How Well Does Your Home Work?
Last updated July 2022
The open up tabs below have questions that are designed to help you think about this and what you might need to do to make your home more accessible now and in the future. You will need expert advice and guidance from a community occupational therapist (community OT) from Social Services. You can refer yourself, or request that your child’s NHS occupational therapist (OT) or physio refers you. Some adaptations, such as installing a ramp and rails to replace a step may be relatively straightforward and completed quickly. Others can be much more complex and need plenty of time for both planning and completion. That’s all covered in Adapting your Home, Costs and Funding.
- Getting between rooms: If your child is or will be using a walking frame, manual chair or powerchair:
- Are doors and hallways wide enough?
- Are there any steps between rooms?
- Which way do doors open?
- Are the handles easy to use?
- Getting around rooms:
- How you have things now, is there space in each room to:
- Turn a buggy,
- Go past with a walking frame,
- Turn in a Wizzybug or wheelchair.
- How could space be increased if needed?
- Moving furniture around
- Changing what different rooms are used for
- Is adding a room / rooms on to the house a possibility?
- How you have things now, is there space in each room to:
- Are there rugs that could be a trip hazard?
- If your child uses a walking aid or a wheelchair, is the flooring suitable?
- Moving between floors - if you have an upstairs:
- Is this where your child sleeps and uses the bathroom? How do they get there now?
- As they grow and get heavier:
- Would a downstairs bedroom and accessible wetroom (bathroom) be possible?
- Would there be space to fit a through floor lift? If so, is the upstairs wheelchair accessible (e.g. is the landing wide enough? Is the bathroom big enough to adapt into a suitable wet room?)
- In the bathroom:
- Can your child get in and out of the bath or shower safely? What help do they need for this?
- Can they get on and off the toilet safely? What help do they need for this?
- As your child gets heavier what might they need and what are the options? e.g.
- Is there room for a walk-in / roll-in shower ?
- Is the ceiling structurally sound enough to take a ceiling hoist?
- In the bedroom:
- Can your child get in and out of bed safely?
- Is there room for any equipment they use / might use?
- e.g. would there be adequate space for a specialist profiling bed and turning space for a wheelchair?
- How easy and ‘private’ is it to get between the bedroom and the bathroom?
- Storage and equipment:
- Is there enough space for your child’s equipment - both when it’s being used and when it’s being stored or charged?
- Can your child access their toys / computer / activities as independently as possible?
- Are there enough electrical points in the right places?
Getting In and Out of Your Home
- Can your child get safely in and out of the doors?
- Are the doors wide enough for a buggy, walking frame, manual chair or powerchair?
- Is it level through the actual doors or is there a threshold that could be a trip hazard or prevent wheelchair access?
- Can they open the door(s) themselves?
- Are there steps?
- If there are steps and your child can walk, are they shallow enough to manage?
- As a temporary measure, portable ramps may overcome difficult access. They can also be used for houses that open straight on to the pavement.
- Do there need to be any rails or grab rails at the doorways or along any paths or steps?
- If steps are low and the overall slope is gentle, could they be replaced by a sloping path?
- If it’s impossible to build a ramp or slope of the correct gradient, could a step lift be installed? This is a platform with safety rails and a folding front ramp which rises hydraulically.
- If the approach to your house is steep, is there space for a short-rise lift?
If You Have a Garden or Access to a Shared Outside Area
- Are the paths firm, slip resistant and reasonably smooth?
- If your child uses a powerchair, is there, or could there be, a firm patio which would be better to use than a grass area?
- Are there any gates your child would need to manage? If so, to enable independent access these shouldn’t be spring-loaded - but also think about safety / locks for all children in the home.
- Can you make the garden a place your child can enjoy more? Do you need help and ideas to do this?
"I would also suggest that you contact your local Rotary, Round Table or Lions Club as they may be willing to fund or part contribute towards your garden. Details of your local groups can be found from your local library or citizen’s Advice Bureau."
The Wellchild Charity Helping Hands Project provides support to disabled children and their families. They have, at times, used their volunteers to help adapt gardens: www.wellchild.org.uk
If You Need Vehicle Access
- If your child is likely to need to use a powerchair and you think you'll have a Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle (WAV) (find out more in the Car Travel section), how closely can you park to your home? Will your child be able to get in and out of a vehicle safely?
- If you're hoping to have off street parking, is there enough room? There needs to be enough space for the vehicle, the tail lift, and your child to manoeuvre their powerchair in and out between the vehicle and your home. This usually means allowing at least 1,200mm to the side and rear of a standard car parking space. Is there a dropped kerb for your vehicle to go out onto the road? If not, you may be able to apply for one:
- If you have the space, what about a car port? Especially useful for rainy days.
- If your only option is on-street parking – would it be a possibility near you? If so, you may be able to apply for a disabled parking space:
Contact your county council or national body: