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Making Your Home Disability Friendly.

There are a number of things to consider when making changes to your home for someone with a disability.  You will have some help and advice from social services, occupational therapists and other professionals, and you also may be entitled to some government funding to help you to make the necessary changes to your home.  Here is a list of things you need to consider when adapting your home:

•    Access to both the front and back of your home. In order to ensure that someone with a disability is able to get into and out of your home it is a good idea is to install a handrail and also build or buy and install a ramp, alternatively you can purchase a portable ramp that you can take out with you.

•    Throughout your home reduce the changes in floor levels as much as possible, wherever there is a gradient or step that a wheelchair user could struggle with, insert a ramp.  Use décor to highlight areas where there are obstructions or a change in floor level.

•    Make sure there is enough room inside your home for someone in a wheelchair to move around freely and access each room.

•    Insert a stair lift to help to get a disabled person to get to higher levels of the property, especially if their bedroom or the bathroom is up there.

•    Measure all of your doors, ensure they are all at least 75cm wide to ensure a wheelchair can get through. Consider removing the door completely and having an open doorway instead.  Before you to start removing your doors consider the illness of the disabled person you are living with, for someone suffering from say dementia, you may want some parts of the house secured so that they cannot enter (e.g. the door to the basement should not be removed and should be locked so they don't get hurt).  If you are keeping your door on, make them easy to open.

•    Consider what type of flooring is best to have around the home, this will vary depending on the type of disability you are accommodating.  For wheelchair users and people who are blind or hard of hearing, it would be useful to have laminate or vinyl flooring, well-laid and at a consistent level.  For someone with poor mobility, vinyl and carpet (well-laid and with no lumps or bumps) to provide a smooth walk but a softer landing should they fall. For people with dementia plain carpets and vinyl would be best.

•    Adapting your kitchen: adapt the height of the work surfaces and appliances so that they can be reached by someone in a wheelchair, reduce any dangers wherever possible: well-lit area, unplug appliances after use, remove obstacles, have a fire extinguisher to hand at a level where everyone can reach it, keep knives and sharp items together in a locked draw and a lowered height.  

•    Adapting your bathroom: install a number of grab rails around the bath, shower and toilet, consider expanding the room if it is small, raise the toilet, install a hand held shower facility.

•    Make rooms as light as possible so you can see all walls, doors and any potential obstructions. Try to keep the lighting levels consistent throughout the home.

•    Ensure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors fitted throughout the home.


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