Such renovations “will give them long-term independence, as well as security,” said Marni Halluas, director of the Calgary Development Fund.
Adjustments can range from simple and inexpensive—using an office chair to curl up, for example—to complex and expensive, like adding an elevator, said Stephen Trumper, back-page columnist for Abilities magazine.
“There is no one size fits all,” Trumper said. “It is advised that you bring in an occupational therapist who can monitor the home and give you suggestions.”
For Renault themselves, Halawass suggested hiring contractors and consultants with accessibility expertise. For example, her organization employs a specialist with the Rick Hansen Foundation’s Accessibility Certificate who can anticipate a client’s future needs as well as current needs.
Trumper suggested thinking of accessibility as a form of “liberation”: “Anything that helps you live easier and increases your safety, you should do.”
Incorporate these design changes throughout
› Operable lever handles with closed grip installed on doors and cabinets
› Slip resistant floors. Industrial vinyl flooring for durability if your customer uses a wheelchair
› Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats and other items placed 30 to 48 inches above the floor
› Furniture is arranged so that the travel tracks within the house are at least 36 inches wide
› Floors, doors, walls and edges of contrasting colors so that a person with a visual impairment can easily identify different surfaces
› Shutters, which are easier to operate, than blinds and blinds
› There are no area rugs, which are a trip hazard
› Adequate task and ambient lighting
› Medical Alert System (one time or subscription fee)
Renault is specific to elderly customers
$$ = $1,000 – $4,999
$$$ = $5,000 – $10,000
$$$$ = + $10,000
- Add a ramp to allow wheelchair access if the door is less than 30 inches off the ground ($$$)
- Add a balcony lift if the door is more than 30 inches off the floor ($$$$)
- expansion of the external entrance ($$)
advice: Measure the height of the door from the floor to the finished door sill.
- Enlargement of the inner entrance ($$)
- Install a ceiling lift to raise and lower the client from the bed ($$)
- If raising the ceiling is not possible, purchase a portable mechanical floor jack ($$)
adviceAlberta Aids to Daily Living covers a portion of equipment such as home care beds, transportation aids, and slings. Other counties have similar programs.
- Add the handle strips to the hardwood ($)
- Add an elevator:
- straight ladder from one floor to another ($$$)
- Two-part staircase with landing and 90-degree rotation ($$$$)
- Conversion of cabinets stacked on two or more floors into an elevator ($$$$)
adviceLiving in a bungalow makes getting out of the house in an emergency significantly faster.
- Add grab bars around the shower, bathtub, or toilet ($)
- Add a raised toilet seat ($)
- add shower chair ($(and replace the showerhead with a handheld unit with a hose at least 59 inches long)$)
- Replace the bathtub with a shower cap ($$$)
- Replace the entire bathroom with a wet room ($$$$)
adviceTo reduce the risk of falls, Accessible Housing recommends that the water heater be set to no higher than 49°C.
- Set countertops to 30″ high by 24″ deep, dimensions ideal for wheelchair users (cost varies widely)
- Replace the oven with a side opening model ($$)
- Replace the refrigerator with a model with double doors and/or a bottom freezer ($$)
- Install a sink with a sink no more than 10 inches deep ($)
- Add a touchless faucet adapter ($)
advicePlacing electrical outlets and light switches at the front of the counters ensures that they are accessible for wheelchair users.
Sources: AccessibleUniversity.com; City of Calgary Access Design Standards; Rick Hansen Foundation. Estimates exclude installation and delivery.
With files from Alan Tong