Adapting your Home for a Wheelchair UserOn November 23, 2016 by jadegreen
There could be many reasons that your home needs to be adapted for wheelchair use. Perhaps a long-term illness has reached the stage where a wheelchair is regularly necessary or an accident has made walking generally difficult. Adapting your home is a great way of ensuring you can stay in the place you love rather than having to move into new accommodation. There are some quite basic adjustments you can make to promote independent living and accessibility.
The first modification you’ll need to make to your home is at its entrance. Where possible it will be necessary to build a ramp for each entrance, or perhaps use portable/removable ramps. Constructing a permanent ramp can be costly but prices differ depending on the company you decide to use. Remember to keep in mind the width of your pathway when designing the ramp and consider additional accessories such as handrails and a non-slip surface if you feel they’re necessary.
Stairs are completely inaccessible to people who need to use a wheelchair at all times. The two main options are to either install a stair lift on the stairs themselves or where space is available make the necessary structural changes to have a functional vertical lift fitted. It provides full accessibility and means the user doesn’t need to leave their chair. Stair lifts will require a second wheelchair at the top of the stairs or assistance with carrying the wheelchair up.
If you have carpet or floors covered in rugs it will be time for a change. It is exceedingly difficult to maneuver a wheelchair over carpeted floors and therefore replacing them with vinyl or wooden flooring is best. Tiles are also an option too whilst some households prefer rubber matting across the many thoroughfares so the floor doesn’t get too worn by the wheels.
If you live in a smaller home doorways may become a problem, as they could be too narrow for a wheelchair user to fit through. The answer here is to widen the doorways where physically possible or perhaps consider reversing how the door opens – small changes such as changes the way the door hangs can really make a difference. On a related note don’t forget that doorknobs too may need to be lowered or you may choose to install automatic openers as these enhance accessibility further.
Although it may not always be necessary if you live alone it is likely you’ll want to have your countertops lowered and appliances installed at an easy to reach level. Roll-out storage units are also a sensible option. Sinks too can be installed specifically for wheelchair use and changes too can be made to light switch positioning and all key outlets and controls can be lowered too.
These are big changes to make to your home but if you’re determined not to move and adapt your home for wheelchair use then these are the places to start. Other things like installing cordless telephones for ease of use are also a great idea but less structurally important than some of these changes.
Tanya Willis is a businesswoman and wheelchair user from Kettering. She specializes in recommending accessibility products and you can find wheelchair ramps here that she has recommended previously.