Quick and easy ways to reduce hazards in the home for mobility impaire – Showerbuddy

Quick and easy ways to reduce hazards in the home for mobility impaired people

Quick and easy ways to reduce hazards in the home for mobility impaired people

For a household of fully mobile people, the home might not seem full of hazards – some basic standards around decluttering and tidying is usually enough to keep everyone safe. But for anyone who has experienced a loss of mobility through illness, injury or lifelong condition, the home needs to be properly configured and kept to an even higher level of tidiness that offers peace of mind to both the mobility impaired person and their family.
In this article, we talk about some of the quick tips that can be done to prepare the home better for someone who doesn’t have the complete ability to manoeuvre around without equipment or carer help. These tips are general only, and you should always work with an occupational therapist or similar home assessment role to ensure the home is ready to accommodate the needs of you or your loved one.

Clean up the home of clutter

Clutter around the home doesn’t just make for untidy rooms, but present an actual issue to those without the ability to get around easily. For someone with reduced mobility who still walks to a degree, clutter is a tripping hazard that can cause significant injury.
Assistive equipment often requires more space to mount and dismount, and move around the room. The clutter around the home, whether it’s boxes of unused items, toys, foot stools, shoes, or any other loose objects that are usually left on the ground, should ideally be given a new storage place, out of the way. Consider things like a shoe rack, positioned out of the way of the doorways and entrance, keeping multiple items neatly organised and off the floor.


Going through each room and decluttering doesn’t necessarily mean reorganising items – you may wish to use the opportunity to reduce how much ‘stuff’ you have in the home and donate, sell or recycle things no longer needed.

This process is about making life easier for both the mobility impaired person, but for anyone else in the home who’ll provide assistance too. With less obstacles to worry about, it’s easier to focus on executing tasks like helping a loved one or client transfer onto a wheelchair, and move them through the home efficiently. It’s also important to ensure that emergency exits are swift.

Fix door thresholds

The doorways of a home are subject to much foot traffic, meaning that over time the join between rooms and hallways can sometimes wear down. Some doorways will simply be carpet joins, whilst other carpet to hard floor will have some sort of metal threshold that is affixed to offer a clean look.

As part of the home review, check the doorways and look for some of the following:

  • Has the carpet worn and scuffed where there is loose material sticking up out of the floor?
  • If a metal trim, is the piece firmly in place, the full length across?
  • Are there any nails/tacks that have come up slightly or are loose in the metal trim?
  • Are there any loose parts of the doorway, such as wooden skirting?

You may need to get some outside help to do these repairs if significant, otherwise someone handy in your household may be able to attend to this. Having the thresholds in good shape saves headaches down the track.

Ensure all lightbulbs are replaced and bright

Lighting the home is important no matter who you are, but when you’re having to negotiate a mobility impairment and stay aware of any potential hazards in your path, lighting is that much more crucial. After checking the maximum wattage of your light sockets (ensure this is done safely or by a professional electrician), you can find the best possible light bulbs to give rooms and hallways better illumination.
The bathroom is a good example of the need for plenty of light. With visibility somewhat reduced in a steamy environment, good lighting makes the process of accessing the shower a little less hazardous.


In other parts of the house, a lack of light combined with fatigue is a recipe for accidents. The good news is that replacing lighting isn’t usually very expensive compared to other house modifications or maintenance.

Rearrange furniture to create easy pathways around the home

Depending on what kind of approach you have to furniture and interior design, you may not need to remove furniture to prepare for a mobility impaired person to get around easier, but you may well need to think about things like the spacing between furniture, and the placement of things like tables and lounge suites in relation to the path to the doorway.
Wheelchairs being much wider than most people, need to be accommodated for things like walkers, or even the process of manually carrying someone. Getting around chairs, coffee tables and other furniture just adds extra stress that can be avoided.

Place portable ramps around key exits

Ramps are an excellent way to transform a typical home’s exterior entrances and exits into wheelchair compatible solutions. They’re also good for those using assistive methods for walking like a rollator, crutches or walking stick. Lifting a leg up to scale stairs with reduced mobility can cause some pain, and if executed improperly may lead to an accident.
Ramps may be funded through your local health system, but otherwise can be picked up via mobility stores and even in some larger homewares chains. Ensure that the ramp is the right size for the space and is made from a hard wearing material that will be weather resistant over the long term. You may also wish to choose a portable option to take on the road as well.

Bring objects down within reach

Many people with paraplegia still conduct many of the daily tasks of life on their own. With a reliance upon a wheelchair, it’s important not to keep items in cupboards or shelves that require straining and stretching to reach.
Instead, have these items placed within comfortable arms reach from the seated position in a wheelchair. This will avoid nasty accidents with falling kitchen utensils, jars of food or toiletries in the bathroom.

Recruit the whole household

Keeping the home well clear of hazards is something achieved much easier if everyone understands they have a role to play. This can be a little harder with little ones, but even kids can catch on quickly to responsibilities they have. You may even wish to incentivise this as first.

For everyone else, ensure they’re thinking about the following:

  • Are there any hazards in the room you’re leaving that could cause issues for your mobility impaired loved one?
  • Is this the best place for a specific object or piece of furniture?
  • Is the bathroom kept dry and clean?
  • Are there any barriers towards a quick exit in an emergency?
  • Have I cleared the floor of loose laundry?
  • Have I asked my loved one what concerns they have around the home and how can I help?

If you’re unsure about how best to provide help preparing your home, chat with your loved one’s occupational therapist; they’ll guide you with advice to make the house ready.

Further reading

Enjoyed this article? You may be interested in these resources online:

The information in this article is intended as general information only and is not a replacement for official health guidance by your local medical providers. Please always consult an occupational therapist and/or local healthcare for more specific guidance.