I’m thrilled to hand over the blog today with some fabulous advice on receiving guests with disabilities from the lovely Vicki at Wheel Chic Home. Vicki’s blog is full of practical advice and first-hand experience as her husband aka Mr Wobblelegs was diagnosed with Primary Progressive form of MS just three months after they were married. Vicki’s been on a mission ever since to create a home that doesn’t resemble a hospital or a public loo for that matter. Having followed her story over on Instagram and her inspiring blog, she’s done a mighty fine job too.
Disability can strike at any time young or old and it’s something that I’ve experienced myself. My eldest son became physically disabled from the age of 5 to his late teens with a rare form of JIA. And although he’s been in and out of remission for the past seven years, the doctors can’t say whether it will ever go away or, indeed get worse. As a result, I’ve found Vicki’s journey truly inspiring and one that provides an insight into the world of disability as well as creating a home around her husband’s illness.
Making Your Home Disabled Friendly – Wheel Chic Home
Maybe you have a family member or friend that has a disability and you’ve been wanting to invite them to stay but have been apprehensive as to make your home disabled friendly. Vicki has put together some helpful advice to make their stay as comfortable as possible. As a result, you and they will be able to relax and enjoy your time together.
Vicki’s Top Tips
If you have elderly or disabled friends and relatives it can be challenging for them to visit your home because it may not be set up to help them with their mobility issues. This can mean to people getting ‘stuck’ in their own homes, unable to visit people – but there are some small and easy things you can do to help them feel safe and welcome in your home – here’s a roundup of some things that will be really helpful!
Be Creative With Access Points Into Your H
Sometimes it’s not always about using the front door. Perhaps you have an easier way around into the back? Perhaps you have a deck or patio that’s more accessible than your front door? Patio doors are much wider than a front door and easier for a wheelchair to get through.
Perhaps you could purchase or build a small temporary ramp if you have a frequent wheelchair visitor. You can buy small metal ramps (or be creative and make a wooden one!) that can be stored away until the next visit. The metal ones are in the £50-200 mark depending on the length but you can also find them on eBay, Gumtree or other selling sites pretty cheaply. These types of ramps fold up and can be stored in the garage or shed until next time.
Technically, as a guide for someone who can propel themselves with a manual wheelchair, for every 1in / 2.5cm of height, you should have 12in / 30cm of ramp length. However, if the wheelchair will have assistance from someone pushing, you can make that 1in / 2.5cm to 8in / 20cm. Any steeper becomes a little dangerous.
Move Furniture To Make A Clear Path
If there’s furniture that leaves only a narrow path to the sofa then move it a little to the side if you can, to make clear space for the wheelchair or crutches to get through. It might only need moving a little out of the way, but this will make all the difference. Also if you can put a side table close to the sofa or armchair that’s very helpful in case your visitor has balance issues and can’t reach their cup of tea or glass of wine!
Sometimes narrow hallways are a challenge, so again furniture might need to be moved to help the wheelchair navigate the space.
Fix Rugs So They Don’t Move
Rugs are a problem for wheelchair users or those on crutches. If you have a rug on a wooden or tiled floor it’s potentially a trip hazard for someone on sticks or crutches or something to get the wheels tangled up in. It might be worth removing the rug for the visit or invest in a rug gripper mat or double sided tape to keep them down and in place.
Make Sure There’s Enough Space Around The Bed
If you have guests staying overnight then making sure there’s enough space around the bed is important as there needs to be room for the wheelchair, or space to store crutches, sticks or frames.
This might mean you have to push the bed against the wall to make extra room, or perhaps move out some smaller pieces of furniture to clear a path, then you might want to consider this temporarily and move it back again after your guests have left.
Consider other sleeping arrangements too, if your guest can’t make it up the stairs, perhaps you have space for a sofa bed downstairs, or make space for a double height inflatable bed downstairs. You can make this feel cosy with lovely linens, pillows and a makeshift bedside table with a lamp.
Invest In Temporary Grab Rails
If you regularly have guests staying that have mobility issues, you might want to think about buying some temporary suction grab rails. You can buy these from Argos in pairs and are about £15. They can be fixed to clean, dry tiles and would be very useful in a WC next to the loo, or in the bathroom, over the bath or in the shower. They’re not the most stylish but for temporary use they are perfectly acceptable.
Do make sure you follow all the instructions and thoroughly test it before your disabled guest does. They can be removed easily by lifting the lever to release the vacuum and are small enough to be stored away until the next visit.
Invest In A Bath Board or Shower Seat
If you have a guest staying who would struggle with climbing into a bath for a shower, then you might want to invest in a cheap bath board to put across the top of the bath. This, together with a temporary grab rail would be really helpful for your guest to enable them to shower without fear of falling.
These boards and shower seats are about £20-£30 depending on size and can be fixed in a minute or two, and a few seconds to remove. The boards are pretty narrow in height and can be stored easily under a bed or in a cupboard when not in use.
If you have a shower cubicle, then perhaps you might consider a shower seat. These can be found on Amazon for example and are around the £20-30 mark. The legs fold up easily for storage when not needed.
As a temporary measure the bath boards and suction grab rails will do very well, even if they’re not the prettiest items out there – and it means your home isn’t covered in permanent fixings if you don’t need or want them once your visitors have gone home.
Make Sure You Have A Bath or Shower Mat
Even if you don’t use one all the time yourself, picking up a cheap shower mat for when your wobbly legged guests come is really important and will be really appreciated. It’s a small easy thing to sort out.
Think About Parking
If you have on-street parking it might be helpful to grab a space yourself that’s convenient to the house and then move the car when your guests come so they can get the easier space. If you have a driveway then perhaps allow your guest to take the spot closest to the house, or the one that’s easier for them to get in and out of.
Have a Drink Ready For Arrival!
Most important of all – have a lovely cold G&T or hot cuppa on arrival – as you would normally have for your guests, then sit back and enjoy your time together!
These small things will help your guest be less anxious about staying and worrying about falling in your home or breaking things. It’s important for a disabled or elderly guest not to feel awkward or like a burden, but arranging these little things will alleviate some worries.
What other ideas do you have for helping your less able guests?
Vicki is all for making our living and working environments “All Inclusive” and is doing a brilliant job not only with her blog but over on Instagram too. You may want to go give her a follow here.
Have a wonderful weekend and thanks for stopping by!