Adapting a House for a Wheelchair User
Wheelchair users face complications when they're out and about, struggling to shop or to make use of public transport. Your home should feel like a safe haven - somewhere that's designed for you and a place in which you can relax - even if public spaces aren't always suitable for you and your wheelchair.
But when you're in a new house that isn't already adapted, how can you make low-cost changes to adapt your house quickly and easily
Ground Floor Accommodation
Installing a lift or suitable stair lift can be time-consuming and costly, but also quite inconvenient. Not all houses have the space for such adaptations. Many wheelchair users find it easier to have everything they need on the ground floor, with level access to their bedroom and a bathroom, the kitchen and a living space.
If you're looking for a new house, consider focusing on how much space is available downstairs rather than on how you can make any upper floors accessible. In your existing home, see if an extension or conversion might be a more suitable alternative to accessing upper floors.
Unless you've been inconvenienced in the past, it's often easy to forget that work surfaces are typically built for someone that is able to stand. If you're in a wheelchair, preparing food can be particularly difficult. High cupboards and work surfaces that are designed for those that can stand make time in the kitchen frustrating.
Lowering work surfaces can help someone in a wheelchair to be as independent as possible. Remember that it's not always about the height, however. Under-counter cupboards can be a barrier, whilst space underneath a counter will provide a room for a wheelchair to roll into place so that the tops of counters can be reached.
You might think to install a grab rail in the shower or bath, but you can put them wherever you need them. Grab rails are cheap and easy to install, making them one of the best home adaptations for wheelchair users.
A vast majority of grab rails are used as permanent fixtures, screwed into the wall, but it's also possible to buy grab rails with suction cups that you can carry with you for use wherever you are - at home, or away whilst on holiday or visiting relatives.
Reachers and Grabbers
Reachers and grabbers can be used by those in wheelchairs to pick things up from the floor, or alternatively to reach things that would otherwise be out of reach. Hold a reacher or grabber to extend your reach so that something that you've dropped need not be out of reach until you can ask for help.
These tools aren't just useful for reaching things that are further away. Many people with limited arm strength find that using a reacher or a grabber enables them to grip things that they otherwise wouldn't be able to.
Cut Your Costs and Lower Your Expenses
Bear in mind that you're not necessarily alone if you need to adapt your home. Grants and emergency funds might be available to cover some of the costs.
Speak to the relevant people about disabled facilities grants and other similar financial support and you might find that you're able to make vital changes to your house without depleting your own bank balance.