France + Associates France + Associates
Architecture for Independence.

Designing and creating an accessible home that enables a person to live as independently as possible, means tailoring the design to their specific needs.

For anyone adapting or building their own home, they have the unique opportunity and the flexibility (for the most part) to include features, equipment, and technology, that they need immediately and may require in the future.

For an individual and their family who are living with a disability, such as a brain injury, spinal cord injury or amputation, the chance to create a fully accessible home that is future proofed, enables independence and ongoing rehabilitation can greatly improve their quality of life.

At France and Associates, we always include the individual and their loved ones in the design of their home, to ensure it meets their needs entirely. And that includes the kids! In our most recent project, the client is 11-year-old Elan, and she is going to be instrumental throughout the entire design and build process – it is her home after all!

In many cases, when a home is being adapted to meet the needs of individuals, occupational therapists, cases managers, and carers will also visit the property to make recommendations that will determine the work that needs to be carried out.

In this article, we look at the top 5 things people ask for when designing an accessible home:

Storage

Storing a wheelchair is a key part of the design process, particularly as it’s commonplace for clients to own more than just one chair. We’ve seen a rise in clients with all-terrain wheelchair for off-road use, which means ample storage is important.

We tend to place the storage near to the front door to limit the amount of dirt coming into the home and ensure there is room outside, such as in an accessible garage for off-roading chairs.

Internally, we also include places to ‘park’ wheelchairs when not in use, such as at night time or when the individual is using the bathroom. We always ensure there are plenty of ‘parking spots’ around the home so the wheelchair can be moved out of the way where necessary.

Clients invariably require storage for other pieces of equipment and medical supplies which can sometimes be bulky.

Access

Being able to move in and around the home and have fantastic access to every room is crucial for our clients.

Widened doorways and hallways make it easier for wheelchairs and walking frames to move around, so the wider the better. Ramps provide access in and out of the home, and homes can also be future proofed for those who may become reliant on a wheelchair in later years. Rails around the home help those who don’t use a wheelchair, but struggle with mobility.

Having level access from the house into a safe and secure garden is always important to our clients. For many parents, it provides peace of mind and allows the child to play freely or venture outside independently in a safe space.

Accessible lifts can also be added to homes to enable wheelchairs users access to all floors, in a previous article, Emily Shufflebotham from Bespoke Elevation discussed some of the common questions posed by clients who are considering adding a lift to their home.

Bathroom

For many clients, particularly those who are living with a spinal cord injury or an amputation, the bathroom is one of the most important rooms in the home. A well designed, accessible bathroom can provide a space where they can bathe independently and have the appropriate provisions available for their personal hygiene.

The most common adaptations in the bathroom include enough circulation space for a wheelchair, room for an individual and carer(s) where required and suitable facilities.

There are many toilets, showers, and baths available that can be fitted to a home depending on the person’s needs that will enable as much independence as possible. Our previous article on accessible bathrooms can be viewed here.

Living Space

When designing accessible homes, the layout of the main living space is always important. Ultimately, the aim is to create a home where every room can be used by every person.

We always aim to deliver barrier free floorplans that allow space for wheelchairs and walking aids, as well as household furniture.

Non-slip, safe flooring is also advised in accessible homes to prevent slips and falls, and these days there are many stylish designs available, so clients need not worry about their home looking clinical or dowdy!

Carefully designed kitchens enable independence to wheelchair users or those with limited mobility, whilst at the same time being suitable for everyone in the home. In most accessible kitchens, the smallest details can have the biggest difference including the height of work surfaces, access to equipment and space to socialise.

Assistive Technology

There are not many homes in the UK today that don’t have some kind of smart technology in them, and for disabled people new innovative technologies in the home can be extremely empowering. Today there are many pieces of technology available that make tasks easier to carry out.

Below is a list of just some pieces of technology that can be added to a home that can help a person in quite a substantial way.

  • “Alexa” – since its launch, the Amazon Alexa has enabled those living with disabilities to use voice activation to complete simple tasks around their home, from switching on lights, adjusting the heating to running home security. The device has also been credited for improving wellbeing and reducing loneliness, particularly in the last 12 months of lockdown by opening up a world of podcasts, audiobooks and music to people, who may otherwise be alone.
  • Smart Lighting – lack of visibility in the home can be dangerous for everyone, especially for people living with disabilities. Motion sensors are useful as they can be connected to lights to come on automatically when they sense movement. Smart lights can also be set up to come on at particular times of day and can even be connected to devices such as the Alexa.
  • Technology for a deaf or hearing-impaired person. In a previous blog, we discussed the technology that is available, including alarm clocks, fire alarms and baby alarms.
  • Heating – Having a comfortable temperature throughout a home is vitally important for a person living with a catastrophic injury. For some people, particularly those with a spinal cord injury, regulating their own body temperature isn’t possible, so maintaining an ambulant temperature in the home, and being able to control the temperature at the flick of a switch can be crucial.

We include ‘Smart Tech’ into many of our designs, a selection of which can be viewed here.

 

We are dedicated to designing homes that are accessible, stylish, and practical that not only meet the immediate needs of the client and their family but the potential needs of the future.

Our designs often exceed the expectations of our clients and families and enable them to meet their own aspirations.

 

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact our team: 01484 960560 | admin@franceandassociates.co.uk.

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

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