As winter looms on the horizon, it’s imperative to turn our attention towards creating homes that not only shield us from the cold but also provide optimum accessibility and comfort for wheelchair users. Home is more than just a physical space; we seek refuge, solace, and inclusion. In this blog, we’ll provide a wealth of practical insights, expert recommendations, and innovative solutions, all aimed at enhancing mobility and access within your living space.
With a focus on making every room a sanctuary of warmth and functionality, we’ll explore the art of designing for limitless accessibility, keeping the unique needs of wheelchair users at the forefront. This blog can be your roadmap to transforming your living space into a haven where accessibility and comfort coexist seamlessly.
Tips to Make Your Home More Accessible and Mobile For Wheelchair Users
Here, we provide 14 practical tips that help you transform your home into a haven of accessibility and mobility for wheelchair users. Make your living space welcoming and inclusive with these tips.
Ramps and Lifts
One of the initial actions to make a home more accessible for wheelchairs is adding ramps to places like stairs and curbs. There are various ramp types, including those fixed in your home, portable ones you can use when you’re out, and collapsible ramps that are easy to store.
If you’re not sure which ramp is right for you, a local expert who specialises in building ramps for wheelchairs can assist you. If you have many stairs in your home, a ramp may not be enough. In such cases, you can also install a device called a lift. These automatic wheelchair lifts can safely carry a person in a wheelchair up and down stairs with the simple push of a button.
Eliminating rugs from your living space is a simple yet essential step to enhance accessibility. While rugs serve decorative purposes and charm your home, they can become obstacles for individuals relying on mobility devices. Removing these rugs creates a more navigable and safer environment, allowing those with limited mobility to move around with greater ease and freedom.
Flooring Space Transformation
Opting for a flooring surface transformation is a worthwhile investment in accessibility. While it may entail a higher cost than simply removing rugs, replacing thick carpets with hardwood or tile has numerous advantages.
It substantially improves the ease of movement for individuals with limited mobility. The smooth and level surfaces of hardwood or tile make manoeuvring with wheelchairs or other mobility aids effortless. This change not only enhances accessibility but also promotes a safer and more comfortable living environment for everyone, irrespective of their mobility limitations.
Go Cordless for Mobility
Recognising the importance of cordless phones may appear self-evident, but it’s a vital aspect of enhancing home accessibility. Many households still rely on corded telephones, which can restrict mobility. Transitioning to cordless phones or mobile devices eliminates the confinement to a single room. This small change fosters a sense of freedom and independence for individuals with limited mobility, allowing them to stay connected and engaged throughout their homes.
Expanding doorways is a crucial step in ensuring your home is wheelchair-friendly. Standard door sizes may not provide enough space, so it’s vital to consider wider doors during construction or renovation. A minimum doorway width of 32 inches is typically recommended to ensure easy movement for wheelchair users. This modification allows individuals to navigate from room to room without obstacles.
The kitchen is often the heart of a home, and it’s crucial to make this space accessible to all residents. Lowering countertops can significantly improve the kitchen’s usability for individuals with limited mobility. By adjusting countertop heights to a range between 28 and 34 inches, you create a workspace that is comfortable and functional for wheelchair users. This slight modification can make a big difference in facilitating daily activities, such as meal preparation.
Create Space Beneath Countertops and Sinks
Apart from lowering countertops, it’s vital to provide ample space beneath them for a wheelchair to slide in easily. To determine the necessary space, measure from the bottom of the wheelchair’s wheels to the top of its armrests. Carving out a space at least two inches larger than your measurement guarantees that wheelchair users can comfortably access and utilise countertops and sinks.
Standard appliances in the home can pose challenges for wheelchair users due to their placement and controls. Consider replacing appliances with more accessible options, such as:
- A side-by-side refrigerator to make items easily reachable.
- A touch-control microwave was installed in the lower kitchen cabinets for convenient access.
- Front-load washer and dryer units for ease of use.
These accessible appliances not only make daily tasks more manageable but also contribute to a more inclusive home environment.
Traditional doorknobs can be challenging for individuals with limited mobility, especially those with difficulty gripping objects. Replacing doorknobs with push-pull bars or installing automatic doors controlled by a wheelchair switch or wall button can significantly improve accessibility. These modifications ensure that all residents can move freely throughout the home without struggling with door handles.
Consider Your Furniture Arrangement
To enhance mobility within the home, it’s essential to consider furniture arrangement. Wheelchairs typically require a minimum five-foot turning radius for effective maneuverability. Therefore, it’s crucial to arrange furniture to provide this required space for wheelchair passage in common areas. Additionally, minimising sharp corners and tight spaces that a wheelchair might need to navigate further enhances accessibility.
Install Safety Bars
Safety bars, also known as grab bars, are vital in ensuring the safety and support of wheelchair users within the home. These bars should be strategically placed in areas such as the bathroom near the toilet, bathtub, and shower. Additionally, handles near the bed can make getting in and out of bed a safer and more manageable task. Properly installing these bars, securely attached to wall studs, is essential to prevent accidents and injuries.
Add a Shower Bench
Since most wheelchairs cannot be used in the shower, it’s crucial to incorporate a shower bench. This feature allows wheelchair users to access the shower area comfortably. You can choose between fixed or foldable benches, a space-saving option. Proper installation with wall reinforcements ensures the safety and usability of the bench. For a more extensive renovation, consider building a wet room that combines accessibility, style, and luxury.
Enhance Your Lighting
Lighting is a frequently overlooked aspect of home modifications for wheelchair users. Adequate lighting is crucial to ensure visibility from a seated position. To address this, ensure lighting is positioned to minimise glare and shadows that can impede visibility. Additionally, light switches should be installed at an accessible height, typically around 36 inches from the ground, to ensure everyone can reach them comfortably. Relocating light switches that may be challenging to access for wheelchair users is also essential.
Audit Your Outdoor Surfaces
Accessibility should extend beyond the interior of the home to outdoor areas. Spending time outdoors is essential for mental health and overall well-being. However, common ground coverings like grass or loose gravel can be challenging to navigate for wheelchairs. To ensure outdoor accessibility, create stable, firm, and slip-resistant surfaces such as concrete, asphalt, tile, and wood. These surfaces allow wheelchair users to enjoy outdoor spaces without limitations, making the home more inclusive.
Creating a warm and accessible home for wheelchair users is not just a matter of practicality; it’s a testament to our commitment to inclusivity and comfort. These adjustments go beyond physical changes; they reflect our dedication to fostering independence and a sense of belonging.
By transforming your living space into a haven where mobility knows no bounds, you’re not just making modifications; you’re opening doors to a world where everyone can move freely, engage fully, and experience the genuine warmth of home without limitations. This represents an inclusive living space, where everyone’s comfort and independence are paramount, and the true essence of home shines.
Easy Healthcare is an NDIS support provider based in Melbourne, offering Domestic Care, Community Participation, Respite Care, Support Coordination, and cleaning and Gardening Services services to NDIS participants. If you have any questions about our NDIS support services, contact us at 1300 959 358.