A stroke is a type of brain injury, which leaves many stroke survivors with a weakness on one side of their body or trouble with moving, talking or thinking.
In the UK there are over 1.2 million stroke survivors, and around two thirds of these survivors leave hospital or their rehabilitation facility with a disability.
The majority of stroke survivors can return to their own home to live independently following discharge from a hospital or rehabilitation facility. When returning home, it is vital that their home is a safe place to be and is adapted appropriately.
Many stroke survivors are left with a variety of challenging physical and cognitive conditions, but by implementing safety precautions and adaptive equipment, a person should be able to live independently in their own home.
At present, only 7% of homes in England offer minimal accessibility features*. However, there are a number of adaptations that can be made to homes to provide solutions for a stroke survivor.
The home environment can have a huge impact on the recovery of an individual who has survived a stroke and should be adapted in a way that supports continuing recovery and rehabilitation. Since every person is unique, changes to a home are most effective when they meet specific needs and in most cases, the individual, along with their occupational therapist and / or physiotherapist will be able to determine which modifications will best suit their needs. These can be made to meet the person’s immediate need and also to suit potential future needs (such as needing a wheelchair), especially if the individual plans on staying in the home indefinitely.
A commonality in many stroke survivors is fatigue. Research indicates that sleep is essential for stroke recovery (article can be viewed here.). What energy is left is better spent carrying out useful and essential activities, and having an unadapted home can be a drain on energy for very simple everyday tasks. Adapting a person’s home environment to meet their individual needs is a key aspect to reach an optimal recovery status, post stroke.
• Widening Doorways – This will permit wheelchairs and other mobility assistance vehicles to easily manoeuvre through the home and passageways.
• Level or ramped access to the garden – Steps in and out of the home can be problematic for someone who has survived a stroke, ramps, level access and grab rails make manoeuvring in and out of the home easier.
• Level access bathroom / safe shower room – Moving around a bathroom can be difficult for people following a stroke, so a level access shower or wet room can make a huge difference, making it safer for transfers . Smaller adaptations, such as raised seats, grab rails and handrails can also
improve safety and independence.
• Adapted kitchen – The height of normal kitchens can be problematic for a stroke survivor with limited movement and particularly for those in a wheelchair. By modifying counter heights, a person can reach from a seated position. Roll-under countertops also allow people in wheelchairs to work from a seated position. The layout of a kitchen often needs to be modified to enable a wheelchair to move around it safely.
• Access to the first floor either via a stairlift or through floor lift – for those who find stairs difficult following a stroke, a stairlift or a through ceiling lift can be installed.
France + Associates are experts in inclusive design, and act as both expert witnesses to assess the suitability of property for disabled persons. We offer substantial practical experience to design homes for people with disabilities.
*2018 Equality and Human Rights Commission
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