Features of your home that make life easier — Scope | Disability forum
Find out how to let us know if you're concerned about another member's safety.

Features of your home that make life easier

laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering

I'm currently planning some renovations to my house and so want to take this opportunity to introduce as many features that will make my life easier as someone with limited mobility, but will also be beneficial for people with different needs as far as possible. I'm aiming for a universal design kind of approach.

My physical mobility is deteriorating and so I'm likely to need to use my wheelchair more often in the future. So it would be really helpful if anyone could share with me some tips about how to set up my home with wheelchair use in mind. I'm most likely to be using a manual wheelchair inside, and my Mum who will be visiting (once we actually have an accessible house!) uses a powerchair.

I've been thinking about things like pocket-doors, roll-up kitchen cabinet doors, a shallower kitchen sink etc.

What are the things around your home that make life easier for you?


  • steve51
    steve51 Member Posts: 7,154 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @laura222

    Good Afternoon & Welcome it’s great to meet you today ?

    I’m one of the Community Champion’s here at Scope.

    I am very very happy in helping you with your current project.

    My current house is fairly old & very small.

    I currently use ramps over the door frames.

    We had a stairlift fitted some years back.

    There was talk off having a “Through Floor Lift” but that was too expensive in the end.

    Please please let me know if you need any further help??????


  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,072 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi and welcome to the community, as a full time wheel chair user I live in a bungalow which obviously helps but other things I find useful or things i find difficult as as below

    Laminate flooring throughout much easier for getting about and also easy to clean

    Worktop height , needs to be lower than normal, and obviously cupboard height, oven well positioned

    Anything that can be remote control operated eg lights, curtains

    Wet room or a shower can sit in chair and also bath lift if have a both

    Contact local council about assisted bin collection

    Cant think of anything elser at moment will add later if I think of anything
  • christian96
    christian96 Posts: 101 Connected
    Walk in shower

  • laura222
    laura222 Member Posts: 84 Pioneering
    Thanks very much, these are great to know. I'm looking in to how I can get some different levels of worktops in the kitchen since I'm sometimes standing, sometimes wheelchairing.

    Laminate flooring is a good tip @janer1967 - thanks!
  • leeCal
    leeCal Member Posts: 5,062 Disability Gamechanger
    edited July 2020
    A friend of mine had his doorways widened, bit expensive though to be honest. Also raised electrical wall sockets.
    (Should be done before laminate flooring)

    “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

    ― Dalai Lama XIV
  • Chloe_Scope
    Chloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,557 Disability Gamechanger
    I have an Alexa. It can be linked up to lights and plugs which can make it all voice activated. :)

  • steve51
    steve51 Member Posts: 7,154 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @laura222

    Yes I have also got Alexa but sill trying to get my head around it.

  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 741 Pioneering
    Its a good while since I was on top of this. Research is your best bet. Habinteg began the design of accessible  housing. Other, notably Greenwich, improved, e.g. not settling for the building standards  idea of wheelchair  accessible  doors, because  many people need bariatric, or become in need of frequently  going in and out on a trolley or possibly a reclined chair due to spine etc.

    You are right to think of different working surfaces.  That is a typical  example  of where councils, for instance,  have a one size fits all tickbox, lamentably for ugly institutional grab rails under the heading of aid and adaption grants. One woman in a council house was appalled when, ignoring her protests, council workmen ripped out all the lower cupboards,  the only ones she could reach. They told her  that,  because she used a wheelchair,  she needed to get it under all the worktops!!

    At disability  exhibitions, there are kichens to dream of, but too dear, and mainly not really   necessary.  The point someone has made, getting everything automated, is good. Bear in mind if you have spells in bed, you want bed to be the best room in the house, but also you want every door and light and curtain control and all your tech to be there. Make sure if you have any electrical  work, the electrician at the same time provides extra capacity at the consumer unit, so if in future you are running twenty times more electrical  gadgets than other users, you won't  overload.

    One thing is try and think ahead,  in case things change. Another I'm keen on is, every chance there is, use floor to ceiling windows or glass doors, with balconies, especially where there's a view either of the garden or the street, but in any case to allow through- draughts in heatwaves and light from all angles.. Spending lots of time indoors makes natural daylight and not feeling imprisoned important.   Often, people are sitting down or even  lying down.  It's  no use to them if they need to stand by the window to see out.  For the same reason,  balconies should be see through.  Every possible  window or glass door is best to have some way to put plants outside, plus squirrel proof  bird feeders. 

    The silly thing is, almost everything that makes a place sensible  for disability  also makes it perfect for everyone else. E.g. who hates daylight and loves poky high up mean little windows? Nobody but builders.   Who loves the most narrow doors, so a mum with a twin buggy can't  get in, nor can the furniture removals, or the ambulance stretcher crew,? Nobody but builders.   

