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Adapting a home for the whole family

For Parent Mental Health Day (PMHD) 2022, we look at how an adapted home can benefit everyone in a family, particularly the parents or guardians of a child or young adult living with a disability.

What is Parent Mental Health Day?

PMHD was launched by stem4, to encourage understanding and awareness of the importance of parents’ mental health and its impact on the whole family system.

Designing an accessible home for the whole family

For parents caring for a child or young person with a disability, the impact can be profound.

In many cases, families face a daily fight on behalf of their child for appropriate care, suitable housing, financial difficulties, and in some circumstances, lengthy legal cases.

Last year, we discussed the affect that inadequate housing can have on disabled children and their families, with an investigation discovering that unsuitable properties were having a negative impact on peoples day-to-day lives.

Parents shared that they were unable to take their children outside due to a lack of level access, conditions were worsening, some families were facing extending stays in hospital, and in the worst cases, children were at risk.

Read our previous article in full here.

A well-equipped home can take away some of these pressures faced by parents and guardians and help them in raising their family.

When designing an accessible home, the team at France + Associates work closely with every member of the family, particularly the parents, to make sure everyone’s current and future needs are met. We are sensitive to each individual situation and can advise on the appropriate adaptations and features that can be added to a home, to allow a child or young person to live as independently as possible.

It is important when designing a home for a family, that nobody feels excluded from the process.

It’s a Family Affair

In most cases, a child or young person with a disability is likely to remain in the family home with their family, so it is important to design a home that can be shared by everyone.

Where possible, we create spacious, accessible and sociable family areas within the home, that enable families to cook, eat and spend time together.

By creating large, accessible spaces, extended family and friends can also visit the home. This can take away the pressures faced by parents when leaving the home with a disabled child, these can include level access to other people’s homes or public buildings, the need to travel with specialist equipment or having access to the right facilities.

Due to the pressures and worries faced by the families of disabled children, it is often the case that children and young people living with disabilities are more likely to spend time at home. This can leave them and their parents feeling isolated, particularly if they feel restricted by their home.

Adaptations that can improve or support a child living with a disability, include therapy rooms for ongoing, at home therapy sessions and rehabilitation, sensory rooms with a range of stimuli to provide a unique and stimulating experience, and safe play areas.

Hydrotherapy pools can also be installed in the home, and are perfect for rehabilitation, physical therapy and exercise. They can also be enjoyed by the whole family and give families the opportunity to spend time together in a warm pool without the need to travel to public pools that may not have hoist access, accessible changing rooms or maintain a sufficient temperature.

As well as adaptations within the home, we also consider changes that can be made to the exterior to create a safe environment. Secure, accessible sensory gardens directly off the house, allow children to play safely and independently, and can bring enormous peace of mind to parents.

By equipping homes with these spaces, children and young people can continue with therapy sessions at home without the need for their parents to take them away from their homes.

Separate rooms for parents and siblings to spend time alone in are also included in designs, to create a space for privacy, or a place for siblings to entertain friends away from the main areas of the home.

Location, location, location

When a child suffers an injury or an accident, many families find that their current home is no longer suitable for their needs. This can cause a huge level of stress and financial burden on some families who need to find suitable accommodation as quickly as possible.

During property searches, we consider the needs of the whole family, and how proximity to family, friends, carers, schools and care facilities will benefit everyone.

By staying close to the wider support network, the parents of children with disabilities can maintain a degree of normality, whilst having a nearby network of people who can help to provide the best possible care for their child.

Independence

A well-adapted home can have a huge positive impact on the whole family. By creating an inclusive and accessible home, parents often see an improvement in their child’s mental health, independence and confidence, which in turn will improve their own wellbeing, and reduce their stress levels.

By encouraging and facilitating independent living, parents may find that there is less reliance on them to provide the majority of care for their child, which not only reduces the pressures on them, but may even enable their child to live independently as an adult.

In these circumstances, homes can be future proofed to allow a child or young person to continue living there once they are old enough to live without the supervision of their parents. Carer’s accommodation is often included into the design of an adapted home, to enable a team of carer’s to provide 24-hour or ad hoc care, or in some cases, respite care to allow family members to take a much-needed holiday.

Our client, Al, currently lives at home with his parents and his brother. They hope that one day, he will live there independently. Building is due to start this spring, to adapt the home to include a home office and hydrotherapy pool for Al, to hopefully make this a possibility.

In a recent project, we adapted a bungalow for our client, Paul, who suffered catastrophic injuries in a road traffic accident. Unfortunately, Paul passed away before moving into the property. The team at France + Associates are currently reviewing the adaptations with Paul’s dad, John, to see if they can be altered to make the property suitable for him and his wife to move into.

For more information on adapted homes, or for a confidential chat, please contact our team on 01484 960560 / admin@franceandassociates.co.uk.

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

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