Home should be a safe haven where everything is easy to use, but is your home future-proofed? How can you check this? Here we explore the concept of universal design and the benefits of these design features.
Universal design was created to enable people to incorporate features into their home to increase its accessibility regardless of the needs of the occupants. Like other home improvements, individuals can decide which features might be more useful than others. Some are simple solutions that you may not even have thought of. We have all visited a friend’s and/or family member’s house and thought, ‘wow, it’s such an easy space to use’. Well, this ease of use might be because they have ensured that their space includes some key features.
Universal design is not just for people with limited mobility, it benefits everyone whether it’s a mother with a pram or an elderly visitor using a mobility device (walker) coming for a visit.
There are some simple design features that can make access to your home easier. Having a paved pathway leading to the front door as well as non-slip surfaces at the front door help to reduce falls. Once you have carried the shopping to the front door you may have to put it down while you search for your house keys. Having a 900mm high shelf to put your groceries or handbag on is an easy way of avoiding having to bend down to lift heavy shopping off the ground. Another safety feature is a well-lit entrance, which is also a deterrent to burglars.
On wet days there is nothing more annoying than not being able to get out of your car without getting soaked. In order to future-proof your parking, make sure that when your car is in the carport or garage you are able to open the doors wide. This will enable you to easily get the shopping out and/or help the kids in and out as well as giving you enough room should you require a walker or wheelchair.
Many of you will have thought of wider corridors, well-lit staircases with handrails etc. What you might not have considered are the placements of power points and light switches. Placing light switches at a reachable height from a seated position makes for ease of use. Power points are often placed in a corner and are hard to reach. Where possible try to place these away from corners and at a higher level so there is not such a need to bend down when plugging and unplugging devices.