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Adapting Your Home - Fact Sheet

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Adapting Your Home - Fact Sheet

Planning and making home alterations can take time so it's wise to start as soon as possible.

Remember that any significant alterations, such as rails or ramps, need to comply with building standards.

Around the house
Occupational therapists can assess your situation and suggest the most appropriate equipment and aids, such as the need for wheelchair ramps or handrails near the stairs, outside steps and in the bathroom.

Arrange the furniture so that it is easy to move about. Some people need a clear passage. Others may need supports along the way.

Install smoke detectors in all rooms. Keep the temperature inside the house comfortable for someone who cannot move about or regulate body temperature.

Remove extension leads or loose cords and don't use loose rugs or mats on floors. Keep outside paths free of loose things you could trip on.

Room-to-room communication and alarms can be arranged with plug-in baby alarms or more sophisticated alarms. A buzzer or doorbell could be wired to a light-touch switch. Ask your occupational therapist.

A hands-free phone makes it possible to talk without lifting the handset. Choose one with a memory function for frequently used numbers. Phones are also available with large numbers for people with poor vision.

Get a "pick-up stick" - a metal stick with a lifting claw at one end that is closed by a trigger at the other end -for picking up things out of reach.

In the bathroom
A plastic chair or stool in the shower allows your family member to sit down. A longhandled sponge, soap on a rope and a suction cup to keep soap in place may be useful. If possible, it is best to have no step into the shower.

Use a non-slip bath mat. Stick anti-slip adhesive shapes on the bottom of the bath.

Try a raised toilet seat or a mobile commode that can be wheeled over the toilet. Install hand rails beside the toilet and shower.

An electric toothbrush is ideal for people who have difficulty cleaning their teeth.

Consider installing individual hot and cold taps or a hot water system that is thermostatically controlled to prevent hot water burns.

In the bedroom
A person should be able to sit on their bed with their feet flat to the floor. If the bed is too high, consider having its legs shortened. If too low, sit the bed on special raisers.

Bed sticks or "monkey poles" are available that provide something to hold on to so a person can swing themselves upright in bed.

A commode or urinal may overcome the problem of toileting at night. A plastic sheet on the bed is useful when someone has incontinence.

Special mattresses to increase comfort in bed are available: air beds, water beds, net beds, deep mattresses. Mattress elevators raise a person from lying to sitting. Consider satin sheets. They make it easier to move in bed.

Use clothes that are easy to put on and quick to fasten - front-opening dresses, skirts or trousers with elastic waist bands, track suit trousers, clip-on ties, cardigans rather than jumpers, slip-on shoes, elastic shoelaces, stretch fabrics without zips or buttons.

Aids for dressing include devices for putting on socks, long shoehorns, gadgets for doing up shoes and foot stools.

In the kitchen
Benches and tables should be the right height for the person to work at or have meals at while sitting - with room for a wheelchair if necessary.

Useful gadgets include steel-pronged, wooden boards that secure vegetables for cutting, pot stabilisers that secure saucepans to stove tops during stirring, and a tap "turner" for someone who cannot easily grasp a tap.

Special bowls, cups, knives, forks and spoons are available for people with restricted hand function. Plastic is more practical and safer than china and glass if the person has difficulty holding objects.

A plate guard that attaches to the side of the plate stops food escaping and gives the person something to push against.

Financial assistance
Talk to the Brain Injury Association in your State about possible options here. If you are already in touch with an occupational therapist or social worker, ask them if your family is eligible.

The Independent Living Centres in each State can help to organise your application for funding. In each State, Home and Community Care can arrange maintenance and home modifications, such as the fitting of handrails.

Contact your local council.

References and further information

This article is reproduced from "Those who care" published by Brainlink, a Victorian-based service that is dedicated to improving the quality of life of people affected by acquired disorders of the brain, by providing support to their families and carers. Visit to find out more about Brainlink.


Contact the Independent Living Centres Advisory Service by ringing 1300 885 886 or visit


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