• adaptmyhome.co.uk

The Complete Guide to Disability Home Renovations.

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Is it time to make a few alterations to your home? If you or a family member has a physical disability or are just finding it a little harder to move about the house, mobility renovations might be necessary to ease the burden and to help to continue independent living. So, how can you make your home more accessible for yourself, a disabled or elderly loved one? In this article, we will reveal the answer to these questions and guide you in the process of home adaptations and mobility renovations.


In 2018 to 2019, a survey conducted by The Family Resources revealed that 14.1 million people in the UK live with a disability and 44% of them are pension age adults while 19% of them are working-age adults. To help these individuals live comfortably and independently, their families made mobility alterations to their home to allow them to live happily and safely.

What are the home mobility modifications commonly made by their families to cater to their needs?


Common Home Adaptations For Disabled or Elderly Homeowners

Here are a few common home mobility adaptations made in critical spaces to make the home more accessible for disabled or older people.

BATHROOM


A bathroom is essential to daily life, but it can become difficult to access as a person gets older, or for disabled people due to mobility limitations. That's why this space often needs updating to ensure it remains functional, practical and accessible to everyone family member, regardless of ability. Ultimately, the bathroom must be a safe and pleasant environment to spend time. Common bathroom modifications include the following:


Handrails and grab bars

Installing handrails and grab bars next to fixtures like toilets, sinks and showers provide additional support to keep you steady while bathing, in sitting down, pulling yourself up or walking between bathroom facilities.


Sinks and Worktops

People on a wheelchair may find it challenging to reach a sink or worktop that is either too high, too low to the ground or creates a wheelchair obstruction. In these instances, it would be best to modify the sink based on a person's particular needs, while ensuring the sink is still easily accessible to other family members.


Walk-in bath

Installing a walk-in bath with a low step and water-tight door can help you take a bath or shower easier. Most walk-in baths can replace an existing bath with minimum alteration, meaning a quick installation with little mess.


Taller toilets

This type of toilet is easier to use than standard toilets which are too low to the ground.


Bidet Style toilets

Bidet style toilets combine a range of hygienic cleaning functions to enable continued independent living. Toilet controls, and remote controls, operate the heated seat, washing, massaging, auto deodorising and drying functions.


Walk-in shower

A walk-in shower with a low or no step into the shower area with an anti slip shower base enables easy and safe access to shower facilities. Most walk-in showers can replace an existing bath with minimum alteration, meaning a quick installation with little mess.


wheelchair-accessible walk-in shower

A wheelchair-accessible walk-in shower with no curb, which is similar to a walk-shower, can enable independent or assisted bathing.


Shower seats

A shower seat can make a big difference to those who find it difficult to stand for the duration of a shower but still require independence in the bathroom. When not in use a shower seat will fold neatly against the wall.


Wet rooms

A correctly designed wet room can look modern and stylish while providing easy access for all the family's washing and bathing needs. A wet room is a great option for smaller bathrooms; if you no longer need or want a bath, you can simply remove it and create a shower area instead. A simple shower panel instead of bulky shower cubicle doors and frame will make the bathroom spacious, lighter and more comfortable to access and easier to keep clean. Ensuring a wet room is water-tight involves specialist materials and additional labour time; for that reason, wet rooms tend to be more expensive to install when compared to a standard bathroom.


Easy-access storage

Fitting lower storage that is more reachable than standard mirror vanity is also a good option for people with disabilities.


Transfer benches

Sliding chairs or transfer benches can help you shower easily and comfortably if you have low mobility.


Weighted shower curtain and water retainer

If you have a mobility-friendly shower, it will be inevitable that water will spill outside of the shower area. A weighted shower curtain can help retain water within the shower space and help to keep the bathroom dry.


BEDROOM



Accessible dresser and wardrobe with low hanging rails.

If you're overstretching or straining when taking out or putting away clothing, a longer dresser or cupboard storage with low hanging rails may be more convenient than standard bedroom furniture.


Bed height

We all start and end our day in our beds, and the right bed height is essential with standard bed heights ranging from 16 to 24 inches (approximately 40 to 60cm). The correct bed height should match the user – If you can sit on the bed with your feet flat on the floor with your knees in a straight line with your hips, then your bed is the right height. For those in a wheelchair, to enable easy transfer, bed height should match the wheelchair seat height.

Where a career is required to assist a person in a bed, they should do so at a safe working height. Variable height adjusted beds must conform to BS EN 60601-2-52; which stipulates that the top platform (Bed height excluding mattress), must be capable of being raised to 80 cm from the floor.


