People with limited mobility struggle to engage in their daily routines around the house. With that in mind, it is our duty to make home adaptations for disabled people, allowing them to participate fully in various aspects of life. Accessibility at home promotes equality and enhances the overall quality of life of individuals with limited mobility.
An example of an individual with limited mobility is a wheelchair user. These individuals find it challenging to access various parts of the house with the standard structures such as stairs and squat toilets. That’s why it is essential to invest in home adaptations for disabled people to make wheelchair accessible around their homes.
Ways to Adapt Living Spaces for Wheelchair Users
Entrances and Exits
One of the most crucial aspects of creating accessible living spaces for wheelchair users is designing entrances and exits with their needs in mind. Regular structures, such as staircases, might work for regular individuals, but a wheelchair user will find it extremely difficult to enter and exit the house.
Some adaptability wheelchair steps to make entrance and exit easier include:
- Installing ramps – provide wheelchair ramps for the front door that are not too steep to make it easier to ascend and descend.
- Handrails on both sides of the ramp – install accessible handrails on both sides of the ramp to provide support while ascending and descending.
- Installing automatic doors – automatic doors with sensors help make wheelchairs accessible by eliminating the need to reach for door handles and knobs. Ensure you consider wheelchair door width when installing entrances for the home.
- Accessible door handles – install easy-grip door handles that are easy to operate by individuals with limited mobility issues. Lever handles are highly recommended over conventional round knob options.
Flooring is another part of your home that plays a crucial role in creating an accessible living space for wheelchair users. The first step for making wheelchair accessible floor is choosing materials that provide and even and smooth surface. Such a floor enhances manoeuvrability and reduces trip hazards for individuals with limited mobility.
For rooms with carpets, consider choosing low-pile or short-loop options that minimise the effort required to move the wheelchairs. However, whenever possible, consider wood, laminate or tiled floors that offer a smooth and consistent surface for ease of movement.
The kitchen is one of the parts of the house where everybody visits a couple of times each day. It is essential to make your kitchen wheelchair accessible so that your loved one with limited mobility can easily prepare a meal, even when they are alone at home.
Some of the key kitchen modifications to enhance accessibility include the following:
- Lowering countertops – lowered countertops make it easier for individuals to perform kitchen tasks while seated. You can install countertops with adjustable heights to make them accessible for every individual who lives in the house.
- Removing lower cabinets – removing lower cabinets around the sink and countertops makes it easier for wheelchair users to get closer to them.
- Use lower cabinets for items that get used daily – that makes them accessible, promoting independence for individuals with limited mobility issues.
- Ensure enough spaces between workspaces – wheelchair users should be able to move around in the kitchen. So ensure there is enough space between workspaces for them to turn and face every direction.
Bathrooms present various challenges for individuals with limited mobility due to the tight spaces and slippery conditions. Therefore, it is essential to include them in your home adaptation project. Here are a few adaptability wheelchair steps for the bathroom:
- Raised toilet seats – wheelchair users can struggle to use standard squat toilets. So consider installing elevated toilet seats, which make it easier to transfer to and from the wheelchair to the toilet seat. If possible, install wall-hung toilets that leave some space beneath so the individual can get as close as possible.
- Grab bars or rails – wheelchair users will also need grab bars near the toilet and bathroom for support and stability as they move from the wheelchair onto the toilet seat. Ensure you install these accessibility features at appropriate heights and adequately anchored to ensure maximum support with reduced fall risks.
- Consider a roll-in shower – a roll-in shower eliminates any barriers that could prevent the individuals from getting in the shower. Make sure the floor is slip-resistant and the entrance fits the wheelchair door width for easier access.
The bedroom is another important part of the house that requires modifications to accommodate wheelchair users. Adaptations should focus on creating a comfortable and safe space that meets the specific needs of individuals with limited mobility.
These are the modifications to enhance bedroom accessibility:
- Bed lifts – bed lifts are designed to raise and lower beds for easier accessibility. Installing them can make it easier for individuals with limited mobility to get in and out of bed.
- Position the bed with access from both sides – a two-sided bed configuration helps enhance accessibility, ensuring ease of movement for individuals with mobility issues.
- Bedside tables – individuals with limited mobility will also need a bedside table to provide a convenient surface for placing items such as books and phones after use in bed.
Although these home adaptations, such as a wheelchair ramp for the front door, can help enhance accessibility, wheelchair users still need the help of a live-in caregiver to improve their overall quality of life. These caregivers can help with meal preparation, care routines, bedtime assistance and providing range of motion exercises to improve physical health. The presence of a live-in carer not only ensures their comfort and well-being but also enhances their quality of life. Visit Veritas Care for a complete care assessment for your loved one with mobility issues.