France + Associates France + Associates
Accessible homes for children and young people.

In our latest guest article, we speak with Denise Slack, Clinical Lead OT at JS Parker Ltd and her colleague, Helen Graham a specialist housing and equipment OT on what makes a house ‘work’ for a person.

When it comes to finding and adapting accessible homes for children and young people, there are a variety of factors that need to be considered. In our latest guest article we speak with Denise Slack, Clinical Lead Occupational Therapist at JS Parker Ltd, and her colleague, Helen Graham, a Specialist housing and Equipment Occupational Therapist at JSParker. We get their view on what makes a house ‘work’ for a person and how planning for the future, as well as the here-and-now, is key to success. 

No person should face any barriers to independence, whether that’s in their own home or in the wider world” says Denise Slack, OT Clinical Lead at JS Parker. “When supporting children and young people, our role is to act as facilitators in any way we can, and to make independence a reality.” 

When finding and adapting a house for a child, it’s important to remember that the child will become an adult, and with that comes changing needs. Whilst it is possible to subsequently move house, it’s more important to do everything possible to get it right from the outset. That includes having an eye on the long-term suitability of a location, or future-proofing the house so that it evolves to meet the changing needs of a person.

Our job is to know the person well, establish clear goals in order to predict and plan ahead, working alongside the architect to ensure our clients needs will be met.” 

Many of the children that we work with have complex neurological needs. Therefore, one important consideration is that new, accessible houses tend to be large, open plan and airy spaces. Open plan invariably means noisy, with echoey acoustics potentially leading to overstimulation. Ensuring there are cosy, warm and calm areas throughout the home is important to plan for.” 

Below are some of Helen’s key considerations when designing and building an accessible home for a child or young adult:

  1. Individual client and family goals – obtain a good quality brief from the outset
  2. Knowing our client’s functional ability both now and for the future
  3. Understanding the wider family needs
  4. Establishing local amenities and accessibility of venues such as shops etc
  5. Accessibility throughout the property and garden to promote independence and inclusion within activities of daily living
  6. Can the house adapt and grow with the person and their family/future needs – future proofing
  7. Consider control and safety i.e environmental controls, heat detectors, door entry systems etc 

Creating a community and way of life 

The success of a home is not just limited to its design and accessibility. Someone could have the most exquisitely designed and accessible home in an idyllic setting yet feel isolated and removed from the wider world.  

We take care to ensure that clients are building a house where they can feel part of the community’. says Denise. “This is an integral part of our work with children, young people and their families. The community that they are part of, and proximity to venues and facilities that enrich their lives is just as important as the design of their home. Considering everything from their school, to where they can gain access to their hobby, whether that’s fishing or a music group. You could say that we design their house around their life!” 

When finding the right home for someone, the location is extremely important. For example, if it’s going to take someone an hour and a half to get to their favourite beach, or the house is located too far from the university they want to attend, or their favourite café, then the reality is that it is unlikely to ‘work’ for that individual, however perfect the house itself might be. 

“We love working with France + Associates because they totally understand the importance of wellbeing and social aspects of a house” adds Helen. “They have the soft skills required to deliver the results that we, and our clients are looking for.  They bring an emotional intelligence to the whole process of designing and building inclusive homes; this makes them stand out to us.” 


JS Parker offer assessmentcase managementoccupational therapytraining and expert witness services for complex care needs across the Midlands, the North of England, and Scotland. Their aim is to support our clients through the rehabilitation and litigation processes, maximising independence and quality of life.

For more information visit or call 0114 229 0100

For more information, contact us on
01484 960560 or email us +

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