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When a child suffers a serious injury or accident, it can have a devastating effect, not only on them but also on their family. In many cases, the life changing condition sustained by the child may mean that they cannot return home or that the home they currently live in may require some adaptations. In many cases whilst the child remains young, parents simply “manage” in far than ideal situations.

In a lot cases in our experience, families will move a number of times to “interim” properties until they can either find or afford a home with potential to adapt.

Adaptations can be made to a property are made to make it safe, inclusive, and functional for the whole family, whilst enabling the child to live as independent a life as possible. Making the home easier to use can also reduce stress on a family where caring for a child with additional needs is already all consuming.

We have years of experience in designing homes for children who have additional accommodation needs, and in every project of this nature, we always put the child at the heart of the design and build process.

There are many factors to consider when designing a home for a child, below we discuss some of the key ones.

Wheelchair friendly

In many cases, a child may be reliant on a wheelchair or have limited mobility. Many traditional homes can be difficult for a child in a wheelchair to navigate, but simple adaptations such as widening doorways and the spaces between rooms can allow a child to easily move around, easing some of the issues. Wider doors swinging into the rooms can incur other problems, so the size of rooms and positions of furniture are equally important,

Access throughout the entire home is a critical part of any design and build, and where a child has mobility issues, the inclusion of an internal lift may also be required, which can give them access to every floor.

Where possible, ramps instead of stairs and level access both internally and externally into the home also give a child the freedom to move around. If outside areas can be “lifted”, this provides a better finish for both the wheelchair user and other family members, removing the need for handrails or creating potential trip hazards.

Accessible Rooms

When designing a home for a child living with additional accommodation needs, it is vital that they can move easily between rooms and that there are sufficient rooms within the home to meet therapy, living and storage requirements. Where required, ceiling track hoists can be fitted to enable the safer manoeuvring of a child between bedrooms and bathrooms as well as other rooms in the home. Handrails, walk-in showers, and accessible toilets can be included for children with greater mobility, and also allow for some privacy and independence as they get older.

Additional rooms may be needed to store large pieces of equipment, create safer and hygienic food preparation areas, or a sizeable utility to accommodate a significant increase in washing and drying requirements. A therapy room maybe required for continued physiotherapy to maintain, prolong and encourage the child’s muscle use, it may also be used for sensory stimulation, for speech and language sessions or for additional home education programmes.

Throughout the entire home, simple adaptations can be made that promote inclusivity for the child and their family. In kitchens, adjustable worktops and breakfast bars make what is one of the most important and the busiest room of the house the most accessible, it also supports independent living as the child reaches adulthood.

Carers Annexe

Many parents and other family members often provide a huge amount of care for a child living with additional and complex care needs. In order to provide some “normality” to the family, a care regime is often put in place to ease some of the burden and allow parents to remain parents to their special loved ones. The care aspect is then met by employed care professionals, which if provided within the home, are often afforded with their own cares accommodation. In many cases this is a fundamental aspect of the design process and allows a carer to live-in either full or part time to support the family, but allows the family unit with the dignity and privacy that they deserve.

Sensory

A sensory room can be included in the design of the home and can have major benefits that help a child with sensory issues. A room or a sensory space can be designed to meet the individual needs of a child, allowing access to this therapy in the comfort of their own home.

On many of our inclusive design projects, we are also often asked to include a sensory garden into the overall design, as they have numerous benefits for a person living with a brain injury, spinal injury, or neurological condition.

As well as flowers and plants, stimulating interactive equipment such as a trampoline with a hoist or a hot tub can stimulate a person’s senses and be particularly beneficial for a child living with a disability.

Having safe and accessible space outside of the home is extremely important for a child and their family that are more likely to spend significant periods of time at home. A good outside space can on warmer days be an additional room to the home.

Hydrotherapy

The addition of a hydrotherapy pool in a home, can be used to complement a child’s rehabilitation and allow for aquatic based therapy to be carried out in the comfort of the child’s own home. The added benefit of a hydrotherapy pool in a family home, is that it can also be used recreationally by other members of the family.

For more information about Hydrotherapy pools, please see our previous article.

Storage

Medical equipment can often take up a lot of space, which is why we consider storage solutions when designing homes for people living with disabilities. Spaces throughout the home can be adapted to allow for the safe storage of medical supplies and equipment, whilst also ensuring it is readily accessible.

Future Proofing

When designing a home for a child living with a disability, it is essential to consider the longevity of the home to ensure, where possible, that the child can live there for the rest of their lives, even if their condition deteriorates.

By equipping the home for future adaptations, such as additional hoists, ready made doorways which are obscured to provide an alternative future floor layout, a child can remain in their forever home, without the upheaval of sourcing an alternative property and relocating. On a home that meets most of the childs needs, it is often better to employ the motto of “improve – don’t move”.  

In many builds, design thought on separate accommodation for parents to move into once the child has reached maturity is included to enable independent living with the security of family nearby.

 

Examples of homes that we have adapted for children:

+      Extensive remodelling, refurbishment and extension for a child living with a disability and their family. 

+      The design of a family home that is fully accessible and supports continued rehabilitation for a child who sustained a catastrophic injury at birth.

+      Design and build of a home to meet the complex needs of a child born with cerebral palsy following a negligent delivery, that also accommodates a large family and a live-in carer.

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

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