Blog, Building Repair

Making Social Housing Inclusive: Disability Aids and Adaptations

Social housing has long been a part of society, offering a housing model that is more affordable than private renting with a more secure, long-term tenancy for those who need it.

Disability aids and inclusive housing is critical to making social housing work for everybody.

Whilst new housing is still being made available, the quantity is falling significantly short of demand: in 2018/19, only 6,287 new homes of the 1.1m needed were built. This issue is compounded even further when it comes to inclusive housing.

How to adapt homes for those with special needs

Inclusive housing isn’t just about catering for disabilities. It’s also about creating homes that meet the needs of multiple generations, whether a family with small children or an elderly couple who need to know that they can live safely and independently in their own home.

Currently, only 9% of current housing stock meets even the most basic of accessibility standards. Yet a recent survey by the Centre for Ageing Better found that ‘72 per cent of UK adults think all new homes should be built to be suitable for all ages and abilities’.

The Lifetime Homes standard, developed by the Joseph Rowntree Fund in 1991, sets out five over-arching principles for social housing buildings to make life as easy as possible for as long as possible because [homes] are thoughtfully designed.  It is this standard that more campaigners would like to see adopted by housing developers.

Woman in wheelchair cooking in a kitchen

Disability aids and adaptations

In line with the Lifetime Home principle, creating an adapted home doesn’t have to make it unattractive and for developers, planning for future inclusivity should make it easier and cheaper to adapt a home should circumstances change.  This could include:

  • Ensuring walls that are strong enough to install hand rails
  • Building stairs that easily take a stair lift when needed
  • Creating bathrooms that allow for a walk-in shower or wet-room should a conversion be necessary
  • Wider corridors and doorways that make life easier and less hazardous for people with sticks or walking frames.
  • Flat access into all external doorways for those using a wheelchair or with limited mobility

For existing social housing stock that needs adapting, this can range from grab rails and specialist taps through to full conversions or extensions to ensure there is enough space, with the right equipment, to facilitate safe and independent living.

disability aid handrail with white metal frame

Social housing and special needs

Whether building as part of a new development or making adaptations for today, social housing providers have a long way to go to make inclusive homes the norm.  Despite this, there are more cost-effective products and solutions available today than there ever have been, meaning no one should need to live in a home that is unsuitable for them.

RFM’s Repair division has adapted many homes and installed disability aids. We have worked alongside social housing associations such as Habinteg to make homes more inclusive.

To talk about how RFM can partner with you on your journey towards a more inclusive product portfolio, get in touch with us today.

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