Today there are over 14 million disabled people in the UK, yet there’s still little understanding of the requirements of disabled people in the home, and particularly in the kitchen.
The kitchen is the hub of most people’s homes, and probably the room used most often during the day. With that in mind, it’s important that it’s easy to use, especially if you have reduced functional capacity.
An inclusively designed kitchen is intended to offer independence to those with disabilities or wheelchair users, whilst at the same time being suitable for other users in the household.
So what can be done to ensure that kitchens are suitable for each individual who uses them?
Simple ideas for kitchen accessibility
Flexibility, accessibility, and user-friendliness are some of the most important factors in a disability friendly kitchen. The flexibility ensures that the kitchen products are adjustable to fit the individual user’s needs.
Designing an inclusive kitchen is very much a matter of looking at the small details that can make a big difference. It’s a matter of assessing the needs of the individual, often in the context of a multi-user family home, and incorporating as many features as possible to ensure that the kitchen is fully functional for everyone. With over 50 years of experience, we know what makes the perfect kitchen, and how to deliver that for every one of our customers.
Most furniture and accessories can be adapted to meet the needs of any client but its important for your designer to fully understand the day to day use of the kitchen and where any problems with their existing design lie, as well as understanding if the clients capabilities will change in the future.
Maintenance and care of your kitchen are an obvious consideration to make for any project, but easy to clean materials are an added benefit or those with mobility or visual impairment.
A fully inclusive design should show off new products and technology, as well as current trends and style. Just because you choose practical doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful too!
There are five main areas to be considered; worktops, ovens, hobs, sinks/taps and storage solutions. So let’s look at these in turn.
Ropox provides rise and fall as well as adjustable height work tops. They have a low profile frame depth to give maximum space underneath (for example, for wheelchair users), smooth corners to reduce risk of catching clothing or vulnerable skin, and a safety stop function to prevent the unit rising or falling into an obstruction. When a kitchen worktop is mounted on the FlexiElectric frame, the height can be adjusted from 65-95 cm. And there’s no compromise on aesthetics – once installed, the kitchen will still have a nice, clean look.
Accessibility is key with hot appliances, so we often recommend a hide and slide door oven for use in all disabled kitchens. The oven door completely disappears, giving the user full access to the oven cavity, or we’d suggest a side hinged oven. In most circumstances we’d also recommended a model with extra telescopic anti tilt rails and a pyrolytic cleaning function to help those with restricted movement.
Induction hobs only conduct heat when in contact with a pan with high ferrous metal content, so there’s less concern over clothing or tea towels catching fire. Induction hobs include additional safety features such as automatic shut off, shatterproof glass, and residual heat indicators.
Many makes of hob include hob 2 hood control. This means the cooker hood will automatically turn on when the hob is in use, and will adjust settings according the heat of the hob. The hob gets rid of the steam and vapour, leaving you with a fresh kitchen to cook and relax in. Consider it an extra pair of hands to help you out.
Alternatively, AEG offer a ComboHob, which is a combination of an extraction fan and powerful induction hob. The unique 2-in-1 design of the ComboHob makes it possible to integrate it anywhere in your kitchen. You’re not restricted so you can put your hob where you like it, such as on a kitchen island, or maybe in front of the window. What’s more, it doesn’t take up more space than a regular hob. This way, there’s no need to try to access a separate device, which in most cases would be in the ceiling or high up on a wall which can be impossible for some wheelchair users to access.
Accessible sinks should be a shallower depth than standard, making reaching the bottom of the bowl easier without stretching or hunching. This also provides more space in the cupboards underneath. The sink height again can be adjustable and there are many touch control taps available. As we discussed in our blog about accessible bathrooms, touch control taps are extremely useful and hygenic, too. For example, we love the Franke touch-free tap Atlas Neo Sensor, which is stylish, eco-friendly, and hands-free.
At Modern Homes we offer a huge range of different clever storage solutions, helping the user get closer to the objects in their cupboards in a comfortable way. There are also swing carousel units which move the entire contents of the corner cupboard in front of the unit so everything is within easy reach. These can be in corners to make the most of the space you have available. We can also offer height adjustable wall cabinets! These can be controlled manually or electronically, and they can even move out from the wall to come closer to the kitchen user, making it easier to reach everything you could possibly need when putting together a culinary masterpiece.
As you’ll have seen, there are many ways we can make life in the kitchen a little bit easier for you if you have a disability or any mobility issues.
To speak to us about the ways we can ensure your new kitchen is accessible, just get in touch. We’ve been helping people like you for years, and you can trust us to listen to what you need, and create you your dream kitchen.