Houses in the UK are often not designed with wheelchair accessibility in mind. Narrow hallways and staircases, sharp corners and small bathrooms can all present significant challenges to those who use a wheelchair.

Home improvements for wheelchair users can range from simple changes, like adding a ramp to the front door, to much bigger projects, like building a ground-floor bedroom.

This blog takes a closer look at some of the more common home improvements that can be made to make a home more wheelchair friendly

Access In And Around The Home

Let’s start with getting in and out of the home. Many older homes tend to have a raised threshold, and some homes have outside steps. If a wheelchair user wants to remain living at home, this needs to be addressed to enable easy access. 

Permanent Ramps

Permanent ramps can be constructed from concrete or built using modular pieces that are easily refigured, moved or removed when necessary. Depending on the size of the ramp, concrete constructions can take days to set and be safe to use, whereas modular ramps are ready to go as soon as they are installed.

For more about what to expect from ramp installation, read this blog

Temporary Ramps

Temporary ramps are useful when you don’t want or need a permanent ramp. This is because they can be moved and stored away from the step or property threshold when not in use. They are also much cheaper to purchase, and some can be carried around when out and about. 

There are several different types of temporary ramps, including fold-up ramps, telescopic ramps and roll-a-ramps. Click here for our blog covering types of ramps.

Outdoor Step Lifts

Next on the list of home improvements for wheelchair users is the outdoor steplift. Outdoor step lifts are perfect for homes where steps prevent wheelchair access and secure the user safely whilst in transit to enable full independence getting into or out of the home. 

Multiple step lifts on the market cover different distances and accommodate a variety of widths and weights. 


Wider Doorways

The UK standard doorway width is 76 cm or 30 inches, but wheelchairs require at least 81cm or 32 inches. Improving accessibility for wheelchair users means widening doorways to accommodate this extra width. 

Door widening is one of the home improvements for wheelchair users that should be carried out by trained professionals. Read more about what to expect from the process here. 

Consider the usability of the door, too. A door knob can be easier to grip, but lever handles might be preferred by users with limited hand mobility. 

Stair Lifts

Stair lifts transport users between floors along a track mounted to the wall or stair tread. This means users can safely and independently access different areas of multi-level homes, which is important for homes with upstairs bathrooms, for example.

Modern stairlifts are usually battery-powered, quiet, and easy to use. With proper maintenance, they can last up to ten years, putting them on the list of cost-effective home improvements for wheelchair users.

Read more about stairlifts in our blog.

home adaptations

Home Improvements For Wheelchair Users In The Kitchen

Independence and safety are critical in the kitchen of a wheelchair user.

Accessible Storage

Pull-down shelves in wall-mounted cabinets, pull-out shelves in base cabinets and drawers installed where possible all provide easily accessible storage for groceries and kitchen equipment.  

Wall-Mounted Appliances

Microwaves that sit too high up and ovens that align with base cabinets aren’t easily operable for wheelchair users. Wall-mounted appliances that sit at accessible heights are much safer to use, especially when handling hot and heavy items. 

Rise And Fall Worktops

Rise and fall worktops are adjustable worktops that can be operated manually or electronically. For wheelchair users, they provide leg space underneath so that the user can get close to the sink or hob or efficiently prepare food. 

Small Adaptations With Big Impact

Raised plug sockets and lowered light switches are home improvements for wheelchair users that can transform the kitchen experience, promoting independence and allowing the user to remain comfortable instead of straining and stretching. 

Home Improvements For Wheelchair Users In The Bathroom

Bathroom home improvements for wheelchair users reduce the risk of accidents and enhance independence. 

Accessible Bathing

A level access shower with a shower seat makes washing more convenient. Level access showers sit at floor level, eliminating the hazard of the shower tray lip. Adding a shower seat where users can rest whilst washing reduces potential fatigue and strain on the body.

Grab Rails

Grab rails installed next to the toilet, next to the sink, and in the shower area provide much-needed support for wheelchair users, keeping them safe while they perform bathroom tasks.


Raised Height WC

Conventional toilets are uncomfortable to use for people with reduced mobility because of the strain lowering down to it puts on the joints and muscles. 

Raised height toilets are essentially the same porcelain toilets we are used to, just taller. Raised-height seats are another option; these replace the toilet seat on a standard toilet, meaning you don’t need to replace the whole facility.

For individuals with higher needs, a washer-dryer toilet is a third option when it comes to home improvements. For wheelchair users, a washer-dryer toilet can be highly functional because it eliminates the need for fiddly toilet paper and the wash and dry cycle can be easily activated by either the push-button panel located on the side of the toilet or the remote control.

Accessible Sink

Wheelchair-accessible sinks are wall-hung and sit at the right height for a seated person, allowing their knees to fit underneath and avoiding the need to stretch. 

Non-Slip Flooring

Anti-slip vinyl flooring is the safest flooring option for wheelchair-accessible bathrooms. Tiles and other standard bathroom flooring options become slippery when wet, making it impossible to navigate the space effectively.

Bath Lifts 

Bath lifts are devices that gently lower the user into the bottom of the bath and raise them out again when they are ready. They support the user’s weight, reducing strain on the joints and muscles. 

Temporary Shower Pod

When using a wheelchair will be a temporary solution, installing a shower pod can work well instead of making costly permanent changes. 

Temporary shower pods can be installed downstairs to create an accessible shower and toilet. They are completely waterproof cubicles that provide independence and privacy and can be constructed in a single day for immediate access. To read more about them, click here.

Where To Find Help With Home Adaptations

There is help out there that can make funding adaptations simpler. 

Affording Changes

Minor adaptations costing £1000 or under may be provided by your local council if you qualify for the scheme. When considering major adaptations, you may need to apply for a Disabled Facilities Grant; this process involves an assessment by an occupational therapist.

The maximum amount for a Disabled Facilities Grant depends on where in the UK you live. In England, it is £30,000, which increases to £36,000 in Wales but is £25,000 in Northern Ireland. This particular grant doesn’t exist in Scotland.

Specialist Contractors 

Home adaptation specialists like the John Ford Group can help with all sorts of minor and major changes. From grab rails to huge home extensions, we have extensive experience in the field, and our quality of work is gold standard. 

Is Your Home Wheelchair Friendly?

The home improvements for wheelchair users we’ve run through in this blog provide individuals with independence and confidence to live comfortably in their own homes. 

Looking for a friendly home adaptations specialist for help and advice? Need to make some changes and don’t know where to start? We’re ready and waiting to help you. Give one of our recent blogs, ‘Making Your Home Accessible: A Guide to Finding the Right Help’, a read.