The idea of altering and renovating your home to accommodate a loved one who is in a wheelchair can be a daunting and pretty overwhelming task. But if done correctly, you can really help to improve their quality of life and make a real difference.
But where to begin? The good news is that you may not need to renovate your home completely, just the small, easy changes we’re about to go through, can actually make a huge difference.
Doors, door knobs & bells
The width of our doors isn’t something we normally consider on a day to day basis. But if you need to accommodate a wheelchair user then you may need to think again! Most wheelchairs are 22 to 33 inches in width. Measure the wheelchair to the width of your main access door and interior doors in the home. If you think it’s time for some new doors then check out this website for doors, handles and home improvements.
If the wheelchair user has limited upper body muscle control or limited dexterity, changing your doorknobs to a handle style knob will allow them greater independence in entering and exiting the home. Finally, make sure your doorbell and locks are within reach from a wheelchair height.
Think about furniture placement
This is a matter of making sure the furniture is arranged in such a way that the wheelchair user can easily navigate the chair from room to room. Be mindful of the turning radius as well. Wheelchair users that use extended leg rests etc. will need additional space to change directions.
One way to give someone a real sense of independence is to consider how you can make your kitchen accessible, after all, the kitchen is the busiest room in the house!
Consider lowered countertops and cabinets. For items stored high, some wheelchairs have a seat that raises, or some use an extended “arm” that can reach objects that would otherwise be out of reach. Appliances such as side by side refrigerators as opposed to those with the freezer on the top allow a wheelchair user to open both sides. Ovens with the controls on the front of the stove rather than behind all the burners, and microwave ovens on lowered stands rather than mounted under the cabinets or pushed back on the counter.
Knee spaces at the sink allow a wheelchair user to be closer to the sink. Installing a faucet that when pulled, turns into a sprayer are easier to grasp rather than having a standard sprayer mounted at the back of the stove, the possibilities are endless.
Consider placing non-slip mats on your bathroom floor, then look at mobility aids to use for the toilet and the shower. Wall bars are essential too! If you want to completely change your bathroom, consider a walk-in shower or bathtub. Visiting a reputable mobility shop and discussing your needs with a professional is always a good place to start.