A blog written by Häfele…
More than one in five people in the UK are disabled, according to government figures, however many are not living in homes that are suitable to their needs. Statistics from UK Disability show nearly half (47 per cent) of people with a disability have at least ‘some difficulty’ getting in and out of their home, and further data from Habinteg estimates over 400,000 wheelchair users live in properties that are not adapted nor accessible. And with an aging population, the challenges around making homes accessible and safe for everyone will only continue to rise.
Earlier this year, the government released details of its new National Disability Strategy, which emphasises the need to create more accessible, adapted and safer homes. The steps outlined in the strategy include raising accessibility standards of new homes and improving the delivery of the Disabled Facilities Grant, which can be used for improvements such as widening doors and installing ramps.
As well as making homes more accessible, thought also needs to be given to designing rooms in an appropriate way. For example, kitchens require careful consideration to ensure they are functional, attractive spaces that are safe and comfortable for everyone to use.
When it comes to the overall design of the kitchen, it’s important to start with the layout. One-sided kitchens mean people can work next to each other, providing space for assistance, while two-sided kitchens can be beneficial for people with mobile impairments as they can lean on the worktops. The latter might not be suitable for wheelchair users, however, as there may not be enough space to turn. Instead, an L-shaped kitchen might be more appropriate for wheelchair users.
Fixtures and fittings, such as appliances and storage, can also make kitchens more accessible. The Smeg Touch Control Induction Hob with Angled Edge Glass and Reduced Depth 900mm, for example, is a linear-style hob that means users do not need to lean over hot pots and pans to reach the ones at the back. Boiling taps, such as the Grohe Red II Duo Instant Hot Water Tap, are also a safer option instead of a heavy kettle.
Cupboards and work surfaces that move at the touch of a button are also useful design features. For example, Ropox Vertiinside is an adjustable height wall cabinet. Ropox also offers Motor and Control Boxes, which can be added to the frame underneath the worktop to adjust the height electronically.
Movable furniture could be a good option too. For example, multi-functional adjustable table frames can help those who may otherwise struggle to move heavy or hot products around the kitchen safely.
Finally, smart storage solutions aid usability and increase the amount of useful space. Pull out storage units and baskets, swing out larder units, corner units, carousel sets, and pull down wire shelves can all be installed into cupboards to help users who can’t otherwise reach up or down to access everything that’s stored away.
With 14 million people with disabilities in the UK, it’s vital that everyone in the industry considers how to make homes accessible and inclusive. Thanks to continual research and development, along with the latest innovations and systems on the market, accessible living can be a key focus and not an afterthought to help millions of people now and for generations to come.