Renovating your kitchen for wheelchair access
If you or a loved one becomes restricted to a wheelchair permanently, making some renovations to your kitchen can make a great deal of difference to the amount of independence one can have day-to-day. Here are some ideas to make your kitchen wheelchair-friendly.
Lowered work surfaces
While ideally you would lower all of the bench tops, this may not be possible. If the kitchen area is shared between someone who stands and a person who is in a wheelchair, having some lower working surfaces and some higher working surfaces means you’ll both be able to comfortably use the kitchen for meal prep. For aesthetic reasons, it might make sense to have a lower bench in the centre of the kitchen as an island or to have lower benches on one side of the kitchen and higher benches on the other side of the kitchen.
Remember to also get some water outlets placed at lower levels as well as the benches, so you can easily get yourself a glass of water.
Research the turning radius of the wheelchair that you will be using so that you don’t have to try and perform an 18 point turn to get around a tight corner. While the Building Code of Australia applies to public buildings, private buildings such as homes only need to modify to their own situation. More modern and streamlined wheelchair models can often turn in a more streamlined circles compared to older wheelchairs.
While being able to help yourself to drinks and snacks and prepare meals can be an important part of independence for wheelchair users, the kitchen is still full of dangerous items like boiling water, knives and hot surfaces. Placing emergency buttons around the kitchen make it easy to get help if an accident does occur and the wheelchair user needs immediate help. It can be extremely hard to wheel to a nearby phone if you have just burnt your hands on a hot stove for example, so this is very important for wheelchair users.
At the same time you are lowering workbenches, it’s also important to make sure nothing important is stored at ground level, as wheelchair uses cannot usually access the lower cupboard. This can sometimes involve reorganising the cupboard levels so that heavy pots and higher jars are not stored in the bottom shelf. Instead, reorganise the cupboard to only keep rarely used items like Christmas pudding dishes in the bottom shelf.
Contact a business like Clohessy Cabinets to learn more about renovating and changing the functionality of a kitchen.