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An Accessible Home – How to Create One

Ease of access at home is vital for people living with disability. These simple additions and modifications can help you create the accessible home you deserve.

A safe and comfortable home is a basic right for all people. When you are living with a disability, it is often the little things that improve the ease of use, comfort and security of your home.  

Plenty of Australians require some additional assistance around the house. The Australian Bureau of Statistics states that more than 50% of people aged over 60 live with some form of disability. And we all know many under that age are living with disability too, from birth onwards.

Add to the mix Australia’s ageing population and our increased lifespan, and chances are most homes will, at some stage, need to become more accessible.

If you are unable to design and build an accessible home from the ground up, you can make an existing home more accessible. In this blog article, we show you a little of how that can be achieved.

Funding support for an accessible home

If your home requires modifications and products to make it more suitable to your needs, you may be able to access funding.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provides home equipment and support funding to eligible participants. Different programs attend to different needs.

The NDIS Home Modifications program provides assistance when changes are required to the structure, layout and fittings of your home. These changes are designed to help you access your home and move around safely.

The NDIS Assistive Technology program funds equipment you may need to help you with everyday tasks around the home.

To discover more national and state-based funding options and information providers that can help improve the accessibility of your home, click here.

Looking to access the NDIS? We break down the steps here.

Tips and products for a more accessible home

Moving from room to room, here are our top tips and product ideas to make your home more accessible.

Accessible home entry ideas

Entering the home safely is vital for people living with disability. Here are some ideas to improve the accessibility of your home’s entry area.

  • Motion sensor lighting. This is a great idea not only at the driveway and/or front door, but throughout the house to eliminate the need to access light switches.
  • Directional lighting on pathways. Light the way to the front door by installing lights outside that shine on the path rather than the user – much more effective.
  • Portable ramps. Many homes have a step or two near the front entryway. Portable ramps help you to navigate these in a wheelchair or mobility scooter and can make life easier for those who are unsteady on their feet (depending on the incline). Ramps are available in a range of lengths and widths.
  • Non-slip mats. If you don’t need a ramp but could use extra stability on steps, non-slip matting is a great idea.
  • Disability-friendly doorbell. Consider a doorbell with a two-way intercom feature so you can communicate with guests if you are unable to get there quickly. For the hearing impaired, some doorbells offer a flashing strobe light feature
  • Clear overhanging branches and plants. These are an unnecessary hazard that may impede safe access to the door.
  • Door handle gripper. Get in your front door with greater ease using a contraption like this. These are handy – pardon the pun – all throughout the house.

For our tips on getting from your car to your wheelchair safely, check out this article.

Accessible living room ideas

Your living room is where you relax and unwind. A few simple adjustments can help you enjoy your living space more.

  • Remove rugs and carpet. These can be difficult to move around on when you are using a wheelchair or walker and can function as a tripping hazard for people with balance issues. If possible, replace carpet with a hard surface flooring option.
  • Space around furniture. Consider the layout of your room, providing ample space to safely move around furniture. Official guidelines state a minimum of 2250mm diameter circulation space is ideal for wheelchair manoeuvrability.
  • Pressure cushions. Take the pain out of those prolonged work-from-home, internet cruising and/or Netflix sessions with a pressure cushion. They are designed to suit a range of different furniture surfaces and physical ailments. Get started here.
  • Power point placement. A minimum of four double power point outlets is recommended in a living room. This removes the need for long trailing power cords, which can be a trip hazard. Power points should ideally be placed 600mm above the floor.
  • Multiple TV antennae outlets. A minimum of two is ideal to avoid long trailing cords. These, too, should be positioned at least 600mm above the floor. 
  • Big button universal remote control. Larger buttons help with vision and dexterity, while universal control lets you operate multiple devices, lights and even power points (see next item). Less fuss, less fumbling.
  • Remote-controlled power points. These gadgets let you turn electronic equipment like lamps and fans on and off at the power point with the flick of a switch. They can sometimes be rigged to be controlled by a universal remote.

an accessible home needs enough space for a wheelchair

Accessible kitchen ideas

The kitchen is the heart of any home. These tricks and gadgets can help make yours work better for you.

  • Lower height countertops or kitchen island. This allows wheelchair users to comfortably access workspaces. Ideally, at least one kitchen workspace should enable a user to slide their knees under the bench to comfortably chop and prepare food. Some kitchen systems even offer heigh adjustable benchtops and islands.
  • Height adjustable cupboards and shelves. This makes cabinetry flexible to suit the needs of a range of users. 
  • Well-spaced appliances. Position the stove top close to the sink so it is easy to strain things like pasta or rice. Similarly, the oven should be located close to an accessible benchtop so dangerously hot items do not have to be carried far. 
  • Kettle tipper. Make a cup of tea more safely with this handy contraption. There are plenty on the market, and this is a good place to start as any.
  • Custom utensils. From one-handed can openers, to angled knives, vegetable peelers, jar openers and chopping boards, there are plenty of disability-friendly kitchen utensils on the market. Get started here.
  • Reaching aid. Grab items around the kitchen (and indeed anywhere in the house) with greater ease using a reaching / grabbing aid.

Accessible bedroom ideas

The bedroom is where we go to rest and retreat from the world. To feel as safe and secure in your bedroom as possible, try these tricks.

  • Adjustable bed. These allow you to adjust the height and/or back rest elevation of your bed. They are also available in double bed options to stay cosy with your loved one, with each side independently adjustable.
  • Drop-down bed rail. For added security while you are dreaming sweetly, a bed rail can help keep you safe and sound. 
  • Overbed lifting aid. Get in and out of bed with greater ease and safety with the inclusion of a lifting aid.
  • Memory foam mattress. These can help greatly with stiff, painful joints.
  • Personal alarm. From floor and bed mats with sensors to wearable pendants, personal alarm systems send for help should you fall without another home occupant noticing.

Accessible bathroom ideas

With wet, slippery and hard surfaces, the bathroom can be one of the most dangerous rooms in the house. Here are some ideas to make it safer.

  • Non-slip mats. These can be placed on the floor, in the shower and in the bath, making wet, slippery surfaces safer.
  • Toilet safety frame. When nature calls, a safety frame makes things that much easier and more comfortable.
  • Grab rails. These are a good idea throughout your house, but especially in the bathroom where slipping is more likely. Get started here.
  • Shower stools. Allowing you to sit comfortably in the shower, shower stools and chairs mean you can relax and unwind. Choose a heavy duty stool with side rails for increased stability. And there are plenty of portable ones there too, for greater safety when travelling and staying in accommodation.
  • Long arm shower aid. Clean yourself without having to bend and contort in the shower, with a device like this.

Protect yourself at home – and your equipment, too

As you can see, improving your comfort and safety at home can be simple with a few additions and modifications. But even with support in place, accidental damage can occur to your wheelchair or mobility scooter.

Make sure your important gear is safeguarded both at home and when you’re out and about. Check out Blue Badge’s affordable insurance policies here. We’ve got your back, so you can relax and unwind at home.

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