You may have a family member, friend or date that is a wheelchair user planning to visit your home. As a host, you want to make their experience enjoyable and easy to access as possible. Not all homes or apartments are suited for wheelchair users. Before you get stressed out worrying about what changes you need to make, follow the details below to assure you take the right steps to make your home wheelchair accessible.
The Entry Way
First your visitor needs to be able to enter your home. Some homes are easy to access and have a flat surface that goes directly from the walkway up to their door. However, most homes have at least one step to encounter before entering through the door. If your home has steps you can invest in a portable ramp for the front entrance of your home. If you are in an apartment and live on the first floor, generally there will already be easy access to your apartment. However, if you live on the second floor or higher you will want to assure the elevator in your building is working properly before inviting your guest over.
If you find that you invite a wheelchair user to your home spur of the moment and don’t have a portable ramp available there are a few things you can do to help your visitor enter your home.
- Assist Your Guest – You can use the wheelchair handles to carefully pull the wheelchair up the steps backwards.
- Two People Assist – Two able-bodied people can help the wheelchair user by carrying them up the stairs in their wheelchair. One person needs to lift from the back and the other from the front.
- Bump Up the Stairs – If the stairs have enough room for a landing space you can assist the wheelchair user by popping a wheelie with the front wheels and bumping up the wheelchair from the back. You will need to do this carefully and one step at a time.
Your guest is most-likely going to need access to the bathroom. Unfortunately, most homes and apartments do not have wheelchair accessible bathrooms, however you can take a few steps to make it more accommodating.
- Clear all rugs and mats off the bathroom floor. Empty space is essential for a wheelchair user to maneuver around the area.
- Measure the door way. Most wheelchairs are about 27” wide. The doorway will need to measure about 32” for the wheelchair user to easily fit through the door. Luckily most homes and apartments have doorways that are at least 32” wide.
- Install grab bars next to the toilet and in the tub and shower area. You can purchase temporary grab bars online that easily attach to flat surfaces.
- Provide a commode lift for your guest. Commode lifts are easy to find and purchase online at affordable prices. Carefully place the portable commode lift over the standard toilet for use.
- Invest in a portable transfer bench for the shower. If you plan to have your guest spend the night make sure you provide a shower bench for their convenience. If you have a roll in shower this will make it easier for your guest as well.
Obstacles in the Living Space
Generally, the living room and kitchen are the most common places for entertaining guests. To make things easier for your guest remove area rugs during the time of their visit. You will also want to arrange the furniture so there is enough space for the wheelchair user to easily access the sofa or chair. Even if the wheelchair user prefers to stay in their wheelchair, you still need to provide space for them to easily enter into the living room.
If you enjoy entertaining in your kitchen, make sure it’s wheelchair accessible. Your guest needs to be capable of entering the kitchen easily through the door way. There also has to be enough room for your guest to turn around easily. If your kitchen lacks space, entertain in the dining room or living room. However, if you have a large kitchen that contains a dining table, make it accessible so that your guest can roll directly up to the table with no obstacles in the way.
If you have the luxury of planning ahead before you invite your guest to your home, make sure you do so carefully.
- Begin by cleaning your home and creating empty space. One of the best ways to assure you are accommodating your guest is to pretend you are in a wheelchair and go around your home checking for easy maneuverability.
- Make sure your home entryway is wheelchair accessible. Purchase a portable ramp and learn to install it properly. Safety is essential when using a ramp.
- Prepare the bathroom and purchase and install temporary grab bars. Once installed you need to test them by using your own body weight.
- If you are planning a backyard BBQ, make sure you install portable entry way ramps for easy access to the back yard. The wheelchair user will also need a flat surface to use while in the back yard. Remember to clear off space on your patio and make sure a wheelchair is capable of easily gliding over the patio flooring such as cement or tile.
Once your guest arrives, they will most-likely notice the changes you made to accommodate them for their visit. They will thank you for your kindness and for going out of your way to make them feel comfortable. Remember to avoid discussing all of the changes you made in a negative manner, such as making a big deal out of how much money you spent to accommodate your guest or the trouble you went through installing the items. Allow your guest to enjoy the ease and comfort of visiting your home and invite them over more often.