The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in the house. To live an independent life, one must be able to access and use it to prepare nutritious meals. With 4% of those living with disability required to use a wheelchair, as well as some ageing Australians, it’s important to find solutions to create a kitchen that’s accessible for everyone in the home.
Receiving care and support to live independently and remain at home, is becoming an increasingly popular option. With platforms like Better Caring, more and more people are finding they can receive in-home care, and so making rooms throughout the house accessible is important.
The kitchen sink
One of the most important parts in the kitchen is the sink and faucet. For those in a wheelchair, it can be difficult to reach, especially with cupboards below it. Removing these cupboards is the first step to allowing wheelchair users to easily access the tap.
A single lever or a touch faucet makes the tap easy to reach and simple to use. A detachable spray hose also adds a more accessible option. Finally, the actual placement of the tap is important to consider. Traditionally they are placed at the rear of the sink, but this can be difficult for some to reach. Instead, consider installing it to one side of the sink.
Simple, small changes can make a huge impact on areas within the kitchen. Often, handles on cabinets can be hard to pull or difficult to reach for those with arthritis and limited mobility. Changing the cabinet handles is a simple job that can make a lot of difference if done correctly.
Rather than smaller, standard handles, consider larger D-style hardware. These handles are much easier to use and don’t force you to sacrifice the stylish look of your kitchen. It’s always a good idea to test out any hardware before buying and installing.
Cabinets can also be altered to make them more accessible. Pulling things like appliances and dishes out of cabinets can be dangerous, especially if they’re heavy and up high. Shelves that pull or roll out can be installed in low cabinets which mean you don’t have to bend and stretch to reach things. Cabinets that are higher can be fitted with shelves that drop down, which again makes the contents easier to reach.
Appliances can pose a risk if they’re hard to reach or for someone with vision impairment. If vision is a problem, using appliances correctly and safely can be challenging. Using colour-coded stickers or Bump Dots can help users differentiate between settings, ensuring they select the right temperatures and so on.
Good lighting is crucial to a safe, accessible kitchen. It’s important everyone can see all parts of the kitchen with ease. Even with a kitchen that’s fully optimised, poor lighting can make things difficult.
Overhead lighting is important for the overall room and moving through it, but consider how the kitchen will be used. Think about where certain tasks will be carried out, like food preparation and add lighting specific for the activity. You can even run LED light strips along the floor, underneath cupboards to help prevent trips.
Making rooms accessible within your home is an important and necessary task if you live with disability or someone who is ageing. Even small, simple tasks like lighting, cabinet pulls and rearranging the kitchen sink can make a huge, positive difference.