How to choose a family home for a disability – Showerbuddy

How to choose a family home: for a disability

In this guide, we’ll cover some of the main features that any home should have to best accommodate a family’s mobility needs. By including these must-haves in your brief, you can speed up the process of house hunting and shortlist down to options most likely to be practical in the long term.

  • The process of finding a new home.

  • It’s pretty daunting at the best of times. If you’re moving from an old home to a new one, there’s going to be the inevitable comparisons to make sure what you’re looking at is indeed an upgrade. Families with a disabled member need to add to the standard list of house hunting wants/needs with a number of criteria designed to accommodate easier day to day life for someone that experiences reduced degree of movement.

  • Close to: support services

  • Proximity to health providers and therapists

    While it may seem like a car ride is no big deal, any home that’s far out of town can start to feel like a real drag if your loved one has frequent visits with their doctor or other therapists. With long-term rehabilitation or mobility improvement programmes, you may need to be attending appointments multiple times each week.

    Having a home that’s in reasonably close driving distance to these appointments reduces the time out of the day spent travelling which you’ll all be grateful for!

    This also works the other way, with OTs and in-home carers being close by offering a much more responsive service than if you’re based remotely. If you have the option of being close to health services, go for it!

Make sure of: easy access

  • Driveway that offers ease of access to the home

    What may seem like a fairly minor detail often proves one of the biggest headaches to families who have one or more members with a mobility impairment. Access to the home via the driveway should allow two things:

    The ability to drive the family vehicle right up to the house, andThe ability to access the front door or a practical entrance into the home without any stairs.

    When these two things are taken care of, exiting the home and loading the vehicle becomes a less stressful series of movements. When it’s raining, your loved one will not be stuck out in the rain negotiating a stair chair lift or getting across to a car parked further away. And getting home from being out is made so much easier when you can drive right up to the house, unload and get inside without any steps in the process.

    As you look around for homes, take care to assess the driveway and front door entrance, but also the style of pathways to the entrances around the home. A cobblestone or brick pathway could make things tricky to maneuver around in a walking frame, wheelchair or other assistive technology.

    Better than a driveway that comes right up to the front door is a garage with internal access – this ensures everyone stays dry, and there won’t be the rush to get out of the rain quickly!

    Why a single-storey home is a big advantage

    While there’s most certainly positives behind having a multi storey house and plenty of attractive styles of architecture that make use of multiple levels, it’s really not the best option for a family with someone who needs mobility support.

    Yes, stair lifts and residential elevators are an invention. No, they are not cheap. Even with funding available, you may still find the total cost requires contribution from you as well. Then there’s the whole issue of time it takes to safely get fastened into a stair lift chair or call the elevator to your level and to travel to the desired level. These systems do not move quickly as well – so the process of getting up or down stairs can take a lot of fuss and time. When time is of the essence such as getting out of the house in an emergency, or simply needing to use the bathroom ‘now’, these chair lifts and elevators are very impractical and probably dangerous.

    A single storey home is the best choice for someone with mobility challenges:

    • Getting into and out of the home is much quicker.
    • You can have multiple exits all around the home making it safer in a fire.
    • Family members will have a much easier time carrying a disabled person out of a single storey home than down or up stairs.
    • Accessing the bathroom is far more straightforward (especially with a good bathroom mobility system).

    Flat outside areas of the property

    To ensure everyone’s able to enjoy the entire property’s outdoor areas, look for a home set on a flat piece of land, without an incline or outdoor steps.

    While this may be tricky in some parts of the world, families with a mobility impairment often find it worth choosing a home further out of the city centre where the practicalities of getting around the property are much easier.

    Much like getting up and down stairs, a flat outside property allows all of the family to get outside and enjoy the fresh air without a long drawn-out process.

Room configurations

  • Room configuration allows your disabled family member to be: close to the bathroom

    Floor plans of homes vary so wildly that it’s important to check how bedrooms are configured in relation to the bathroom. A mobility impaired family member will need to access the bathroom quickly and easily.

  • Some things you may want to check with regards to the bathroom and bedroom:

    • Does the room closest to the bathroom have the floor space to fit a bed, assistive equipment and all other bedroom furniture comfortably, with ample open floor space to conduct transfers onto a wheelchair or bathroom chair?
    • Does the doorway of the bedroom and bathroom adequately fit all assistive equipment you may need, particularly the wheelchair and shower chair?
    • Is the bedroom close to the bathroom and an easy exit in case of emergencies?

    Having some of these questions in your checklist can even help real estate agents/realtors put together a more appropriate short list for you to view.

Bathroom size

  • Bathroom with enough floor space to allow freedom of movement

    Now, this one is ‘great to have’, but before you rule out the home entirely, remember that a system like Showerbuddy will accommodate most bathrooms across the world.

    A bathroom with good floor space can make a big difference to the comfort and ease of movement for someone with mobility impairment and their carer. Given bathrooms are often full of objects such as shelves, scales, and laundry hampers, the usable floor area is minimal. When carers need to perform certain supportive movements like bathing or lifts, this can make things awkward.

    If the house is otherwise perfect, but the bathroom feels a bit on the small side, we’ve got another suggestion. Look into the Showerbuddy range of transfer chairs and see if our transfer options would fit in the bathroom using our purpose built app or web tool called BathCheck. With some measurements of the space (bring a tape measure with you to the house viewing!), you can enter this into our tool and know if our complete transfer systems, for either bathtub or shower units will work in the home’s bathroom. Showerbuddy transfer systems completely remove the need for any in-bathroom transfers and no lifting whatsoever while bathing or toileting. But you can read more about that in our page about the Transfer range.

  • Perfect: home

  • Perfect home but no disabled-friendly bathroom?

    Showerbuddy is a range of solutions that helps to transform most bathrooms into mobility-friendly options. Remodelling a bathroom in a new home is no longer required with Showerbuddy. Head over to our products section to see the range to accommodate both bathtubs and shower units.

Learn more about Showerbuddy’s: range for bathrooms

Showerbuddy provides solutions for mobility-impaired bathroom users. Head over to our products range page to explore our purpose-built shower chairs. 

Helpful Guides: Learn more in these related guides

  • Guide to parenting disabled adults

  • Tips for new parents of disabled children

  • Supporting a teenager in a wheelchair

  • Siblings of disabled children – some things to consider