Accessible home design

‘Adapt, accept, embrace’.

These three words provided an inspiring insight into Charlie Elmore’s journey since sustaining a brain injury in a snowboarding accident four years ago.

The second documentary in BBC Three’s #DefyingTheLabel season followed the rehabilitation and recovery process of Charlie and two other young people who have brain injuries.

Something that was emphasised in the BBC documentary was that whilst rehabilitation in a hospital environment can be tough, some of the biggest struggles people face when adapting to life with a disability occur in the home.

The Motionspot team were recently asked to bring the design principles of our beautiful, accessible bathrooms and apply them to the rest of the home to overcome many of the common challenges that Charlie Elmore and others face on a daily basis.

The existing challenges in the home included:

  • An inaccessible bath, meaning the person couldn’t comfortably wash themselves
  • Cupboards and kitchen units that could not be reached from a wheelchair
  • Threshold strips that were creating a trip hazard
  • Steep steps up to the front door, which would make it near impossible to get in and out of the house in a wheelchair

For many, obstacles in the home like these are accompanied with an increased sense of isolation, which can have an detrimental impact to their well-being.

The lady who required a Motionspot designed home is likely to need to use a wheelchair in the near future, so it is essential that the adaptations suit her current needs as well as the ones that will arise over time.

The accessible home design project began with the exterior of the house, as being able to comfortably and confidently leave and enter the home is an integral part of the journey of rehabilitation.

The modular door ramp installed was designed to be flexible, so it could meet the changing needs of the client and also be easily removed when it comes to selling the property in the future. The front door was also redesigned so the threshold could be level access.

For many, the kitchen is the heart of the home and good accessible design is the key to developing spaces that are enjoyable and easy to use.

A range of design features were incorporated to create the accessible kitchen, including high-low kitchen units, a rise and fall sink that is operated at the touch of a button, pull-out baskets in the cupboards and an accessible oven door.

With it being the most intimate space of any home, the bathroom is the room where people want the greatest independence.

The accessible features that encourage independent movement in the bathroom included a widened doorway, level access shower, an accessible wall-hung WC and a wheelchair accessible basin.

As well as this, a sensor operated light mirror was installed. These are a great feature for anyone with poor vision, as they remove disorientating shadows.

The accessible home design aimed to create a space that could be used with confidence for anyone with a disability and would remove the obstacles that impact on their wellbeing.

For Charlie Elmore and the other 11 million people in the UK living with the long-term effects of an illness or disability, the rehabilitation period can feel like an uphill struggle, but adapting the home to suit changing needs can be the first step to accepting and embracing a disability.

BBC Three’s #DefyingTheLabel season was launched on the 20th July as part of the BBC’s commitment to promoting diversity both on and off screen and seeks to question perspectives and attitudes towards young, disabled people in the UK.

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