Adapting your home for disability

What we can do for you...

The Core of what we do...

what we know

We are specialists in adaptations for disabled people.
Majority of our works are transferring standard bathrooms to walk in showers (Wet Rooms) as that is main and most important requirement for disabled person.
Find below more information what else we can do for you and what you should know before you decide to go ahead with your project.

Disability Assessment - Professional Assessment

The domestic requirements for people living with a disability should always be assessed by a professional, usually via an Occupational Therapist (OT) from a Hospital or Social Services.
This is particularly important when a person is about to come home from hospital for the first time and they need adaptations, such as grab rails or half-steps.
Occupational Therapists (OTs) are the most qualified people to give advice, and can even offer assistance with planning the adaptation and liaising with architects and other professionals if required.
If the changes that need to be made are extensive, it is likely that you will have to wait longer to have them approved and carried out.
 

Bathroom - Disability Adaptation

It's very important to adapt the bathroom so that whatever disability a person has, they can use the room as independently as possible.
These changes are helpful for many conditions and include but are not limited to:

  • walk in shower
  • a hand-held shower facility
  • grab rails for the shower or bath
  • non-slip flooring
  • an extractor fan to keep the bathroom clear of steam


 

Adapting Bath and Shower

If space allows, you might also want to consider including a hoist to allow someone with poor mobility to be gently lowered into the bath.
Alternatively, there are baths available with doors for easy access and showers can be specially built to cope with wheelchairs.
Some shower cubicles can even be created to cater for both showering and going to the toilet, if they are fitted with a special macerator that gets rid of the waste. This can be particularly helpful in areas where space is tight.

 

Hot Water

You must ensure that there is an even water temperature to prevent scalding accidents.
It is possible to fix the temperature to a certain range so that no one can be hurt.

Consider installing a thermostatic or electric shower.

 

Adapting Toilet

It is usually easy to buy adaptations to raise the toilet seat to a required level.
This might be just a second seat to go on top, or a frame that can be put over the toilet to ensure it is the right height for the disabled person.

The best option is to install specially designed for disabled people raised toilet.

 

Adapting Kitchen for Disability

Kitchens often require considerable work to ensure they are safe and to retain a disabled person's independence. The good news is there are many ingenious solutions that can help people to stay in their own home. But there are a huge number of different ways to adapt a kitchen, so the choices can be bewildering.
First look at reducing the danger zone areas, such as cookers and gas appliances. Then consider height adaptation to some of the kitchen areas so that a wheelchair user or a visually impaired or deaf person can prepare snacks and food for him or herself.
Some of the adaptations that are required either prevent accidents happening or buy valuable time if something does go wrong, in the event of a fire, for instance.
These adaptations include:

  • keeping the area well lit
  • unplugging all appliances after use
  • fitting a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm - and testing them weekly
  • buy special vibrating pads or flashing lights for people who can't hear
  • removing any obstacles, such as low coffee tables or rugs
  • having a fire extinguisher and blanket to hand
  • keeping any knives or kitchen utensils safely out of the way
  • installing covers for areas like the cooker hob, such as a cooker guard
  • positioning a washing machine and dishwasher for easy reach; a top-loading washing machine or tabletop dishwasher might be useful

 

Cooker

Choose a cooker that can be left on at little risk and is easy to clean. For example, a halogen hob that isn't hot when touched, rather than a gas hob or oven.
Microwaves are handy but can be dangerous for people with dementia who may not remember they shouldn't put any metal inside.
Built-in ovens at just the right height, with a drop down door that can be used as an extra shelf if required, are an excellent way of helping people to be independent, while not impacting on anyone else in the home.

 

Work Surface for Wheelchair User

Adaptations can be made to the height of units and appliances to limit the amount of bending down required, or to allow wheelchair usage.
A guideline for wheelchair users is to place a worktop at 10cm below the elbow.
However, there are many different types of wheelchairs, so it is best to get the individual and the kitchen measured by an expert to work out the best dimensions for height and depth.
There are also adjustable height shelves and tabletop cookers available.

 

Disability Aids

There are lots of handy devices and tips that can make a real difference to disabled people in everyday life:

  • corner carousels can be really useful to help you find things easily without too much bending and twisting
  • pull-out worktops and foldaway ironing boards can make it simpler to use the kitchen
  • mobile trolleys provide easy-to-access storage
  • easy-to-use handles - small or slippery knobs can cause difficulties
Choose matt surfaces to avoid reflective glare for the partially sighted and think carefully about the type of taps you want, and their position.
They don't have to be at the back of the sink. Levers rather than screw taps can be easier to use.
There are also taps available for those that have a weak grip or that can be turned on and off at floor level.
In addition there is an option for adaptations that can be fitted to your existing taps to make them easier to use.

 

Flooring - Disability Adaptations

Getting the right type of flooring is vital to avoid trips and falls and to help people feel confident in their own home.
Different surfaces suit different people - the needs of someone who uses a wheelchair are quite separate from someone with impaired vision, so we have suggested the best type of flooring for some of the most common disabilities.

