It’s safe to say that life can throw curveballs. Early last year, my partner and I were moving the last of our furniture into our first home together. The final piece to be installed was a giant (and very heavy) television cabinet, which we decided to carry up the stairs. Our first mistake. The second mistake was not deciding to tape the glass doors down. Why was this a bad idea? The doors (decided) to detach themselves, shattering to pieces upon impact and sliding around my partner’s feet – slicing through both Achilles tendons. Needless to say, he was wheelchair bound for two months, spending the following six months learning how to walk again. The hardest part of this way realising how frustrating it is to manoeuvre a wheelchair in a tiny and ill equipped space. Obviously our two month wheelchair stint can’t compare to a life bound to a chair, however it got me thinking: what would one need to make life in a chair more comfortable? Whether you need to re-arrange your home for a few months, or re-design your layout, here are some of the things to consider when making your home wheelchair friendly.
Widen your Doorways
The standard door frame featured in most houses isn’t usually wide enough to accommodate a thirty-two inch wheelchair. Luckily there are some fairly simple (and not so simple) things you can do to make navigating your way through a doorway much easier. You could consider replacing your existing hinges with offset hinges, allowing the door to open the door a further two inches or taking the door off completely and replacing it with a pocket style door.
Build a Ramp to the Main Entrances
Creating a wheelchair friendly home starts with the entry to the front door. Anyone who is using a wheelchair, cane, or crutches will very likely struggle when navigating the stairs leading up to their home, so for this reason, it’s really important that a ramp is installed. A contractor like Additions Building will be able to properly design and fit a ramp that’s suited to your home. Unless you have the expertise, this is not a job you should take on yourself.
If you are planning on a redesign of your home, it’s certainly worthwhile to remove all thresholds that contain a smaller bump. This will make it easier for a wheelchair to effortlessly transition into different areas of the home.
Ensure a Wide and Clear Pathway
To accommodate to the wheelchair, all pathways should be clear of any clutter, and awkwardly place furniture, to allow a safe passage.
Install Handrails and Grab Bars
You don’t need to be in a wheelchair to notice the benefits of installing a handrail, however, when you have limited mobility, handrails ensure safety for even the most basic of tasks. Handrails and grab bars can be installed in your bathroom near the toilet, bathtub and shower, as well as near the bed.
Place Frequently Used Items on your Countertops
Just because a member in your family uses a wheelchair, doesn’t mean they should have to lose their independence. Keep their frequently used items in a space where they can easily access them. This could include keeping your microwave, toaster, or blender on a low bench top instead of keeping them over the stove or in the cupboards.
Have you needed to change your home to a more wheelchair friendly environment? Leave your tips in the comment box below.