How to make your home more wheelchair accessible
An extra room, a large garden, ample parking – when we’re looking for our ideal home, we tend to look for the features that fit our lives at that moment, not for a life we may have in the future.
But as we all know, life has its ups and downs, and as we get older, we can find ourselves in different circumstances. There are currently around 1.2 million wheelchair users in the UK and whether it’s a parent or perhaps you now use a wheelchair yourself, you might have found that your home no longer meets your needs.
You may be thinking about moving to somewhere more wheelchair friendly, but it’s not always necessary. Here we look at changes you can implement to make your home more accessible.
Swap carpets for smooth flooring
Although they feel great, carpets aren’t wheelchair-friendly, so rip out any fabric flooring and replace with wood, laminate, or tiled floors. Wood flooring tends to be very expensive, but if you like the look, you could opt for a wood-effect laminate to keep the costs down.
Keeping the same type of flooring throughout one level of the house also creates a clean look and makes the space appear bigger. You can create separate zones with furniture and add texture with cushions and other soft furnishings.
Install a stairlift
If your house is over two or more floors, installing a platform lifts or stairlift means you’ll be able to continue using all of your home and no part will be off-limits.
Stairlifts start at around £2,000, with the price increasing if your staircase is curved or you need additional features. There are grants available, however, so you could investigate that as an option.
Widen your doorways
Standard-sized doorways can severely impact a wheelchair user’s ability to manoeuvre in and out of a room. Enlist a builder to widen your doorways to allow a wheelchair to comfortably get through. An interim option could be to replace your regular hinges with some offset ones, which inexpensively add a couple of inches of space.
In rooms where space is tight, such as smaller bedrooms and bathrooms, you could consider switching standard doors to sliding ones, which will also enable easier access.
Adapt your bathroom
A walk-in shower or wet room with a shower chair is an essential for any accessible bathroom. However, if you like a bath you could consider installing a walk-in bath or a bath belt lift to fit onto your existing bath.
Floating sinks allow room underneath for a wheelchair to fit in and can be set on adjustable brackets so different users can set it at their preferred height. Next, fix handrails next to the toilet, shower and sink area.
With these changes, you can stay in the home you love, but make it work much better for you.