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Making your House Accessible

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 16 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Making Your House Accessible

It's becoming more common for house renovations to be made to allow a disabled member of the family to live at home more comfortably. As medical advances continue people are living longer and not succumbing to diseases and ailments that previously would have ended in premature death or being confined to a residential care centre.

Introduction to House Renovation for Disabled Access

In this series of articles in this section we will be looking at the advances in technology and equipment that help people live in a house. Of course it's difficult to make recommendations for modifications to a house that are going to help every person because there are so many different ways that people can be affected by various conditions. In this article we will endeavour to give an introduction to the techniques that will make day-to-day living easier for many people.

Surprisingly the renovation of houses to allow people to stay in them longer is supported by the government. The Department of Work and Pensions published a report on independent living in the summer of 2007.

Government Support for Independent Living

This recognised that the cost of modifying a house to allow independent living for longer are far outweighed by the savings to the national health that arise from keeping people out of sorely-pressed residential care homes. It would also lower costs associated with having day care delivered to people's homes.

It was also recognised that enabling people to live independently has a beneficial affect on those individuals as well. However, changing the way that healthcare is assessed and delivered is not going to be a quick process and the report called for more analysis. If that process is followed to its logical conclusion then there should be more government money made available to fund modifications to a house to allow people to live in their homes for longer.

Existing grants for modifications of this kind are discussed in a separate article in this section.

From Wheelchair Access to Technology and Communications

There are three very broad categories of house renovation that can be helpful to disabled and elderly people:

  • Modifications to the fabric of a house to allow easier navigation
  • Installation of fixtures and fittings to a house that are more accessible
  • Use of technology in a house to make communicating and living easier

The first category includes widening of doorways and possibly removing the doors themselves or switching to sliding doors, installing ramps and other facilities that allow access for wheelchairs and turning space. Then there are shifts in the configuration of a house such as moving a bathroom downstairs, or making the house more open plan.

The second category covers fitments that make things in the house easier to operate, from long handles on taps to full blown accessible bathroom and kitchens; really the sky is the limit once you start looking at what's available in these areas.

The final category involves technological areas like intercoms and videophone entry systems, now becoming commonplace, through communications devices that can keep someone in touch with a care centre, to more cutting edge solutions where technology can help someone make use of computers to do things for them.

Cost Conscious Ideas for Access and Flexibility

Throughout this series of articles we will endeavour to focus on simple and cost effective solutions but also cover the newer (and therefore, unfortunately more expensive) options beginning to come onto the market.

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