How to Adapt Your Home for a Wheelchair User

Written by Chloe Harwood

Adapting your home for use by a wheelchair user is a big step, and it takes some effort and coordination. But it can be done successfully if you think it through in advance and make the changes that will have the biggest day to day impact for the wheelchair user. Read on to find out how you can do that.

Think About Funding

Making the changes that we will be discussing below is not cheap. In fact, it can be pretty expensive. There are often local authority grants and other forms of charitable help that can help with the renovation work. But all this depends on whereabouts you live and what you’re entitled to. Either way, it’s likely that you’re going to have to reach into your pocket and come up with at least some of the cash. A personal loan might help you to come up with the money, or it might be necessary to raid your savings. You should make sure you have the financial provisions in place before starting the work.

Adapting Doorways

Wide wheelchairs might not be able to fit through all the doors and doorways in your home. If this is the case in your home, it might be necessary to widen the doorways to allow some extra room to get around in. Some people choose to use glass sliding doors in their home because this gets rid of the extra space taken up by swinging doors. And when choosing a wheelchair, it’s best to take its size into consideration. Because it will definitely affect accessibility and mobility in the home. If a smaller wheelchair is suitable, then it’s probably the best option all round.


Entering and exiting the home is just one the everyday challenges that wheelchair users face. Without a ramp to allow them entry to the home, it becomes impossible. You don’t want to risk an injury or have that person become confined to the house, so having a ramp installed is vital. Stairs and wheelchairs simply don’t mix. Luckily, it’s not too costly to have the steps leading up to your home converted into a ramp that can easily be navigated by everyone. You should let an expert put the ramp in place though. You don’t want to make a mistake and create a ramp that is too steep to be functional.

Step Lifts

Some homes are not suitable for ramps. This usually applies to the homes that don’t have the right amount of space outside it. If this applies to your home, don’t worry because there are other options to consider. For example, you can use step lifts. The Terry TSL 500 allows the wheelchair user to be lifted up a step and into the home. This works by making use of a platform that goes up and down. They are a big investment to make, but they are very useful for making everyday life a little easier for the wheelchair user. And if you can’t accommodate a proper ramp, then it is probably the only functional option out there.

The Bed

The main thing to think about when choosing a bed that will be used by a wheelchair user is access. Transfer from a chair to the bed is not always easier, and it has to be taken into consideration. Many people find that they need to have a bed that is roughly the same height as the seat of their chair. This makes getting from the chair to the bed a lot easier for them. If the bed is too low or too high, the whole process becomes pretty much impossible. The other thing to consider is how the material affects their skin. People with certain disabilities are more likely to suffer bedsores and pressure sores. So, softer materials and beds that spread weight evenly are best.

Bathroom Changes

There are a number of different changes that will need to be made to the bathroom so that it can be safely used. What changes you make will depend on how mobile the wheelchair user in your home is. Some people need to install a lift system that allows them to get in and out of the shower or bath easily. But other people can just use a system with a door on the side of the bath and a stool to sit on in the shower. You will also need to add some handrails to the bathroom so that using the toilet and sink is made a little easier. These are cheap and simple to install though.

Stair Lift

Unless you live in a bungalow, a wheelchair user is not going to be able to reach the second storey unless you make changes. There are a couple of options to explore. The most common option is a stair lift. These can be installed on the staircase for pretty small amounts of money, so it’s something worth considering. It doesn’t require any major changes to your home and it’s layout. Another option is to have a lift installed in the home. This is preferable for some people because it doesn’t mean having to get in and out of the wheelchair. But it does cost more and is a bigger project to install.

Home Security

If you are helping to adapt a home for a wheelchair user who lives alone, it might be a good idea to think about home security too. This is something that many wheelchair users feel strongly about. This is especially true if they’ve only been using the chair for a short amount of time. They tend to feel more vulnerable before because the difficulty associated with moving around quickly. This is something you should consult them over and discuss the options with them. It’s pretty simple and quick to install a new alarm system, and it might just give them the peace of mind they want. Some people also like to have an emergency alarm system that alerts someone if they have an accident in the home.


The amount of legroom underneath tables can vary a lot, and it’s easy to forget about how this affects wheelchair users. You might need to make adaptations to the tables in your or simply replace them if making adaptations is not possible. It is sometimes easy to move the legs on a chair so that they’re slightly further apart. This should allow a wheelchair user to fit the chair under the table when they want to sit and the table and eat. If the table is too low down, you can simply add something underneath each chair leg to lift the whole thing up a little. It’s a makeshift solution, but it works fine.


Like the tables, the countertops might now need to be adapted. If the countertops in the kitchen is too high up, someone in a wheelchair will not be able to use them properly. You don’t want to force them to strain themselves trying to reach a counter that is too high. If the home is going to need to be used by a wheelchair user and non-wheelchair users, then you need to strike the right balance. You could have some counters and cupboards that are lower down and then some that are at an average kind of height. This might be the best way to make sure that everyone is catered for and kept happy.

Now that you know what changes to make, it’s time to start putting them into action.

About the author

Chloe Harwood