Thanks to an increase in community care workers, more disabled people are now able to continue living independently in their own homes. And an individual's changing needs don't necessarily mean they have to move house.
Here's a guide on how to transform a standard kitchen into a fully-functional room that's totally accessible for a wheelchair user.
Kitchen worktops and counters will need to be lowered in order to to allow a wheelchair-user to work comfortably. When choosing new counters, you should always go for a design with rounded corners. This makes manoeuvring around in the kitchen much safer and reduces the possibility of injury from protruding sharp edges.
When it comes to siting the counters, always measure the height of the wheelchair to the top of the armrest and allow plenty of space for the user to position themselves comfortably. Similarly, measure the amount of knee room that will be required underneath the counter to allow easy access.
The kitchen sink should be positioned at the right height so that the wheelchair-user can comfortably access it. Again, it's useful to measure the height of the wheelchair to the top of the armrests when working out how high to site the sink.
Don't choose a sink that's too deep. The user should be able to comfortably reach items that are placed in the bottom of it, whether they are sitting or standing. Taps should be of a single lever or loop design for ease of use.
Make sure that the sink drain is situated to the rear so that there's plenty of knee space underneath. Any hot water pipes should be well-insulated to prevent the risk of burns, and to allow for easy access.
Wall cabinets should be positioned at a suitable height above the counter to allow easy access for a wheelchair-user. Innovations such as pull-out cutting boards, roll-out shelves and baskets, and drawers featuring full extension-glides are also helpful.
Base cabinets should feature a recessed area beneath to allow easy access for a wheelchair.
In order to allow smooth access to the kitchen, entry doors must be made wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair. Use 'swing clear' hinges to ensure that the door opening is clear. Handles should be of lever-style, and the force required to open and close the door should be easily manageable for a disabled person. Make sure there's no step or lip in the doorway that could hinder access.
All kitchen appliances should be situated to allow a user comfortable and easy access. Cookers should have staggered burners or plates with the controls mounted on the top or beneath the unit, so that the user does not have to reach across hot burners. Recessed control knobs are easier to turn and hold.
Avoid ovens with bottom hinges that would be impractical for a wheelchair-user. Opt instead for designs with side-hinged doors.
Dishwashers should be raised slightly off the floor and positioned so that the contents can be accessed from either side.
Avoid using carpeting of any form in the kitchen. Choose either smooth tiles or laminate flooring instead. Carpeting can be problematic to clean in the event of spills, and can also make manoeuvring around in a wheelchair difficult.
When someone becomes disabled and is confined to a wheelchair, it's not always necessary to move home. With some thought and planning, it's perfectly possible to renovate and remodel a standard kitchen into a user-friendly space that's fully accessible. Learn more about your options by contacting companies like Cymbal Kitchen & Joinery.