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Adapting a home for an individual living with limb loss.

The month of April is ‘Limb Loss Awareness Month’ which aims to raise awareness of limb loss and limb difference, and to support and encourage amputees as they build their independence through increased mobility.

We are experts in inclusive design, and design adapted and accessible homes for people and families living with disabilities. Our homes are designed to improve independence and reduce isolation.

When designing a home for a person following an amputation, we work closely with their care team, including their occupational therapist, who can assess and identify potential areas of difficulty that a person may encounter in their daily routines and suggest the adaptations required in the both the short term and the long term.

In this short article, we look at some of the key adaptations that can be made to a home to make it accessible and practical for a person living with limb differences or amputation.

Access in/out of the Home

Level access, railings and motion sensor lighting are basic adaptations that can be added to most homes to make them accessible for those living or learning to live with reduced or compromised mobility.

Ramps, non-slip flooring and widened doorways can also be installed for individuals who require assistive devices such as wheelchairs, crutches, walking sticks or frames or scooters.

Simple changes, such as installing door handles instead of doorknobs can also make a home more accessible for people living with upper limb differences or amputation.

Doors will need to be widened for wheelchair users, and handles on doors need to be within easy reach.

Accessible Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and during the design process, we ensure that we include an all-inclusive kitchen space that is functional and usable for a person living with limb difference or loss.

A kitchen needs to be fully wheelchair accessible, with features and equipment included to allow a person to independently use the room.

A standard kitchen worktop is too tall for most wheelchairs at 90cm, so low counters or adjustable worktops, sinks and hob units are often installed for ambulant and wheelchair users. Pull down shelving also makes items and equipment accessible and easy to reach.

There are various kitchen tools and equipment available for people who have suffered an amputation, including comfort grip utensils and tap turners.

Accessible Bathrooms

As with kitchens, there are many adaptations that can be made to a bathroom to make them safe to use.

Grab rails all around the room, including in the shower and around the toilet will support independent bathing and prevent the loss of balance, particularly for clients who are adapting to a new prosthesis.

Walk in showers, shower seats and transfer seats can also be added to bathrooms for anyone who is struggling with balance. In some case, bench seats are preferred in the shower area, to provide a “wet area” under the shower, and if the user, prefers, a “dry area” at the end of the bench for exiting/egressing the shower zone. To prevent slips and falls, non-slip flooring should be installed in the bathroom along with slip-resistant finishes in the shower and the bath.

With all the specialist equipment needed in the bathroom, storage is also needed both for practical reasons and for aesthetic purposes to keep things tidy and tucked away. Our clients often wish to maintain some form of normality of warm, welcoming environments, regardless of where it is in their home.

Accessible Bedrooms

As with the other rooms in the home, an accessible bedroom needs to have slip-resistant floors to prevent falls and aid balance. There also needs to be ample space for a wheelchair to move around.

There are many adjustable beds available that offer enhanced stability and make transferring it out and of bed safe and easy.

Simple features such as touch lamps and motion sensors make it easy to turn lights on and off and can be used with or without prosthetic devices.

Case Study

France+Associates have been instructed on a number of cases for persons who have lost limbs, as both Expert Witness to advise on accommodation requirements and preparing reports to Part 35 requirements, and in a “treating Architect” role, where we support the Client directly to adapt their home.

A recent such case brings us to Alice*, a construction professional working in the Manchester area and residing the outer districts.

Alice lives with her partner in a two storey detached property, within a leafy suburban area backing on to the Peak District. Alice and her partner have worked hard for their home, but unfortunately due to a recent RTA, Alice has suffered left lower limb loss.

France+Associates were instructed soon after the accident to work with the Case Manager and Occupational Therapist, to enable Alice within her home. We have been assisting Alice for some months now with a view to providing temporary adaptations to Alice’s home, before eventually, it will be part of her claim to purchase a permanent property, fully adapted to meet her current and future needs. 

Although access is now achievable to the first floor with a stairlift, there is still a requirement for improved access into the home, door widening, floor changes to make suitable for a wheelchair user, a home office, larger utility and ground floor toilet and a therapy space.

The first floor will be improved by providing an accessible en suite wet room. This will enable Alice to “finally sleep on the first floor”, as per her preference. 

For more information, you can contact our team on: admin@franceandassociates.co.uk, or 01484 960560.

 

*Name has been changed for confidentiality purposes

 

Support for those living with limb loss can be found at:
Limb Loss & Limb Difference UK
Blesma
Douglas Bader Foundation
Finding Your Feet
Limb Power
Limbless Association
Reach Charity
Steel Bones

 

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

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

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