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Making Your Home Accessible: A Homeowner's Guide

March 6, 2017

Making Your Home Accessible: A Homeowner’s Guide

 

Last month, we created an infographic that highlighted the impending demand for accessible housing in New Zealand. By 2030, it is estimated that 800,000 Kiwis will have a disability that requires a modification to their home if they wish to remain in it. Right now, only 5% of homes in NZ are suitable for people with disability challenges. Given the low availability of accessible homes, we encourage you to consider making modifications to your  own home far before the need arises.

The LifemarkTM approach

We understand that it’s hard to think about getting older or having a disability when you are still young and healthy. But it’s better to think of it and plan for the future while you still have the option and flexibility. A good way to do this is by adapting or building a home to the LifemarkTM standard, which has been established to ensure the creation of homes that will accommodate homeowners as their needs change over the years. We are big believers in the LifemarkTM standard, which is why we went through the certification process to become a LifemarkTM Product Partner.

 

LifemarkTM “promotes and endorses well designed homes that are safe and easy to live in for everyone, regardless of age, stage or ability.” If you are interested in creating a home that will do this, we encourage you to check out the LifemarkTM Homeowner’s Guide, which explains their design principles and provides an overview of how they can be implemented in your home.

How to make your home accessible

Based on the suggestions provided by LifemarkTM, we have created a short guide to making your home accessible during all stages of life. While not a comprehensive approach to creating an accessible home, we hope this high-level guide will provide you with some useful discussion points when considering how to make your home accessible.

Entering your home

Starting from the outside of your house, consider how you will enter your home when you return from an outing.

 

  1. Is the parking area wide enough for everyone to get in and out of the car? You need to think about whether there would be space for a wheelchair to be pulled up alongside the car or whether a specialised van would have space to park.
  2. Is the path into the home slip resistant and well lit? Your goal should be to eliminate obstacles and minimise the risk of a fall.
  3. Is there a covered, level entry into the home? If possible, create an entryway that does not require stairs.
  4. If outdoor stairs are unavoidable, as they are in many properties in New Zealand, you may eventually need to consider installing one of our residential platform lifts to gain entry into your home.

 

Living areas

Once inside the home, think about how easy it is to move from room to room and spend time in your main living areas.

 

  1. Are hallways wide enough to accommodate wheeled devices? Are there stairs between hallways and rooms? Is lighting in hallways adequate?
  2. In the living areas, are light switches, electric outlets and door handles placed at a convenient height?
  3. Are floors slip resistant? Will it be easy to move a wheelchair across the floors?

Kitchen

A usable kitchen is a key requirement to remaining in the home. Kitchen modifications can greatly benefit you now and in the future.

 

  1. Is there room for everyone to move around in the kitchen?
  2. Is the dining area in the same room or close by?
  3. Are appliances, cupboards and drawers accessible?
  4. Is the sink within easy reach? Are taps easy to operate?

Bedrooms

Ideally, bedrooms will be located on the same floor as other key rooms in the home. If they are not, a stair lift can be installed to allow safe and easy access to upper floors of the home.

 

 

  1. Are the bedrooms large enough to accommodate wheeled traffic? Are doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs?
  2. Is there a direct path to the bed and easy access to the bathroom?
  3. Are outlets, light switches and door handles placed at a convenient height throughout the room?

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are another room of the house that consistently present problems when mobility issues are encountered. Modifications should be made to ensure at least one bathroom is accessible.

 

  1. Is the toilet accessible to everyone? Is there at least one bathroom located on the main living level?
  2. Is there a level-entry shower or space to create one when the need arises?
  3. Are basins at a convenient height? Are taps easy to operate?

Solutions for life

While these modifications may only seem useful in your later years, we truly believe that they benefit people of all ages. Families with young children can certainly benefit from wider hallways and safe walking surfaces. Kitchens that have been designed with accessibility in mind are actually more user-friendly for everyone! If you have any questions about modifying your home or installing one of our lifts, we encourage you to contact us today.  We are happy to help you brainstorm ideas to help make your home more accessible.

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