Universal Interior Design for Home Comfort and Safety

How Do You Maintain A Safe and Happy Home In Face of Health Needs

 

Our homes are synonymous with family,security and community which is a source of social interaction, comfort and support. But how do you maintain this in the face of changing health needs,either yours or your parents? Through the use of Universal Design principles which will make your home accessible, safe and comfortable as well as stylish and appealing. No longer are institutional grab bars and bed rails the only game in town!

 

Universal Design principles involve the design and creation of a living environment that can be accessed, understood and used not just by you, but by family, friends and guests regardless of their age, size, ability or disability and consider needs and challenges such as:

  • mobility
  • vision
  • auditory
  • cognition

 

The 7 Universal Design principles include:

 

1.  Equitable Use – the design elements and features can be used by people with a broad range of abilities, for example, motion activated lighting.

 

2. Flexibility in Use – the design accommodates a wide range of individual abilities and preferences such as a shower room that allows roll-in use, has a handheld shower head and bench seating.

 

3. Simple and Intuitive Use – the design elements are easy to understand regardless of the user’s experience,knowledge, language, skills or concentration level. An example of this would be self flushing toilets.

 

4. Perceptible Information – the design effectively communicates the required information to the user regardless of surrounding conditions or the user’s sensory abilities. For example street crossing lights that have a lit symbol and/or a beeping sound or elevators that announce the floors and have a lit symbol for the floors as well as braille buttons.

 

 

 

5. Tolerance for Error – this principle ensures the design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions, such as a lever door handle that doesn’t require a tight grip or can be opened with an elbow.

6. Low Physical Effort – the design can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue or strength,think a loop or u-shaped handle on cabinet doors and/or drawer fronts.

 

7. Size and Space for Approach and Use– Principle 7 ensures the appropriate size and space is provided for approach,reach, manipulation and use regardless of the user’s body size, posture or mobility. In addition to wider doorways swing-clear hinges can inexpensively create extra space for people using walkers or wheel chairs.

 

When To Include Universal Design Elements

There are 3 times when you may contemplate incorporating Universal Design elements into your home: 

  • without urgent needs
  • with progressive conditions needs
  • with traumatic change needs

 

If you are considering changes to your home, bear in mind that being proactive affords you the time to plan for and carry out updates on your schedule when there are no urgent needs rather than reacting to sudden changes and needs when you will be experiencing the stress associated with a difficult, challenging health related situation in addition to the stresses of updating your home as soon as possible.

If there is a diagnosis of a progressive health condition, you want to have your home assessed to determine what updates are possible so that renovations can be planned and undertaken to support health changes as the condition progresses.

If you or someone you know is wondering how to remain in your home safely and comfortably well into the future, let’s talk! I’d be happy to do an assessment and identify updates that can be made to ensure your safety and comfort.

 

 

Janet Armstrong

About the Author

Janet Armstrong (www.simplyswankdecor.ca) is a graduate of the Interior Design Institute of Canada, CAPS (Certified Aging in Place Specialist) and a Director and Membership Chair with the Board of the Decorators and Designers Association of Canada (DDA Canada).

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