If you do not use a wheelchair, you probably do not realize how inaccessible your home is for someone in one. Coming home after sustaining a spinal cord injury (SCI) can be a wakeup call to the inaccessibility of your home. The following tips can help you make some quick fixes to your home that will make it more welcoming and accessible for a wheelchair user.
Before a spinal cord injury, hopping in and out of the shower was easy. However, showers and bathing now take more work and planning. If you have a shower with a low step, consider adding a threshold to help make it easier to roll a wheelchair into, or replacing step-in showers with walk-in options.
Doorknobs probably don’t seem like a problem when you are grabbing them and turning them from a standing position. Check to see if these are in reach for someone in a seated position. If not, consider lowering the doorknobs or installing automatic door opening.
Doorways can be difficult to push a wheelchair through. Standard door frames are not typically wide enough for wheelchairs to fit through. To make this transition easier, remove doors and door frames or change the direction in which the door opens.
In order for a wheelchair user to enter the home, you will most likely need to build a wheelchair ramp. Before building a ramp, take into consideration the width of the ramp. Adding handrails for added support can be a good idea. You will also want to consider adding a non-slip surface or cover to the ramp to help avoid a slippery surface during rain or snow.
Start with removing rugs from your home that can trip up a wheelchair user or catch on the wheelchair itself. If possible, consider replacing the carpeted areas in your home with hardwood or tile to allow for easy maneuvering.
If you still use a landline telephone, consider switching to cordless options so one can be carried with the wheelchair user at all times. Make sure that all phones are within reach from a seated position.
Source: blog.caregiverpartnership.com, Accessed: 4/5/17