Ceiling lift hoist

Installing this type of lift can help disabled people in getting in and out of bed quickly. If this is not available, a portable floor lift can also be a useful alternative. You may have to reinforce the ceiling before installing this type of ceiling lift system.


Overhead ceiling-mounted lift and travel hoists

When a little more care is needed, overhead track hoists provide much-needed lifting assistance when transferring a person in and out of bed or from the bedroom to the bathroom. Modular ceiling track mounting systems can be installed to create a transfer route virtually anywhere around the home. You may have to reinforce the ceilings before installing this type of lifting system.


Flooring

People with wheelchairs and mobility aids may find it challenging to get around if the carpet in the room is thick, and those with a sensory disability may find it unpleasant and overstimulating. Therefore, using either thin carpets, vinyl or rubber flooring may be a more suitable choice.


Hidden cords

Be sure to hide the cords and cables behind your furniture or mount them to your skirting boards to prevent people with a visual or mobility-related disability from tripping and falling.


Wall colours

Dark and bright wall colours can be painful to look at for people with sensory or visual disabilities. We recommend choosing a calming hue or something that contrasts your furniture to improve visibility.



HALLWAYS AND STAIRS



Stairlift

Installing a stairlift would be beneficial for you if climbing the stairs is becoming too tricky. You can either sit on a chair or perch on a platform, so going upstairs can be comfortable and safe again. A stairlift can be fitted to all types of staircases - straight or curved.


Home lifts

A home lift is much the same as a lift you may encounter in a shopping centre, office or hospital. The only difference is that they are smaller and quieter. There is a range of lifts available that will get you between floors quickly and safely. These types of lifts have a small footprint so they can be positioned virtually anywhere in your home – even in a cupboard.


Handrails and grab rails

Installing handrails and grab rails can support you when moving down long hallways, from one step to another or from one room to another.


Ramps

The fitting of ramps can help overcome small hurdles that are a big problem, such as changes in floor level or a few back doorsteps, making rooms and the outside more accessible.


KITCHEN




Pull Out kitchen taps

Pull Out taps are essentially taps on a flexible hose. The tap head extends and can be easily be directed where required, allowing you to reach and move the tap quickly and wash things without moving your body. A single-lever or touch-sensitive operation would be also beneficial for you if you have trouble turning a tap handle or holding something with your hand.


Tap handles

A single-lever, touch or motion-sensitive tap operation will be beneficial if you're having trouble turning a tap handle or holding something with your hand.


Temperature regulated taps

The young and the old are more susceptible to scalding as they generally have thinner skin than those of adult age. By installing a thermostatically controlled tap, or a thermostatic valve before a standard tap, you can be safe in the knowledge that the water will never get too hot. It is a Building Regulation Requirement that all new homes shall have bath taps that do not exceed 48°c; this is good practice to follow when replacing an existing bath or bath tap.


Round edges to prevent injuries

Sharp corners in your home should be rounded off to avoid injuries.


Shallow-basin sink

When sitting in front of a sink, it is a little easier to grasp dishes and cutlery at the bottom of the basin if the basin is shallow.


Plan your kitchen – The kitchen work triangle

The three main points in your kitchen, the sink, hob and fridge, make up what kitchen planners call the 'kitchen work triangle'. The idea is that these three elements are close enough so that they are easily accessible when carrying out kitchen tasks. In essence, you are optimising your kitchen layout.


Wheelchair-accessible worktops and cabinets

Update your worktops and cabinets to a height that suits your needs and enhances the independent use of your kitchen appliances. Worktops installed at different heights can make the kitchen accessible to all the family. Adjustable worktops are a good option, they can incorporate sinks and hobs, but they tend to be a little more expensive.


LIVING ROOM



Lights, socket-sockets and control switches

Placing switches and sockets at reachable heights is an easy way to make your electrical devices more accessible for you. Building Regulations Requirements state for new homes the height of switches, socket-outlets and controls should be between 45cm and 120cm from floor level; it is good practice to follow this requirement when refurbishing an older property.


Cover or hide cords

Hide the wires and cord behind your furniture or along the skirting boards to avoid tripping over them.


Spacing between furniture items

Arrange your furniture in a way that allows you to move around with either a wheelchair or walker.

The outdoors



Automatic garage door openers

Installing an automatic garage opener with remote control can be very helpful.

Driveway and path conditions