Thinking through the process to make your home fully accessible and disability friendly can be daunting. There are many different areas to consider and plan out. The best way to tackle the job at hand is to break it down. There are four main processes to assess and they are:
- Obstructions that need to be removed
- Small changes and improvements
Thoroughly check each room in your home. What are the access obstructions and where are the potential hazards? Rugs or loose carpets should be taken away. Make sure that all floor tiles, lino and carpets are securely fastened and that there are no loose or rough edges. Rearrange furniture to make access through a room easier. Remove and store any furniture that is not needed. Clutter is not access friendly.
Make Small Changes and Improvements
Making some little changes can go a long way towards improving quality of life for a disabled person. Braille signage on cupboard doors could be a huge help. Portable wheelchair ramps can be used at home as a temporary solution or when modifications are not possible. Well organised cupboards and drawers make cooking, cleaning and relaxing much more enjoyable. Group similar items together and place them in convenient locations.
There are a number of modifications that can be made to a home but before you start, consider whom you are making them for. With the person in mind, introduce suitable equipment and aids. Disability friendly items that can be brought into a home are:
- Handrails and / or grab rails
- Automatic doors and entry systems
- Wheelchair friendly flooring
To make a home fully accessible you may need to undertake some renovations. Hallways in many houses are not wide enough for wheelchair users to pass through. The bathroom and / or kitchen may need to be improved or completely changed. These are large-scale jobs and you will need to plan for any temporary disruption and consider how it will be managed.
Support and Advice
Before starting any modifications or renovations it is worth contacting the Ministry of Health for advice and support. Funding is available for the provision of equipment and housing alterations to those who are eligible. Enable New Zealand is a multi-service organization that provides assistance to people who live in Wellington, Hamilton or South localities. Accessible services residents of Auckland and Northland.