - Garage
Another area that might need adjustments is the garage, as it needs to accommodate a vehicle modified for wheelchair users. Extra space is needed to enter and exit the vehicle with the wheelchair lift from the rear or side. Also keep in mind the extra space needed to wheel past the vehicle in order to enter the home.
These tips have been brought to you by Scott Darmanin, a wheelchair user and a disabled access builder with VIP Access.
This is a great article. I have had lots of experience with people who use wheelchairs and so found this article interesting. It's good to bring these points to the attention of the general readership as anyone could need to use a wheelchair at some time of their life.