New South Australia homes must meet design standards to improve accessibility for the disabled and seniors.
Creating homes that are accessible to seniors and individuals with disabilities is essential for fostering inclusivity and independence. In Australia, the demand for accessible housing continues to grow.
This article aims to provide practical tips and insights on renovating residences to meet higher accessibility standards. Implementing these ideas can help owners make their homes more accommodating, safe, and supportive for individuals with varying mobility needs.
South Australia Government-Mandated Home Improvements
Local governments in Australia may be taking the lead themselves to ensure that residences will have more accessibility for the elderly and persons with disability.
In March 2023, the South Australia government confirmed further efforts to comply with the amended National Construction Code for improving home accessibility. Officials said that all new build projects starting 1 October 2024 should meet or surpass higher minimum requirements under the Code for accessibility and seven-star energy efficiency ratings.
State housing bodies Renewal SA and the South Australian Housing Authority have already proven fully compliant with the Code, and the state government will collaborate with the Australian Building Codes Board to develop and enforce the standard.
The new initiative’s focus on energy efficiency was rationalised in light of current developments in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and to provide people ageing-in-place with better comfort. Accessibility issues to be addressed include step-free access and wider corridors to enable freer mobility, especially for people on wheelchairs or walkers.
The announcement followed years of concern over a lack of disability/elderly access not addressed in SA’s building codes, even including across the border in WA and NSW.
Recently, the ABC reported the plight of an Indigenous man who was moved to public housing in Adelaide earlier this year from his house in Riverland over serious health concerns. However, instead of giving him a more accessible property, the SA Housing Authority put him in a two-storey home with a steep staircase and bathroom on the upper floor. It already exacerbated his back pain and past injuries, and he had fallen down the stairs at least once.
Home Mobility and Accessibility Assessment
Before embarking on any renovations, it is necessary to conduct a comprehensive home mobility and accessibility assessment. This assessment will help identify potential barriers and determine the specific modifications required.
Entryways and Exits
Ensure that all entryways have step-free access, with ramps or gradual inclines instead of stairs. Widen doorways to accommodate mobility aids, such as wheelchairs or walkers. Remove any tripping hazards, such as loose rugs or clutter.
Add handrails along staircases, ramps, and corridors to provide stability and support. Ensure that handrails are securely anchored and are at an appropriate height for users.
Flooring and Surfaces
Replace slippery or uneven flooring with non-slip materials, such as slip-resistant tiles or low-pile carpets. Smooth out transitions between different floor surfaces to prevent trip hazards.
Install grab bars near toilets, bathtubs, and showers to provide stability and support. Consider replacing traditional bathtubs with walk-in showers equipped with benches and handheld showerheads. Install non-slip flooring and ensure sufficient lighting in the bathroom area. A more comprehensive guide can be found here.
Lower countertops and sinks to accommodate wheelchair users. Opt for lever-style or touch-sensitive faucets, and consider installing pull-out shelves for easier access to items. Enhance lighting to improve visibility and reduce shadows. The A.S.A.G. can guide you further with this informative guide.
For homes with multiple levels, installing a stairlift or elevator can significantly enhance accessibility. Alternatively, consider creating a ground-level bedroom and bathroom for individuals who have difficulty navigating stairs.
Smart Home Systems
Smart home automation can greatly benefit individuals with mobility limitations by enhancing accessibility. These systems can control lighting, temperature, security, and other features through voice commands or mobile devices.
Remote Controls and Voice-Activated Devices
Replace traditional light switches with remote-controlled or voice-activated alternatives. These devices allow individuals to control various aspects of their home environment without physical exertion.
Financial Assistance and Professional Guidance
Government Grants and Programmes
Research grants and funding programmes offered by the South Australia government to assist homeowners with accessibility modifications. These initiatives can help offset renovation costs and make home accessibility improvements more affordable.
Professional Consultants and Contractors
Consulting with accessibility experts, occupational therapists, or licensed builders can provide valuable insights and ensure that renovations align with relevant accessibility standards and regulations.
Creating more accessible homes is crucial to fostering inclusivity and empowering seniors and individuals with disabilities. By conducting a home accessibility assessment and implementing the recommended modifications, homeowners can significantly enhance the safety, comfort, and independence of their residences.
Through the adoption of accessible design principles, the South Australian government’s grants and programmes, and the expertise of professionals, homeowners can play a vital role in promoting a higher standard of accessibility in residential spaces. Let us strive to create homes that cater to the diverse needs of individuals and embrace a more inclusive future.
The ASAG Reverse Mortgage
Some home improvement projects with focus on better home access or energy efficiency may be possibly bankrolled by an equity release facility, like that offered by the Australian Seniors Advisory Group.
To obtain further information about our reverse mortgage program and its functioning, please reach out to our ASAG team. You can contact us at 1300 002 724 or send an email to email@example.com for any enquiries or assistance.
You can start the process by utilising the tool provided below to evaluate your accessible equity.
DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no relationships with any government office or company.