Best type of flooring for different disabilities

Type of Disability Type of flooring required Example
Blind Easy to hear people coming Well-laid laminate or timber, at a consistent level
Dementia Pattern free Carpets, vinyl (all plain), at a consistent level
Hard of hearing/deaf Ease of cleaning if they have a hearing dog Vinyl or laminate flooring
Poor mobility on legs Easy to see, seamless, non-slip Well-laid laminate, vinyl, carpet
Wheelchair Easy to use and durable, seamless Well-laid timber, laminate or vinyl

 

Disability - Access Inside Your Home

Once in the home, people should be able to move around easily, from room to room and ideally upstairs and down.
It is important to reduce the number of floor level changes as much as possible, using ramps where necessary.
For those in a wheelchair, keep corridors free of any clutter and, if possible, allow a clear width of 90cm for people to pass.
For those that need help moving around, either provide a walking aid or a grab rail for support on steps or beside a bath/toilet where transfers need to take place.
Fit handrails at a height that suits the individual - get an assessment from a professional such as an Occupational Therapist (OT Assessment).
These are normally fitted where there are steps, or at convenient places around the home that allow the person to rest as they move around.

Stairs - stair lifts and handrails
If you have enough space, the best way to adapt the home is often to provide everything the person with disabilities needs downstairs.
If this isn't possible, then there are lots of ways of making the stairs safer:

  • add handrails to provide support
  • ensure the carpets on the stairs are completely secure to reduce the risk of trips and falls
  • check that the lighting is good enough to be able to see each step

Alternatively, consider adding a stair lift or lift.
There are two main types of stair lift - those you can sit on and those that have a plate for you to stand on.
A specialist will come and fit one for you.

Doorways
For most people in a wheelchair, it's easier to manage a doorway opening rather than a door itself, or at least a sliding door - opening doors with handles can be difficult.
Doorways need to be at least 75cm wide to allow access for a wheelchair.
Make sure that any steps within the doorway are minimised. This can be done by using mini ramps so that there is less likelihood of getting stuck or tipping over.
It is also worth attaching kick plates onto the doorframes so that less damage is caused by the inevitable knocks and bumps.
Attaching kick plates to doorframes reduces the damage caused by wheelchairs.
For someone who is mobile but needs help moving around the home, then it is essential that the doorway is wide enough to get two people through at a time. This may be a standard 75cm width or more, but again get a proper assessment done to see if it's worth widening.
If you are looking after someone with dementia, you need to think about how you can secure - or leave open - doorways.
In some circumstances, it may be better to have a lock on doors to certain rooms such as basements.
It is also important to check doors that are self-shutting or lockable, as these can be confusing for people with dementia.
They can get scared and shut in, sometimes trying to find another way out, such as through the window, which can be dangerous.
Try to avoid locks on the outside of internal doors as people with dementia can accidentally lock their carer in.

 

Disability Access - Ramps

Make sure ramps are not too steep.
Simply getting in and out of many houses can be difficult for people with limited vision, poor mobility or dementia.
Most homes have steps to external doors. You'll need to think about access from the front and back of the property for everyday use and in case of an emergency such as a fire.
If you or your family member has limited mobility or poor vision, try to create either a permanent or portable ramp to the front door. When creating a ramp, make sure it is at the right gradient and not too steep. You will also need to consider having resting places on longer ramps for wheelchair users who are self-propelling.
Ramps should also have a non-slip surface with a 10cm up stand to all exposed edges to help prevent the wheels going over the edge.
Handrails are helpful. The width of the ramp is also an important consideration, especially if a turn is to be included.
There must be a 1.2sqm landing platform at the top and bottom. A slightly ribbed surface can help people to get up the ramp more easily. Gradients for a ramp to get over a height less than 2m are recommended to be 1:15 and nothing less than 1:12, even for portable structures.
So if you have a height of 15cm to overcome, you should be considering a ramp that is about 2.25m long.
If this isn't possible, you can go less than this if required - but it really depends on the level of disability and how difficult it is to get into the property. If in doubt, get professional advice.
A ramp is also helpful for anyone on crutches, who uses a walking frame, is unstable on their feet or with poor sight or dementia. Of course, they may not need the gradient required for wheelchairs, but taking away the danger of falling is paramount.

 

Top Tips for Adapting Your Home

Whatever anyone's disability, here are some simple adaptations that will make a big difference:

  • make rooms as light as you can - and ensure lighting levels are consistent throughout the home
  • fit long-lasting bulbs that don't need changing as often
  • decorate with light colours, using a matt rather than a shiny finish
  • use decor to highlight areas where there are obstructions or a change in level
  • fit smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, preferably with alarms or other devices to grab attention.

 

Funding for Disability Adaptations

Either Social Services or your local Environmental Health Department may be able to offer you a disabled facilities grant, which can be up to £30,000 per home for necessary home improvements, however your income and savings have to be means tested to deem whether you can afford it yourself or not.
For more information on grants, visit www.direct.gov.uk or contact your local authority.
Some work, such as installing ramps or a lift between floors, can be done at zero-rated VAT.
This can save 20% on the cost.
If you employ someone who is not aware of this, make sure you get the information you require so that you can reduce any costs you might have to pay out. Visit www.hmrc.gov.uk for more information on VAT issues.
It is worth thinking about what will happen if you are likely to move at any time. If you are staying where you are, then make the changes you need with the best material you can afford, such as concrete for wheelchair ramps. If, however, you know you will be moving, it could be better to fit wooden ramps that can be easily removed.

 

Guarantee and Insurance

All our works are fully insured and guaranteed.

A guarantee will form a part of contract between us and you.
In some circumstances you will receive a separate, written guarantee on project completion, covering all subjects of our services we have provided for you.

Please note that our guarantee covers usually labour only as material and all the fittings are subject to manufacturer's guarantees.

 

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