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
Arrange the furniture so that it is easy to move about. Some
people need a clear passage. Others may need supports along the
Install smoke detectors in all rooms. Keep the temperature inside
the house comfortable for someone who cannot move about or regulate
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
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
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
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
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
A commode or urinal may overcome the problem of toileting at
night. A plastic sheet on the bed is useful when someone has
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
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
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
A plate guard that attaches to the side of the plate stops food
escaping and gives the person something to push against.
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
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 www.brainlink.org.au to find
out more about Brainlink.
Contact the Independent Living Centres Advisory Service
by ringing 1300 885 886 or visit http://ilcaustralia.org.au