    Theres a lot else, such as figuring turning circles,  and ideally doing away with radiators because they take up space and get bashed  (Never have them under windows of course.  That suits nobody but builders.)   A secure porch can be useful where a muddy wheelchair can wait, and an electric one can charge, but not insecure or in the view of anyone who might try stealing it of course. 
  • woodbine
    woodbine Community Co-Production Group Posts: 7,133 Disability Gamechanger
    No stairs in our home of 9 years, when we visit our daughter she lives in an old terrace house and the stairs are like ladders . :)
    Be extra nice to new members.
  • Adrian_Scope
    Adrian_Scope Posts: 8,552

    Scope community team

    Hi @laura222. We had some blogs on this last year that might be of interest to you, including: Our house just the way we like it where Sandra shows her 'passion for contemporary accessible living; showing everyone that an adapted home doesn’t have to look like a nursing home or an institution.'

    A photograph of an adapted bathroom
    Community Manager

    Tell us how to make the community better for you. Complete our feedback form.
  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 741 Pioneering
    Ooooh that's brilliant thanks Adrian.  Not institutional  at all. 
    I did once do a ramp as a sort of garden design feature forming a circle where the centre was gravel for parking, the corners  were planting, and the front path swept in a gentle slope so it took the entire garden  and most of the side of the house, to reach the side entrance and avoid two steps. 

    One thing I would consider is avoiding the institutional look in just the way shown for the bathroom.   There is a chrome rail to double as what looks  like  a  a decorative  feature plus towel rail,  but it also  does  work as  a continuous grab rail.        Elsewhere  in the house, it's  possible  to have something  similar, but instead  of a rail, which might look institutional, having the 'grab' be part of a narrow  continuous shelf,  as  something to lean on, for 'furniture walkers'
     i.e. people who need a bit of support and a bit of reassurance about balance.   The way it works is a cross between  those Victorian dado rails that  ran round every room, at elbow height, and a shallow  boxed in radiator  .   It looks like,  and can be,  concealed cupboards, or concealed wiring and ducting and heating and lighting.  

    Ceiling lights are a  big thing to consider  banning, for o.p. and for anyone re-designing with an electrician.   When the bulb or shade or fitting need changing or even cleaning,  someone  must climb a step-ladder.  That cannot  make  sense.  Ideally  avoid even ordinary conventional wall lights,  if it is inaccessible or fiddly or needs tools.    One thing to consider is full spectrum daylight bulbs in living rooms, so on gloomy winter days you get your own sunshine.   I have used extremely cheap standard lamps  from argos so I can change the position and combination for different  effects, but cleaning or changing  bulbs is easy by just leaning them over to the right level.  But the  cheapest full spectrum is a bulb that fits into an ordinary neon strip light fitting placed on top of the ordinary  fitted kitchen units.  It does mean  someone  has to climb up to put it there, but it doesn't  need to be an electrician,  and  those bulbs seem to last forever. 
  • Topkitten
    Topkitten Member Posts: 1,285 Pioneering
    Probably everything has been covered but this is what I would need (some of which I have).......

    Wet room (for showering) but some things vary from person to person so you need an assessment.

    Elbow operated toilet.

    Widened doorways with large easy handles on the correct side.

    Some way to negotiate stairs (if you have them).

    All sockets and light switches moved to mid range height.

    Shelves at mid range height.

    Lower kitchen worktops and more mid range height storage.

    If you can transfer then possibly an electric riser recliner and electric bed, if not then a hoist or two.

    Something to collect mail and keep it a reachable height.

    There are other complications such as the type of light fittings, my place has a strip light in the kitchen which I'd have had trouble with when healthy. Fortunately the Council changed it for me (I live in a council bungalow). I have an outside light that I can't use because the bulb went and the Council wouldn't touch it. So you need to have access to someone to do this sort of job and other jobs if things break down. Simple things sometimes like changing clock batteries, lol! Other things might be needed if you have pets.

    None of this stuff is cheap though and although I should be moved I get some of the stuff done thrown back at me as "how they have tried to help". I can't move (even though I have a report saying this place is inappropriate) because I cannot follow the moving procedures and I haven't been confined in hospital long enough for them to override the system.

    Hope this helps and if I think of anything else I'll add it later.

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.
  • newborn
    newborn Member Posts: 741 Pioneering
    Tk has added good points.  Don't  forget if theres a chance a person may want two  wheel-chairs, one for indoors, there needs to be a way to transfer,  alone If its a side to side, that needs considering  in plans for storing and charging electric chairs. 

     Loo transfer has similar problems,  if someone  cannot stand independently.    Loos are mega important.   The Japanese often  fit all singing all dancing automatic  wash/ dry loos, as standard. That beings prices down.   But even if it costs a lot, the outlay to achieve  independence  in the loo may be worthwhile. 

    P.S TK, as often, Im a bit cross on your behalf.   For heavens sake the council has the public duty and the  service  provider duty and the landlord duty, regarding things like your faulty outside  light. For safety, you need your outside light to be functioning.  As a reasonable adjustment,  they should help you, unlike other tenants who are  non disabled . They can legitimately  be told to climb a ladder.  You can't. 
  • Topkitten
    Topkitten Member Posts: 1,285 Pioneering
    Thanks @newborn but our council is mostly unhelpful which is why I recently got a phone call from my Housing Officer after I chased up an inquiry in which he was supposed to call me and didn't. His words were "Stop calling us and wasting our time". I kid you not.

    "I'm on the wrong side of heaven and the righteous side of hell" - from Wrong side of heaven by Five Finger Death Punch.


Complete our feedback form and tell us how we can make the community better.