Whether you are a wheelchair user yourself, or have a loved one who relies on one, facing the prospect of making the home wheelchair friendly can seem daunting. There can be a lot of confusion around which areas of the home could be made more accessible and the ways in which that can happen. Understandably, there are also concerns around the costs and upheaval involved.
As home adaptation specialists in every aspect of wheelchair accessibility, GB Home Adaptations knows the importance of providing an all-round service that offers every adaptation our clients need. We also recognise the importance of offering help and advice, along with fair and competitive costs and the minimum of disruption when working in our client’s homes. As such, we are in a great place to shed some light on what exactly is available to make your home wheelchair-friendly.
Here are some of the most popular and effective home adaptations for wheelchair users, along with the impact they can have towards maintaining dignity and independence.
Widening doorways & paths
Wheelchairs users need more space when passing through a doorway or using a path safely. Standard wheelchairs are around 64cm wide, meaning doorways have to be around 90cm wide to allow for safe and comfortable use.
We would always talk to you about the type of wheelchair you use indoors, as some such as electric and mobility wheelchairs may be even wider and require more room to turn when entering or exiting the doorway.
Pathways should also be wide enough to accommodate the type of wheelchair that you might use on them. However, thought also needs to be given to the path’s surface with loose bark chippings or stone, slate and pebbles replaced in favour of a more stable replacement.
Pocket sliding doorways
Doors that open inwards and outwards can prove difficult to navigate for a wheelchair user, making sliding doors a great solution. Instead of opening outwards or inwards, they slide to one side into a pocket concealed within the wall cavity.
These doors can be single or paired into doubles depending on the required width of your doorway and slide simply and smoothly on rollers.
Access ramp & platforms
Many people looking at adapting doorways see this as an ideal time to implement ramps and platforms, in place of steps.
This can be a permanent, solid construction that is ideal for regular use at any time of the year. These are constructed to your bespoke specifications, designed especially for your needs and the features of your property.
A lack of space or awkward location can be overcome by using ‘L’ or ‘U’ shaped ramps and they have a safe anti-slip surface.
Flooring is easily overlooked, but for wheelchair users it can be a good idea to look closely at its suitability.
Carpets, especially deep-pile ones can make it impossible to navigate down hallways and through rooms.
Look instead at laminates or hardwood flooring, linoleum is another good value alternative, there are also non-slip floorings available for bathrooms and wetrooms.
Lower light switches/smart technology
Conventionally fitted light switches and plug sockets close to the floor can be impossible for a wheelchair user to safely reach. One is too high, the other too low.
If you are thinking about making changes to your home, it might be the ideal time to address these issues.
An ideal and modern alternative for many people is the use of smart technology. Smart plugs, smart speakers and even light bulbs and other appliances can all be set up to respond to voice controls or commands issued from a smart phone.
Adapted kitchens with rise & fall units
Traditional kitchens can make life impossible for wheelchair users as the height of counters, cooking surfaces and cupboards simply aren’t practical. There can also be factors such as clear open space to turn safely and space beneath worktops to enable wheelchair users to get as close to prep surfaces as they need to.
Many people look at rise and fall units as a solution, this can include kitchen sinks which can also be lowered to a convenient height. You might also think about getting some of the wall cupboards fitted as rise and fall units.
Along with kitchens, bathrooms tend to be the rooms requiring the most work to enable wheelchair accessibility. A walk-in wetroom can make everyday tasks so much easier and can be undertaken as a renovation of an existing bathroom or the conversion of a downstairs room or garage.
Wetrooms can have a walk-in shower combined with a seat or bench to make them more practical to use, walk-in baths are also an option for those who prefer bathing.
Other aspects of the wetroom to take into consideration are fixtures such as towel rails, wash basins and toilet height to make sure they are convenient for wheelchair use, as well as handrails and track hoists.
Ready to make your home wheelchair accessible?
If you would like to learn more about home adaptations and how we could help you make your home wheelchair accessible, get in touch. Our specialist home adaptations team would love to help.